Your body only needs a small amount of vitamins and minerals every day. A varied diet generally provides enough of each vitamin and mineral. However, some people may need supplements to correct deficiencies of particular vitamins or minerals.
People who may benefit from vitamin and mineral supplements include:
- pregnant women
- women who are breastfeeding
- people who drink alcohol above the amount that is recommended for reducing risk of disease (one standard drink a day for non-pregnant women and two for men)
- cigarette smokers
- illegal drug users
- crash dieters or people on chronic low-calorie diets
- the elderly (especially those who are disabled or chronically ill)
- some vegetarians or vegans
- women with excessive bleeding during menstruation
- people with allergies to particular foods
- people with malabsorption problems such as diarrhoea, coeliac disease or pancreatitis.
Women planning a pregnancy should consider taking folic acid (folate) supplements to reduce the risk of neural tube defects in the baby. Folic acid can also be found in some fortified foods such as some breads. Foods fortified with folic acid have the nutrient added to them during production to boost their nutritional value.