Eating a healthy and a balanced diet can be difficult, particularly if you're short of time. There are times in your life when you may have increased needs for vitamins and minerals. For example, as you grow older you need more vitamin D and less iron and if you're having a baby it is recommended that you get an extra supply of folic acid as well as a sufficient intake of nutrients before and during pregnancy. Trying to ensure you eat a balanced diet at these times is important, however for some people it may be necessary to supplement your diet as well, in order to meet your body's nutritional needs.
What are vitamins and minerals?
Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients, sometimes called micronutrients, because they're needed in very small amounts (milligrams or micrograms). They are essential because your body cannot manufacture them. Minerals and trace elements are composed of one element whereas vitamins are much more complex and are susceptible to loss from cooking, storage or exposure to light.
Why are vitamins essential?
Vitamins and minerals are involved in hundreds of different chemical reactions in every part of your body. Some are needed to help release energy from food and to support a healthy immune system, while others are needed for strong bones and teeth, and healthy skin and hair.
Vitamins and minerals help to keep you healthy, so it's important that you get a steady supply in your diet every day. The amount you need will change at different stages of your life. For example, as you grow older you need more vitamin D and less iron and if you're having a baby (or trying for one) it's recommended that you get an extra supply of folic acid as well as a sufficient intake of nutrients before and during pregnancy.