A major new study published in Nutrients has confirmed that regularly taking multivitamin and mineral supplements is the best way to make sure people are getting sufficient essential nutrients, versus diet alone.
Research in America analysed data from 10,698 adults from the National Health and Nutrition Examinations Surveys (NHANES) 2009 to 1012.
Experts looked at intakes of 17 nutrients from food alone versus food plus vitamin and mineral supplements.
The study found that taking VMS, at any frequency, significantly increased nutrient intakes and decreased the occurrence of inadequate intakes for most micronutrients.
This was especially apparent in under-consumed nutrients such as vitamin A and iron, as compared to food alone.
The National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) found these nutrients are also under-consumed in the UK.
The effects were more evident among people who took VMS regularly compared to sporadically.
The result have shown people who took supplements for 21 or more days per month eliminated most nutrient deficiencies.
“This study is really important in setting the record straight on the value of multivitamins and minerals,” said Dr Carrie Ruxton, from the Health and Food Supplements Information Service.
“We know these nutrients are key to our health and wellbeing and low levels have been shown to have negative health impacts.”
“Unfortunately, all too often it is said that you can get all the nutrition you need from a healthy, balanced diet.
“But this ignores how most people actually eat.
“A lot of people don’t consume the full-spectrum of micronutrients needed to support optimum health.”
Adequate intake of micronutrients is essential for nearly all metabolic, developmental and growth processes, and for good health acrossthe lifespan.
Data from the UK’s National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) Years 5 and 6 revealed a picture of low intake across a number of nutrients.
Around one fifth of adults aged 19 to 64 had low blood levels of vitamin D which is important for immune health, bone health and muscle growth development and function.
More than 27 per cent of women aged 19 to 64 also had iron levels below the LRNI and a substantial proportion of adults over 19 had low intakes of magnesium (for nervous system, muscle movement and the formation of healthy bones and teeth), potassium (for cardiovascular health) and selenium (for immune health).
Children aged 11-18 had intakes below the Lower Reference Nutrient Intake – the level at which deficiency is likely to occur – for Vitamin A which is crucial for eye and immune health.
Girls aged 11 to 18 and women aged 19 to 64 had intakes below the LRNI for riboflavin, at 20 per cent and 13 per cent respectively, which is essential for the nervous system, skin and eye health.
Dr Ruxton said: “Topping up the diet with a daily multivitamin and mineral plus an omega-3 supplement will help to counteract potential dietary shortfalls and assist people in reaching the recommended levels of key nutrients which we all need to support good health.”