HALF of us are popping a daily vitamin pill, research has found.
The number of Brits using them has jumped by five per cent to 46 per cent in the past year, with the UK spending 짙414 million annually.
The study, by Mintel, also found that ocasional use is put at 65 per cent.
But at the same time many scientists question their value to our health.
Here, Sun nutritionist AMANDA URSELL reveals the five vitamins you really should take.
WHO BENEFITS? The Department of Health recommends that babies who are breastfed from birth to one year be given a daily supplement of 8.5-10 micrograms of vitamin D.
Babies fed formula milk get enough until they have less than 500ml of formula a day.
From ages one to four children should then be given a daily supplement containing ten micrograms of vitamin D.
The Government also recommends that everyone from five years of age and throughout adulthood should consider a ten-microgram supplement daily.
This is particularly important during winter and if you get little exposure to sun on your skin throughout the year.
WHY? We get very little vitamin D from food. Without enough, our bodies can?셳 make use of the bone-building calcium in our meals and snacks.
This can lead to poorly formed bones and the deficiency disease rickets in children and a greater risk of osteomalacia, a form of weak bones, in adults.
BEST FOODS: Oily fish gives us the most vitamin D, followed by fortified spreads and eggs.
WHO BENEFITS? If you are expecting, trying for a baby or even if there is the smallest chance of an unplanned pregnancy, it is recommended you take 400 micrograms a day.
WHY? Folic acid is crucial in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy when the tiny foetus is already creating a flat layer of cells, which then literally curls in and fuses to form the basis of the spinal tube.
This process can be incomplete if there is insufficient folic acid, leading to birth defects in the central nervous system such as spina bifida.
If there is a family history of neural tube defects such as spina bifida, your GP may prescribe a short-term supplement of 5mg a day (5,000 micrograms).
Women with diabetes and those who are taking anti-epileptic medicines may need to take a higher dose of the vitamin.
BEST FOODS: In its natural form, this B vitamin is known as folate and is found in foods such as broccoli, 짯spinach, black-eyed beans, oranges and fortified breakfast cereals.
LUTEIN AND ZEAXANTHIN
WHO BENEFITS? Arguably, the sooner you start taking a supplement with lutein and zeaxanthin in your 50s, the better, although there is no official guidance on it.
WHY? As we age, our eyes are more prone to developing both ?쐂ry??and ?쐗et??age-related macular degeneration, which can lead to blindness.
A study showed people with early age-related macular degeneration who took a supplement with lutein and zeaxanthin were 35 per cent less likely to develop advanced versions of the disease and reduced their risk of central vision loss.
BEST FOODS: 80g of kale gives 17mg of lutein; spinach, spring greens and watercress have 10mg per 80g serving. One red pepper has 14mg.
Sweetcorn, orange juice, orange peppers, peaches, mango and egg yolks are also all great for zeaxanthin.
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WHO BENEFITS? Getting our omega-3 fatty acids from foods can be hard, especially for children who often do not like oily fish ??the main source.
If you opt for supplements, look out for ?쐎mega-3 oil??rather than ?쐄ish liver oil??
You can take flax oil, but plant-based sources appear to be harder for our bodies to use than fish versions.
Look out for brands that give you around 450mg of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) per adult daily dose.
Children will need less so use children?셲 brands for your offspring.
WHY? Studies show that if you live in a country where people eat a diet rich in omega-3-packed oily fish, there is a lower risk of heart disease.
Omega-3s also help brain development, protect memory and prevent depression.
BEST FOODS: Mackerel, salmon, anchovies, sardines, sprats, fresh crab and pilchards are all great foods for omega-3.
Fortified bread, fish fingers and eggs are also useful as well as dark-green veg, pecans, walnuts, flaxseeds and hazelnuts.
WHO BENEFITS? Almost half of teenage girls eat in a way that means they end up getting insufficient iron.
Investing in a general multivitamin and mineral supplement that contains around 7mg of iron ??which is half the recommended daily intake ??is a good insurance policy.
WHY? It?셲 especially important that teenage girls get plenty of iron because they lose blood and thus iron each month during menstruation.
Iron is important because we need it to make new blood cells that carry oxygen around the body.
Over time, insufficient iron can lead to full-blown anaemia.
But before you get to this point, intake below the recommended amounts may contribute to tiredness, stress, brittle nails and hair, and poor concentration.
BEST FOODS: Lean red meat and dark-fleshed oily fish such as sardines.
Breakfast cereals that have been fortified with iron, such as Weetabix and Bran Flakes, are also good, as are peas, peanuts and peanut butter, figs, sesame and pumpkin seeds, and dark green vegetables such as spinach, kale and watercress.