Vitamin supplements: A worthwhile spend or can a healthy diet suffice?

Rachel Power

As the January blues hit and the stress of college life begin to increases for us all, it’s important to understand what we need in order to keep our bodies in check. Vitamins are essential to maintaining a healthy body, but some are more important to prioritise than others.

In Ireland, it’s a well-known fact that sunshine isn’t exactly our best friend. Vitamin D is absorbed into our systems from sunlight, so with our usual lack of sunshine throughout the year, naturally a lot of us are lacking in this vitamin.

When we lack vitamin D, our bones become more brittle and can break more easily. While it’s true that calcium is essential to having strong bones, vitamin D plays an equally important part in maintaining our strength, both in our bones and our muscles.

Calcium, which we know can be gained from dairy products like milk and cheese, builds our bone strength. But this is no good to us without a bit of vitamin D because it’s this vitamin that allows the absorption of calcium into our system.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland provides a list of products which contain vitamin D, such as eggs, fish, and cereals.

Not only is vitamin D essential to keeping bones strong, but it plays a key role in helping our immune systems. It helps to fight off symptoms of the flu, and according to Healthline, it can even help in regulating our moods and fighting depression.

A study conducted in 2008 by the Journal of Internal Medicine found that people who suffered from depression noticed slight changes in their mood once they began to increase their vitamin D intake.

Iron is one of the most important minerals in our bodies, and without it, we develop anaemia, which is a condition where our blood lacks enough red blood cells that hold and transport oxygen through our bodies. This can cause tiredness and pale skin.

By having enough iron in our blood cells, we allow more oxygen to travel through our bodies which helps to keep us more alert, and less tired. This is why it’s such an important mineral to have, especially among students who need to focus more frequently and for longer periods of time.

Iron can be found in green vegetables, like spinach, as well as most red meats, grains and beans.

Vitamin C is another vital vitamin for our bodies. Without it, we are tired and our skin becomes damaged according to Healthline. Lack of vitamin C can cause increased bruising and joint pain.

Vitamin C can be found in fruit and vegetables, such as squash, broccoli, oranges, tomatoes and peppers. It helps to reduce our blood pressure and fights against heart diseases, which is why it’s so important.

Most vitamins and minerals can be found in food that we eat every day, but if some are unique to foods that aren’t exactly on your taste palette, then various health shops like Holland and Barrett sell vitamin supplements that work just as well.

Rachel Power

Image Credit: Roisin Maguire