What vitamins should I be taking? Key nutrient gaps through the age groups
Dr Oscar Duke issues warning over ‘fizzy’ vitamins
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Over the last 10-20 years, the UK has seen a significant decline in key nutrient intake posing a serious risk to immune health, research from the Health and Food Supplements Information Service (HSIS) has found. Vitamin A, B, D, and iron are among some of the most lacked nutrients in UK diets – and also some of the most important ones.
Despite an increasing lack of portion control and cases of comfort eating growing over the years, the nation is said to not be consuming enough of the vital immune-supporting nutrients needed for a well-functioning body, according to HSIS.
People are regularly lacking as many as eight key nutrients in their diets, which could pose potentially harmful effects on their health.
Dietitian Dr Carrie Ruxton from HSIS said: “Of key importance is that almost no one meets their vitamin D requirements in the UK, particularly during the winter, due to lack of sunlight.
“This is why the government recommends a vitamin D supplement providing 10 micrograms daily.”
Dr Gill Jenkins, GP and one of the HSIS report’s authors said: “Effective intake of vitamins and nutrients help support innate immunity, which creates a barrier against invading pathogens leading to disease, and adaptive immunity, which helps our bodies target viruses and create antibodies.
However, certain age groups have been found to be lacking more of some nutrients than others, deeming it crucial to tackle these areas first to get the health boost you need – but where do you start?
Express.co.uk spoke to Dietitian Dr Carrie Ruxton from HSIS to find out the key nutrients each age group is lacking, and what nutrients they’re most in need of.
What vitamins are teenagers lacking?
The HSIS report showed that almost one third (32 percent) of teenagers are short of iron.
One in six teenagers (16 percent) are short of calcium, and 10 percent are short of folate.
Dr Carrie said: “Shortfalls in folate are serious for teenage girls who might become pregnant and risk having a baby with a neural tube defect.
“More than half of teenage girls are short of iron, which could in time lead to iron deficiency anaemia, and more than a quarter are short of riboflavin.
“This can impact energy level, as B vitamins are required for energy release from food.”
Therefore bridging dietary gaps with a multivitamin and multimineral supplement is essential – especially for those not consuming certain food groups like meat.
What vitamins are lacking in the 20s age group?
Dr Carrie said: “One in five 20-30 year-olds are short of magnesium, and four in ten have a shortfall in selenium.
Poor selenium intakes are linked with poor immune function, which doesn’t bode well for this age group’s tendency to mix and socialise.
Dr Carrie said: “A third of women in this age group have intakes of iron below a level where deficiency is extremely likely.
“As for younger women, this poses a risk of iron deficiency anaemia, tiredness, and poor mental function at a time when young women are beginning to get grips with new jobs and careers.
“Again, bridging dietary gaps with a multivitamin and multimineral supplement is good common sense here.”
What vitamins are lacking in the 30s age group?
The thirties are a time of juggling careers, family, and households.
A healthy diet is vital to ensure intake of all micronutrients, however, this doesn’t always happen with shortfalls across the board due to skipping meals, consumption of ready meals and takeaways, and fad diets.
Dr Carrie said: “Simply being too busy often means poor nutrition. Almost a third of women in this age group are short of iodine, which increases risk during pregnancy as this nutrient is essential for the development of brain tissue and the health of the thyroid gland.
“B vitamins are also beneficial for maintaining energy levels and maintaining mood.”
Focus on iodine supplements and vitamin B to help promote energy levels, good brain function, digestion and better thyroid function – although, consult your GP first.
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What vitamins are lacking in the 40s age group?
Adults in their forties have shown to be at risk of shortfalls in iron, zinc, selenium, and iodine
Dr Carrie said: “Poor intake of selenium is linked with increased risk of heart disease and poor immune function.”
Small changes made to nutrient intake at this stage of life can future-proof health across the board.
She said: “Shortfalls in iron and zinc are critical in terms of immune function and intakes of these nutrients are often compromised due to an increasing trend of low or no intake of red meat.”
Dr Carrie advises taking a daily multivitamin and multimineral supplement to help meet vital nutrient needs, such as iron and zinc.
What vitamins are lacking in the fifties age group?
The HSIS report showed middle years’ nutrient intake of both men and women in this age group have shortfalls of calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
Dr Carrie said: “Calcium, magnesium, and potassium are vital for bone health. Where there are shortfalls in these nutrients, poor bone health is a risk, which can leave you more prone to fractures, particularly after menopause in women – although men are also at risk.”
What vitamins are lacking in the sixties age group?
A healthy diet with adequate levels of key nutrients from middle age can contribute to the prevention of common health worries, such as memory loss, joint stiffness and deteriorating eyesight.
Dr Carrie said: “People in this age group do not tend to eat the recommended two portions a week of oily fish, which is the main source of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet.
“This puts them at risk of poor brain health and poor heart health, which are common problems in this age group. More than one in 10 women in this age group are short of calcium and one in 10 is short of iron.”
She continued: “The reasons for these deficits across all decades of life tend to be due to skipping meals because people are too busy to cook and the rise of fad diets.
“One in eight people are now vegan or vegetarian with many more simply cutting their meat intake with risk of shortfalls in iron, zinc, B12, vitamin D selenium and iodine.
“These dietary gaps can generally be filled by taking a multivitamin and multimineral supplement with a wide range of nutrients in recommended amounts, as well as omega-3 or fish oil supplements.”
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