The best way for most of us to get enough vitamins is to eat a varied and balanced diet. This includes plenty of fruit and vegetables; plenty of starchy foods, such as bread, rice, potatoes, and pasta; some milk and dairy foods; some meat, fish, eggs, and beans and other non-dairy sources of protein. Foods and drinks high in fat and/or sugar should be kept to a minimum.
That's because fish and shellfish are good sources of many vitamins and minerals. Oily fish- such as salmon and fresh tuna, mackerel or sardines, are particularly high in long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, which many help to keep your heart healthy.
Vitamin D only occurs naturally in a few foods, such as oily and eggs. It is also added to some foods such as fat spreads and breakfast cereals. The best source of vitamin D is summer sunlight on our skin. However, it’s sensible to keep your children’s skin safe in the sun. Children shouldn’t be out too long in the sun in hot weather. Remember to cover up or protect their skin before it turns red or burns.
It’s important that children still receive vitamins, even if they get out in the sun. If you have low levels of certain vitamins, you may develop a deficiency disease. Too little vitamin D, for example, could lead to rickets in children.
All babies and young children aged six months to five years should take a daily supplement containing vitamin D in the form of vitamin drops, to help them to meet the requirement set for this age group of 7-8.5 micrograms of vitamin D per day. However, babies who are fed infant formula will not need vitamin drops until they are receiving less than 500ml (about a pint) of infant formula a day, as these products are fortified with vitamin D. If you are breastfeeding your baby and you didn’t take vitamin D supplements throughout pregnancy, your health visitor may advise you to give your baby vitamin drops containing vitamin D from the age of one month.
Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids. We need them for our bodies to work normally. Because essential fatty acids (ALA, DHA, EPA) are not made in the body, we need to get them from food continuously.
There are several types of Omega-3 fatty acids. Two of the most important omega-3 fatty acids contained in fish oil are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), Several animal, laboratory and population studies have found an association between omega-3 fats and healthier cholesterol levels, a lower risk of dementia and reduced vascular risk, inflammation and oxidative damage.
Many studies have been done on the benefits of fish oil. A lot of these studies have focussed on heart health and the effect of reducing cholesterol.The European Food Safety Authority has rigorously reviewed the clinical evidence and concluded that the main constituents of Omega-3, DHA and EPA do contribute to the maintenance of normal blood pressure, the maintenance of normal blood triglyceride levels and the normal functioning of the heart.
In addition to this it has been proven that Omega-3 has clear health benefits for children; DHA contributes to the normal visual development of infants up to 12 months of age, that maternal intake contributes to the normal brain development of the foetus and breastfed infants and the normal development of the eye of the foetus and breastfed infants.
If you decide to use a supplement, your clear advice is fish oil, which has the Omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. Algae oil supplements and Krill oil supplements do not have the same level of clinical evidence and proven benefits.
Experts usually recommend one gram (1,000 milligram) of DHA and EPA combined from fish oil daily. People with certain health conditions may take doses of up to five gram a day, but only under medical supervision.
The most common side-effect from fish oil is indigestion and wind.
In high doses, three grams and above, Omega-3 supplements (EPA/DHA) can increase the risk of bleeding. People with bleeding conditions, or who take medicines that could increase bleeding, like warfarin, clopidrogel and some painkillers, should seek medical advice before using any Omega-3 supplements.
Seek medical advice before using a supplement. Before you start using any supplement, you should always seek medical advice. Your doctor may have specific recommendations, or warning, depending on your health and the other medicines you take.