Multivitamins: Do you need them and what should you be taking?

'Everyone in Ireland should be taking a vitamin D supplement'
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

14.16 16 Oct 2023

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Multivitamins: Do you need the...

Multivitamins: Do you need them and what should you be taking?

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

14.16 16 Oct 2023

Share this article

We're constantly being 'bombarded' with marketing from multivitamin companies - but do we need them at all?

Pharmacist and founder of the health podcast at Sheena Mitchell said vitamins can be important, as not everyone has a balanced diet.

She told The Pat Kenny Show the best way to get multivitamins is through your food.


"Parents, and people in general, are bombarded with marketing from multivitamins companies," she said.

"We even find, on the ground in the pharmacy, we have different companies telling us that their product is going to change our customers lives every other week.

"We all know the best way to get your multivitamins and nutrients is from your food.

"However, not everyone has a perfect diet".

'We have to be realists'

Ms Mitchell said people can miss out on certain foods for medical reasons, such as someone who is coeliac, or simply just a picky eater.

"I think parents are another group who are very busy; a lot of people now are working parents, they're trying to hold down two jobs," she said.

"How we expect them to be come up with a completely nutritionally balanced meal, I think we have to be realists.

"Life gets in the way and sometimes we're eating in our cars, we're eating on the move.

"So, there are some adults as well for which multivitamins could be a benefit."

'Watch out for that'

Ms Mitchell said the important thing to watch out for is intake.

"There are multivitamins available to all age groups, and these don't need to be hugely expensive," she said.

"The reference intakes are what to look out for.

"These are set out by EU legislation, so these aren't just made up.

"A lot of the multivitamin brands will have a whole host of other added ingredients that maybe don't have the evidence behind them.

"I'd definitely urge parents to watch out for that.

"What you're looking for is a good balance of vitamin A, all your B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin D".

Various pills, capsules and tablets in November 2020. Image: Michal Moravcik / Alamy Stock Photo

Ms Mitchell said vitamin D is particularly important.

"I want to emphasise D because actually everyone in Ireland, as part of HSE guidance, should be taking a vitamin D supplement," she said.

"The only way vitamin D is produced in our bodies is in response to sun exposure.

"Even in the height of summer in Ireland, you'd want to be standing outside in shorts and a t-shirt for four hours.

"Vitamin D is essential to help the uptake of calcium.

"We know children and adults, particularly as you get older, your vitamin D requirements actually increase."

Ms Mitchell said people should be careful with fat-soluble vitamins A, D E and K.

"If you take them, they're going to be stored in your body, so you can actually overdose on those particular four vitamins.

"When you take a water-soluble vitamin, it basically is used by your body there and then, and if you don't need it then you will excrete it," she added.

Main image: A woman holds some daily supplements in February 2020. Image: Viktoryia Vinnikava / Alamy Stock Photo

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Added Ingredients Coeliac Multivitamins Pharmacist Sheena Mitchell The Pat Kenny Show Vitamin A Vitamin D Vitamin E

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