Fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins
Major and trace minerals
Vitamins and minerals are essential for the health of our bodies. This is especially so for both potential parents when planning to have a baby and for women during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Taking specific vitamins or multivitamin supplements has become increasingly popular in recent years. However, we can generally obtain adequate amounts of all our required vitamins and minerals through a varied and well-balanced diet. Therefore, supplementing is rarely required.
There are some circumstances in which supplementing may be recommended (for example, folic acid is recommended for at least one month before conception and the first 12 weeks of pregnancy) and supplementing may be beneficial for people who are deficient in certain vitamins and minerals. This can be the case if you smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol regularly, have eating disorders (such as anorexia or bulimia) or have an inadequate or restrictive diet.
What is not as well known is that care must be taken when supplementing with high doses of vitamins and minerals because it is possible to 'overdose' on them. This can lead to health conditions and/or unwanted side affects, because the excess vitamins and minerals have become toxic to the body. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding need to be especially careful.