The best supplements to take

7 October 2015 by
First published: 20 January 2015

In order for the body to function efficiently, a range of vitamins and minerals are required. But these can change from season to season, so check out registered pharmacist Gemma Fromage’s guide to the best supplements to take, and when.

All year round

There are the essential vitamins, of which you should always aim to take in your Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA). These can be split into water-soluble – including B vitamins and vitamin C – and fat-soluble – including vitamins A, D, E and K. Fat-soluble vitamins, unlike water-soluble vitamins, are not naturally eliminated by the body, and therefore care needs to be taken not to exceed the RDA as they’ll be stored in the body and may reach toxic levels.

Taking a comprehensive multivitamin and mineral supplement such as Centrum (£8.99, makes getting your RDA of these year-round essentials much easier. An antioxidant should also be taken to protect from free radicals in the body, too – commonly caused by smoking, exposure to UV rays and pollution – which can cause injury to cells and damage to DNA.


As winter draws in, when hours of daylight are at a minimum, there are a couple of key supplements to help you keep feeling your best.

Zinc and vitamin C work together to keep your immune system functioning efficiently. While vitamin C increases the number of lymphocytes – key for immune functions – both help with the production of white blood cells. The body can’t store zinc and so a continuous supply is needed to prevent depletion.

Vitamin D is unique because it’s made in our own skin, liver and kidneys from exposure to the sun. When sun exposure is minimal, it’s necessary to get vitamin D from other sources. An RDA of 600-800 IU daily supports immune function, regulates hormones and aids the absorption of calcium.


Spring cleaning isn’t just necessary for your home, it’s also great for your body. Spring is the perfect time to detox and ensure your liver and other major organs are in peak condition.

L-glutathione, the body’s main water-soluble antioxidant, is easily depleted due to stress, sickness or intake of certain drugs. Glutathione is present in every cell of the body and acts as a valuable free radical scavenger, protecting DNA, reducing pain and inflammation and keeping energy levels up. Milk thistle contains the photochemical silymarin which works to calm inflammation and help repair damaged liver tissue. Supplements like Holland & Barrett Milk Thistle Capsules (£28.99, may reduce oxidative stress.


Summer may be the season of fun for many, but it’s important to protect your body from dangers that aren’t always immediately obvious. You should protect your body – both inside and out – from harmful UV rays all year round, but extra protection is required when the sun is out in all its glory.

If you love BBQs, then potent antioxidant L-carnosine should be on your list. When cooked quickly at high temperatures, meat produces chemicals called advanced glycalation end products (AGEs). AGEs promote oxidative stress and cellular inflammation, in time leading to premature wrinkles and even conditions such as heart disease and Alzheimer’s. A dose of 500mg twice a day of L-carnosine is recommended to block the affects of AGEs.


As autumn approaches and many of us wind down in preparation for the colder months ahead, it’s common to experience a lack of energy and sluggishness with the gastrointestinal (GI) system.

The B vitamins family is vital in keeping the body running efficiently. They assist in converting food into fuel, allowing us to maintain energy levels throughout the day.

The stomach and intestines contain millions of good bacteria that keep the GI system and immune system functioning correctly. Taking a pre and probiotic supplement helps the good bacteria flourish. A comprehensive probiotic such as Optibac (£10.99, is helpful to boost daily immunity and also contains antioxidants such as vitamin C.

As with all supplements it’s important to remember that they are just that – a supplement – and shouldn’t be used as a replacement for a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.