Many of us receive lots of messages these days about our health. Whether that’s government advice, product advertisements, or peer information – it can be difficult to switch off from what we should be doing to stay heathy. And that includes our vitamin intake, and whether we are getting the right amounts for our personal lifestyles.
In general, the term ‘vitamins’ has garnered a lot of attention in the UK judging from Google Trend data. The global dietary supplements market size was estimated at £98.54 billion last year, with a growth of 8.2 per cent forecasted by 2027. It seems that as a population, we’re becoming more conscious about our health and improving our lifestyle, whether this is by achieving cleaner air through reducing greenhouse gas emissions, eating a healthy balanced diet, or improving the health of our bodily functions with magnesium supplements — health and nutrition is a driving force in the current consumer market.
Google Trends data of ‘vitamins’ searches over the last year
It’s understandable that we’re becoming more conscious of our health, given the amount of pollutants emitted into our atmosphere every year and the amount of artificial ingredients in our food. It’s important to understand our lifestyles to determine what our bodies are most in need of, and how we can keep our bodily functions running at optimum performance. Sometimes, fitting all the right vitamins and nutrients into our diet alone can be difficult, and can depend on our lifestyle, so we might need an extra boost from the right vitamins alongside a balanced diet.
Here, we’ll take a look at health vitamins suited to you based on your lifestyle, considering if you live in a polluted area, the climate of your country, and if you work in an office.
With the population growing exponentially and living longer, there’s more people on the planet which is causing a lot more fossil fuels being burnt in order to sustain us. Because of this, the air we’re breathing in is dangerously polluted — according to WHO, around 4.6 million people die each year from air pollution, and 90 per cent of the world’s population live in areas where pollution exceeds safety guidelines. The effects on our bodies can be harmful, however some areas are worse than others. Research if you live in a polluted area by postcode with BBC.
Is your area polluted? Research in 2017 has suggested that taking the right vitamins in a seriously polluted area could protect your DNA from heritable damage by breathing in miniscule particles, such as vitamin B6 and B12. Researchers investigated PM2.5, fine particulate pollutants that lodge in our organs, and found that when given large doses of B vitamin supplementation, the effect of PM2.5 on DNA damage was limited between 28-76 per cent.
Although more research is needed, researcher Jia Zhong said: “I think that B vitamins are a likely hope that we can potentially utilise as an individualised treatment to complement the policy regulations to minimise the impacts of air pollution.”
B vitamins play a vital role in maintaining good health and wellbeing, including promoting healthy cell growth, preventing infections, enhancing energy levels, and brain function.
When in a hotter climate, your body has to work harder to keep up with the higher temperature — your heart rate increases, you sweat more water and essential minerals, your blood thickens, and your immune cell function may be inhibited — leading to illness susceptibility. To avoid overexerting yourself, research has shown that vitamin C can help the body’s physiological response to stress as well as preserve immune functioning, reduce the chances of developing heat-related illnesses such as heat rash and exhaustion, as well as cut down the amount of time it takes for your body to acclimatise to the heat.
Furthermore, heat exacerbates the effects of pollution, so vitamin B may be beneficial for your health too.
Similarly, when in a cold country, you’re likely exposed to less sunlight and the days are darker and shorter in the winter, therefore you’re probably lacking vitamin D. Vitamin D3 is essential for healthy teeth, bone and muscle growth, and regulating calcium in the body. Our bodies struggle to get vitamin D from food alone, so sunlight is a primary source. A vitamin D deficiency could lead to bone deformities and pain like rickets.
Thirdly, if you’re an office worker, you’re probably sat at a desk all day with minimal movement apart from typing, heading to the kitchen for a cup of tea or coffee, or when you go to a meeting or the loo. The nine to five day can take its toll on our bodies, with joint pain and arthritis common complaints among office workers.
A joint supplement can help. Omega-3 is well established in research as effective against inflammatory joint pain and arthritis, therefore appropriate supplementation of Omega-3 fatty acids can help alleviate the pain or mitigate the effects, as well as support eye health which is important when you’re sitting staring at a screen all day straining your eyes.
It’s important to remember than when supplementing with vitamins, you must have a healthy diet to reap the benefits — it isn’t a total replacement. If you’re concerned about your health, please visit your GP.
Whyand, T., Hurst, J.R., Beckles, M. and Caplin, M.E., 2018. Pollution and respiratory disease: can diet or supplements help? A review. Respiratory research, 19(1), p.79.
Zhong, J., Karlsson, O., Wang, G., Li, J., Guo, Y., Lin, X., Zemplenyi, M., Sanchez-Guerra, M., Trevisi, L., Urch, B. and Speck, M., 2017. B vitamins attenuate the epigenetic effects of ambient fine particles in a pilot human intervention trial. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(13), pp.3503-3508.
Carrillo, A.E., Murphy, R.J. and Cheung, S.S., 2008. Vitamin C supplementation and salivary immune function following exercise-heat stress. International journal of sports physiology and performance, 3(4), pp.516-530.
Goldberg, R.J. and Katz, J., 2007. A meta-analysis of the analgesic effects of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation for inflammatory joint pain. Pain, 129(1-2), pp.210-223.