Food supplements

Do you need vitamins, minerals or other extras?

If you eat at least 5 fruit and veg a day, regular intakes of nuts and seeds, plus beans, fish and wholegrains, then you should get all the vitamins and minerals you need. 

If you skip meals, hate vegetables, eat little fish, avoid the sun (which helps to make vitamin D in your skin), eat processed microwaved meals, and know your diet is not as good as it could be, you may benefit from a daily vitamin and mineral supplement. 

Avoid mega-doses. Look for supplements supplying around 100% of the recommended daily amounts (RDAs) - also known as Nutrient Reference Values (NRVs).

But I don't like vegetables

You probably do. The problem is often over-cooking. Try them lightly steamed, stir-fried or flashed on a barbecue. Try more exotic options. Heard of rainbow chard, butternut squash or romanesco? Buy what’s in season - much cheaper and, if local, often fresher and tastier.

Sweet potato is an alternative to regular white potato - they’re packed full of vitamin A - while vegetarian curries, Chinese and Thai meals are so tasty you won’t miss the meat.

So does a smoothie count as a portion of fruit?

If you include a good amount of whole fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables, home-made smoothie can count as up to two of your 5-a-day.

Use a variety of different fruits and vegetables (carrot and beetroot are especially good) and add a few leaves of spinach or kale, too. You won’t taste the extra leaves but they add extra vitamins, fibre and colour.

Shop-bought smoothies may have hidden extras like flavourings and much less fruit. Check labels. They should tell you whether they count as a portion. (Go easy: smoothie and fruit juice sugars may be natural but they are still free sugars.)

What about nuts and pulses?

They taste great and are an excellent easy source of protein, vitamins, minerals and, in the case of nuts, ‘good’ monounsaturated and omega-3 oils.

Soy beans are also full of isoflavones which help hormone balance and may even reduce your risk of prostate cancer. 

  • Chuck an extra can of beans in your chilli 
  • sprinkle some nuts and seeds on your cereal or stir-fry 
  • add a handful of red lentils to your bolognese.

We don't currently post comments online but are always keen to hear your feedback.

This content is wholly based on the Men's Health Forum's man manual Eat. Drink. Don't Diet. which was prepared in line with the NHS England Information Standard of which the MHF is a member. Follow the links for more information or to buy copies.


Date published 18/06/15
Date of last review 28/02/15
Date of next review 28/02/18

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