Personal trainer
Health & Wellbeing

Vitamins: super supplements or crazy concoctions?

Vitamin boxes

When your clients meet you, prepared to set out on a transformational fitness journey, they're not just expecting a by-the-books training regime that gets their heart racing... they want a full consultation on how to adapt their lifestyle to reach their fitness goals. That includes their diet and, increasingly, PTs are facing questions about how to supplement what they eat with vitamins.

Unfortunately a lack of education around supplements means many people (and even some trainers) aren't equipped with the knowledge to correctly supplement diets with safe, effective vitamins. To help you along, we've got a quick guide to the vitamins you should - and shouldn't - recommend.

  • Vitamin B3 - As recently as 2014, B3 was shown to potentially stimulate infections, liver problems and internal bleeding. Despite the hype, one to avoid.
  • Vitamin C - Not the great cure or preventative measure to the common cold you'd be led to believe. A healthy intake of citrus fruits or even strawberries will provide all the C you need, but don't overdo it.
  • Vitamin D - While we get some of this from the sun, it isn't quite enough to turn us into Superman. It's a vital ingredient though, and one that strengthens bones and is associated with increased life expectancy, so definitely one we can get behind.
  • Vitamin E - A study in 2011 dispelled the claim this antioxidant could protect against cancer, actually showing it could increase the risk of developing the disease. To get a healthy amount, eat plenty of greens, especially spinach.
  • Antioxidants - Overindulgence of antioxidants like vitamin A, C and E can be harmful so it's recommended to stick with what you naturally get from food instead
  • Multivitamins - A reliance on these is unnecessary and possibly more bad than good. You get plenty of multivitamin ingredients in your food already, not to mention a 2012 study linked it to a higher risk of death.
  • Probiotics - Bacteria! There's loads of it inside you and it needs stimulating, right? Maybe. There isn't enough evidence to suggest probioitic supplements have any relaibly positive effects yet. While we wait for the research to prove it, play safe and have a yoghurt instead.
  • Zinc - Unlike vitamin C, zinc is a far more likely way to shorten your cold as it seems to disrupt the replication of rhinoviruses that cause it