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Most modern-day diseases we suffer from are in some way related to sub-optimum nutrition. And, with the food we consume today being less nutritious than ever before, vitamins have increasingly become more of a commodity than a luxury.

But knowing which vitamins to take can be a minefield. Here, Patrick provides some answers to help you get to grips with the ABCs of vitamins, why you should consider taking them and which are the most important ones.

Should we be taking vitamins at all?

The greatest myth in nutrition is that ‘you can get all the nutrition you need from a well-balanced diet’. The sad truth is that the food we eat today is nutritionally impoverished because of modern farming practices; food manufacturing processes and refinement; as well as cooking methods, which can destroy more than half the nutrients in food before it even reaches your plate.

Most people put up with feeling ‘alright’ instead of living life at an optimum level of health. To date, the evidence suggests that most people are being short-changed on health, owing to inadequate intake of vitamins.  Taking vitamin supplements, not only adds years to your life, but also adds life to your years.

But which vitamins in particular should we take?

Vitamin A is absolutely essential for every single cell in the body. It helps to protect your DNA, it helps to keep your skin healthy and it helps to protect your body cells from infection. So, it’s an essential vitamin, you need every day.

B vitamins will increase your energy levels, help you cope well under pressure and maintain a balanced state of mind.

Vitamin C is necessary for a strong immune system, for collagen and bone formation, for energy production and as an antioxidant. The RDA for Vitamin C is 60mg – the equivalent of an orange a day but studies have shown that the real protective benefits of Vitamin C only become significant when the intake is 400-1,000mg a day – the equivalent of 22 oranges! So, you can see why supplementation is important. Patrick Holford’s Immune C® provides a combination of herbal ingredients, Vitamin C and Zinc that are essential for everyday immune system nutrition.

Vitamin E is one of the most essential antioxidants and helps the body to use oxygen properly. Supplementation of this vitamin has been shown to boost immunity and reduce infections in the elderly as well as halving the risk of cataracts.

What happens when we have too much of one vitamin? 

Most vitamins are water soluble and, if you take too much, you just excrete them in your urine. Vitamin A and D are fat soluble and stored in the body. Theoretically, if you take much too much, they could become harmful but the chances of having a toxic reaction, to even the higher-dose supplements available in health food shops, is extremely unlikely unless you take considerably more tablets than advised.

Find out more about the wide-range of supplements by Patrick Holford here.