Overall, food is a better source of vitamins and minerals than a supplement. Supplements do, however, have their place for certain people for example: an iron supplement may be recommended for a child or woman suffering from iron deficiency anaemia. Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant are recommended to take a 400 microgram supplement of folic acid to help prevent against neural tube defects in their baby, and vitamin B12 supplementation is recommended for vegetarians; (the best source of this vitamin is found in animal products such as meat and dairy foods).
Calcium is essential for bone development. The UK Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI) which is the intake deemed sufficient to satisfy 97% of the population’s requirements is set as 700mg calcium a day for adults including elderly people. The RNI for teenagers is 1000mg/day for males, 800mg/day for females and 550mg for children aged 7-10 years.
To meet the RNI for calcium each day we would advise children, young people and adults to consume up to 3 portions of low fat dairy foods a day (a glass of milk, a 125g pot of yogurt or a matchbox size piece of cheddar cheese). Low fat versions of these products contain as much calcium as full fat varieties and they are also a good source of protein, vitamins A, D and B12. Other good sources of calcium include dark green leafy vegetables and soft bones in tinned fish.
The PHA website www.enjoyhealthyeating.info promotes a healthy balanced diet for adults and recommends milk and dairy foods particularly lower fat varieties as part of this balance. Within the website there is a section which provides specific information on bone health.