Vitamins and Dietary Supplements in Ireland
Vitamins and dietary supplements continued to see strong development and diversification along gender lines in 2013 as manufacturers responded to increasing consumer demand for products with a more targeted performance. Both male and female Irish consumers have become more demanding in terms of product ingredients in recent years as knowledge and awareness of the benefits of various vitamins, minerals and nutrients increases. Furthermore, there is a growing preference for multifunctional vitamins and dietary supplements which address a range of issues and concerns in one product, resulting in an increasing number of condition specific products in terms of pregnancy care, joint care and energy products, among others.
Vitamins and dietary supplements is expected to increase in value at a CAGR of 3% in constant 2013 terms over the forecast period. Despite ongoing new product development and the regular introduction of strong brand extensions, the mature nature of the category in Ireland precludes further dramatic rates of growth. In addition, new supplements tend to remain niche in nature, appealing only to a small minority of consumers and generating little in the way of value sales.
Thinking of taking food supplements?
If your kitchen cupboards contain an alphabet of vitamin and mineral supplements, you are not alone. On the island of Ireland, one in four of us is taking food supplements, often to make up for what we feel is a lack in our normal diet, or because we feel generally run down, or to help ward off colds in the winter. But can they really make a difference? This guide to food supplements will answer most of your questions.
In collaboration with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland and the Food Standards Agency Northern Ireland.
What are food supplements and what do they do?
Food supplements are concentrated sources of nutrients taken as a dietary top-up. They include fish oils, which have been shown to benefit heart health, minerals like iron to help prevent anaemia, and a whole list of vitamins, from A to K. Supplements contain higher amounts of nutrients than are found in most foods.
Why do people take food supplements?
All women of childbearing age (and who are sexually active) should take a 400μg folic acid supplement daily to prevent birth defects, such as spina bifida, in the baby. Many pregnancies are unplanned so it is important that women take folic acid even if they are using contraceptives.
In certain circumstances your doctor may advise you to take a food supplement e.g. supplements may be needed for fragile bones and sometimes older people may have difficulty absorbing the nutrients they need from food and need to take extra in supplement form.
Generally, you do not need to take food supplements if you are healthy and eat a normal balanced diet. That means a diet which contains a variety of foods, including starchy foods (preferably wholegrain), fruit and vegetables, low-fat dairy foods, lean meat and fish. Too much of certain supplements can be harmful and cause unwanted side effects.
How do I know that what I am taking is safe?
The European Union has introduced new rules to help ensure food supplements are safe and properly labelled. Only certain nutrients may be used in food supplements and these may only be used in amounts that do not pose a health risk. Maximum safe levels for some supplements have yet to be set.
What’s on the label?
The label must show clearly:
What the ingredients are
How much to take, and how often
The amount of each nutrient in a supplement, expressed as a percentage of RDA
(the recommended daily allowance for an adult)
A statement that the supplement is not designed to replace a healthy, balanced diet.
Will supplements make up for not eating well?
Taking supplements will not correct a poor diet. We get a lot more from foods than just one or two vitamins or minerals; we also get energy, protein, fibre and other natural compounds that can have beneficial effects on our health. It’s the combination of nutrients working together in food that keeps us healthy.
Do I need to give my child food supplements?
Some babies and children can benefit from taking a food supplement. Your own health professional is the only one who can advise for your baby and child. If he/she advises you to supplement your baby or child’s diet, use a product that is specifically designed for their age group. Because babies and children are smaller than adults it is much easier to take unsafe amounts.
Get advice before taking a supplement
Most people who take food supplements don’t check first with their doctor or a dietitian. If you are thinking about trying a supplement, here are a couple of important points to bear in mind:
Do watch out for unreasonable health claims
If a claim seems too good to be true then it probably is. It will take time for the
new rules to remove all claims which are not backed up by science. Contact the
Food Safety Authority of Ireland (ROI) or the Food Standards Agency (NI) if you
Don’t mix food supplements and medicines
Some food supplements can interact with medicines. So if you are taking any medication, seek advice from either a GP or dietitian.
Do eat a healthy, balanced diet
Eat a variety of foods, including wholegrains, fruit and vegetables, lean meat and fish.
Eat only small amounts of sugary and fatty foods such as chocolate, biscuits and crisps.
Don’t take more than the recommended daily dose
Taking too much of a supplement can be harmful, or even toxic. If the manufacturer
recommends just one a day, two are unlikely to be any better for you, and may even
For more information on food supplements and the new EU legislation, check out the following resources:
Irish Nutrition & Dietetic Institute
British Dietetic Association
The Nutrition SocietyVitamins and Dietary Supplements in Ireland – Taj Dearob Pharma | Vitamins and dietary supplements continued to see strong development and diversification along gender lines in 2013 as manufacturers responded to increasing consumer demand for products with a more targeted performance.
Vitamins and Dietary Supplements in Ireland – Taj Dearob Pharma | Vitamins and dietary supplements continued to see strong development and diversification along gender lines in 2013 as manufacturers responded to increasing consumer demand for products with a more targeted performance.