Catherine Collins, chief dietician at St George's Hospital in Tooting, says, people can spread their fruit and vegetable intake across a week instead. The advice flies in the face of the Government's Five A Day campaign which encourages people to eat five pieces of fruits and vegetables a day.
But Collins says, "The whole idea that you must meet some vitamin and mineral target every day of your life is a marketing myth.You can eat lots of fruits and veggies one day and not much the next, but over a week you will still get the right amount of nutrients." She also said in The Guardian that taking extra vitamin pills might not do people much good either. "There is very little scientific evidence of any benefit whatsoever in taking a daily multi-vitamin," she said. "You cannot exist on a poor diet and shore yourself up with a multi-vitamin."
Her comments come after a study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found men with prostate cancer who took more than seven multi-vitamins a week were 30 per cent more likely to get an advanced and fatal form of the disease. Dr Toni Steer, nutritionist with MRC Human Nutrition Research in Cambridge, said supplements cannot compensate good healthy food.
WHAT DOES AND DOESN'T WORK
Common claim: Provides most of your recommended daily allowances of key vitamins. Reality Check: While they may plug gaps in diet, they cannot replace fruit and vegetable.
Antioxidants (beta carotene, vitamins A, E, C and selenium)
Common Claim: Daily intake will lower risk of cancer, heart disease and reduce the signs of ageing. Reality Check: Only true if consumed in fruit and vegetables.
Evening Primrose oil
Common claim: Can reduce symptoms of PMT, breast pain, hot flushes and eczema. Reality check: No current evidence to show it is effective in treating these conditions.
Vitamin C megadose
Common claim: 1g doses will ward off or even cure the common cold. Reality Check: The human body can absorb only 500mg of vitamin C and will excrete the excess. Vitamin C reduces the average length of a common cold from five days to four and a half.
Common claim: Will boost your immune system, warding off the common cold. Reality check: Studies show it has daily effect.
Made by the body when it is exposed to sunlight, but many of us keep out of the sun and it may therefore be deficient. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to osteoporosis, cancers of the breast, colon and ovary, multiple sclerosis & insulin-dependent diabetes.
Pregnant women should take folic acid complements (400 micrograms a day) in first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Known to prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida.
There is evidence that it can relieve symptoms of osteoporosis in moderate sufferers.