I’d recommend that people speak to a healthcare professional, like a local dietitian. The best place to start is to simply increase your fruits and vegetables because the evidence we have shows that fruits and vegetables are beneficial for your heart, your brain, your muscles, your bones and so on. I don’t think it’s very difficult to say, “let’s eat more fruits and vegetables”. I think a good rule of thumb is to try and include fruits and vegetables in every single meal. So you know, some berries with your breakfast, some salad on your lunch, some chopped vegetables with your dinner, something like that. It can be a simple thing to do. If someone’s already eating fruit and vegetables at each meal, try to increase it; so if someone is eating one portion at each meal, maybe aiming for 2–3 portions at each meal might be a good goal.

Is it worth taking dietary supplements or can a good diet mean there’s no need?

I’m a registered dietitian so I’m a big fan of diet over supplements in most scenarios, except vitamin D which comes from the sun. Unfortunately for about six months of the year, from about September to March, in a country which lies so far from the equator, it doesn’t matter how good the weather is, it doesn’t matter how much sun we have, we’re not going to make any vitamin D.

 

I recommend taking a vitamin D supplement in the winter time, from September to March. I think a good place to start is 2,000 International Units (IU) per day. However I do advise most people to get a blood test to make sure they’re taking the correct dose. I also recommend that people get vitamin D3 which is cholecalciferol, as opposed to vitamin D2, and is available in pharmacies.

 

Finally, I recommend people take it with a meal because fatty acids help the absorption of vitamin D. If you take it first thing in the morning or last thing at night without any food in your tummy it’s not going to be absorbed as well. So build it into your daily routine; have it with lunch, have it with dinner, whatever it is, have it on a daily basis.