If you're having a bit of a diet meltdown (seriously, who hasn't got to a Friday and realised they've eaten nothing but convenience food for three days?) maybe now's the time to consider adding a multivitamin to your diet.
It's easy to go and grab the shiniest packet off the shelf, but how can we make sure we're choosing the right formulation and taking them properly? To help answer some of our niggling questions, we asked expert nutritionist Fiona Hunter to reveal the six classic pill-popping mistakes we're all making...
1. Doing a swap
The first most common mistake is thinking, 'I've popped a pill so my healthy diet can sod off'! Supplements are not a substitute for a healthy balanced diet, they're an insurance policy. A supplement can't bring you back from a heavy night of cocktails or counteract three daily Big Macs. Take a multivitamin if you want to support a healthy lifestyle.
2. Be complete
It's important to take an A-Z formulation that's specifically targeted to women. It's only necessary to take a single vitamin or mineral if you're treating a specific medical issue. For example, if you have a cold, take a multivitamin every day as normal but add extra vitamin C to tackle the sniffles. Sometimes if you take lots of different vitamin and mineral tablets separately the absorption of one will affect the absorption of others, so make sure you get expert advice and read the labels carefully.
3. Don't get high
Taking very high doses is another mistake. It can seem very attractive when a tiny pill contains 300% of your vitamin C RDA in one tablet, but your body can't hold on to Vitamin C and B vitamins effectively. Taking more than you need will simply cause you to pee it out – basically you're creating very expensive urine!
4. Get organised
Ideally you should take supplements daily as part of your general routine. Leave them somewhere you will definitely see them and try to associate them with something you do every day like brushing your teeth, turning on the computer or eating breakfast. If you miss a few days there's no need to get stressed! Just pick up where you left off as soon as you can.
5. Get clued up
It can be harmful to takes some supplements if you don't really need them. Even though iron deficiency is common among women (roughly one in four have low iron stores) because of monthly blood loss, too much iron can cause digestive problems. Some forms, like iron feronate and iron gluconate, can cause bloating and constipation. Some of them can even be toxic and poisonous in high levels. If in doubt, or if you are taking any other medications, talk to an expert.
6. Don't ignore your local pharmacist
Doctors don't specialise in issues of nutrition or supplements, so it's far better to talk to your local pharmacist who can advise you on what to take and any possible interactions that may occur.
Take a peek at our A-Z guide to vitamins and minerals in the gallery below...
For a complete A-Z multivitamin try Centrum Women, £6.99, boots.com.
Have you been making these mistakes?
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