Q: Is it true that it’s a waste of money taking multivitamin supplements as they just go straight through you?

A: That can be partly true, according to Dr Rachael Eckel, a consultant cosmetic dermatologist who has a special interest in nutrition. While eating fresh food is always the baseline, Dr Eckel supports taking a supplement: ‘Multivitamins are your daily insurance policy against an imperfect diet,’ she explains. This may be due to choice of food, skipping meals and/or methods of production or the cooking process.

`You need to take multivitamin supplements with (non-dairy) fat,’ she explains. This is because they contain two types of vitamin: ones like A, D, E and K, which need fats to be absorbed, and others like B and C, which don’t. You could take a fish oil supplement at the same time or eat oily fish (eg, salmon or kippers), avocado, nuts, natural peanut butter with no added sugar or olive oil.

But your body cannot absorb all the multivitamin nutrients at once. ‘So you do eliminate a portion,’ says Dr Eckel. ‘You can maximise the absorption by splitting the pill and taking half in the morning, the other in the evening with food.’ Also, soluble vitamins are eliminated in 12 to 16 hours anyway, so by taking a multivitamin in two doses you maintain steady levels.

Half of pregnancies are unplanned and go unnoticed for several weeks, so women of childbearing age should choose a multivitamin containing folic acid. A recent study showed that women who took folic acid supplements in the first four to eight weeks of pregnancy halved their risk of having a child with autism. The Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies has advised that children under five should take daily vitamin drops to avoid deficiencies, particularly of vitamin D.

Pharmacist Shabir Daya recommends the following: for everyone, My Favorite Multiple Energizer by Natrol, £16.50 for 60 tablets; for women of childbearing age, Femforte Multi by BioCare, £24.95 for 90 capsules; for children 1 two years and above, Animal Parade Gold by Nature’s Plus, £12.80 for 60 naturally cherry-flavoured chewable tablets; for fish oil, try IdealOmega 3 by Ideal Omega, £23.70 for 60 capsules.

ONE IN THREE WOMEN OVER 18 SUFFERS FROM INCONTINENCE to some degree and, while we take it for granted that nappies are leak-proof, super-absorbent and skin-friendly, incontinence pads haven’t caught up. So hats off to P&G for creating Always Discreet – a comprehensive range for women with sensitive bladders, which includes liners, pads (both up to 40 per cent thinner than the current leading brand) and super-protective pants. Having seen these demoed, absorbency seems impressive and the re-closable wrapper makes disposal much simpler. Available nationwide from £1.99 for 24 liners. For a free sample and tips from Dr Sarah Jarvis, visit


Happy Hopperz now come in an extra large version, brilliant for children aged five or older. With grippable ears or horns and four steady hooves, the bouncy animals help strengthen core muscles and increase balance and coordination skills. Our child testers adored them; the tan horse was a hit with Raphael Sembi (right). Available in tan or white horse, blue or black/white bull, £44.99 each,

Keep Calm: The New Mum’s Manual by Dr Ellie Cannon (£10.99, Vermilion)

This book by London-based GP and mother-of-two Dr Ellie Cannon was well received by a young mother. She said, ‘This would be the perfect read for a woman waiting to give birth to her first child, as it takes away a lot of the mystery about parenting and offers a simple, intuitive approach. It is not about being a ‘super mum’ and joining in with competitive parenting techniques. It sets out to demystify motherhood, with chapters on everything from coping with sleep deprivation to understanding poo (yes, really!) and vaccinations. It is quite text-heavy, but offers an unpatronising guide to your baby’s first year, which is very calming.’

Health Notes |