Vitamins and minerals are important nutrients needed by the body to stay healthy and function properly. Generally, we can get these by eating a healthy balanced diet.

However, it might not always be possible to get the nutrients we need this way. Therefore, many people rely on daily supplements.

Now an expert has said that a certain supplement taken every day can slash your risk of dementia, among other health benefits.

Speaking on his BBC podcast, Just One Thing, Dr Michael Mosley recommended a pill that can cost as little as 3p a day.

In his latest episode he shared the benefits of vitamin D. Michael revealed how taking a daily vitamin D supplement could help boost your immune system while helping your brain to prevent depression and to ward off dementia.

He said: “I don’t usually recommend supplements, but I do make an exception for this one. It’s vitamin D.

“It is essential for healthy bones and a properly functioning immune system.”

Our main source of vitamin D is sunlight, which means in the UK we can be at risk of not getting enough during the autumn and winter months.

“Unfortunately, at this time of year in the UK, many of us are deficient in vitamin D, and that’s because it just simply isn’t bright enough out there to generate vitamin D in our skin,” Dr Mosley said.

His advice was backed by a 2023 medical study, published in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia: Translational Research and Clinical Interventions.

More than 12,000 people took part in the research which looked at the link between vitamin D levels and Alzheimer’s.

It found that exposure to vitamin D was associated with 40 percent lower incidence of dementia.

And this was “significantly greater” among women than men.

The study said: “Vitamin D has potential for dementia prevention, especially in the high-risk strata.”

Separate research, published in Neurology journal in 2014, came to a similar conclusion.

“Our results confirm that vitamin D deficiency is associated with a substantially increased risk of all-cause dementia and Alzheimer disease,” it said.

“This adds to the ongoing debate about the role of vitamin D in non skeletal conditions.”

His advice comes as rates of dementia are continuing to rise in the UK.

In September 2023, 475,573 people were diagnosed with dementia – up more than 52,000 from the same time last year,

NHS advice is that everyone should consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement during the autumn and winter. They can be bought for less than 3p a pill.

Holland & Barrett sells a bottle of 90 vitamin D tablets for £2.49. Asda sells 60 for £1.50.

Other sources of vitamin D include:

  • Oily fish – such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel
  • Red meat
  • Liver
  • Egg yolks
  • Fortified foods – such as some fat spreads and breakfast cereals.
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