A lack of vitamin D, which we mostly get from the sun, can lead to bone deformities such as rickets in children, and bone pain caused by a condition called osteomalacia in adults.
A consultant paediatrician, Dr Benjamin Jacobsat of the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, said: "A hundred years ago most children in London had rickets. That was basically abolished by the practice of giving children a vitamin supplement."
An injection of vitamin K is also offered to babies within the first 24 hours of their life to prevent a rare but serious blood disorder.
Dr. Jacobs said supplements are also important for people with either restricted diets or allergies.
For example, the NHS says that most people do not need to take other vitamin supplements and can get all the vitamins and minerals they need, apart from vitamin D, from a balanced diet.
The benefits of fish oil pills, a supplement linked to a wide range of purported benefits, from improved heart health to boosted brain power, are also not conclusive.
A recent review of scientific trials found the evidence that fish oil pills protect the heart was flimsy at best.
Sam Jennings, a director of Berry Ottaway & Associates Ltd, a consultancy that works with supplement manufacturers, said nutrition was a "constantly evolving science, there is always new data emerging".
She added: "What has become clear is that with supplements the benefits aren't always going to be obvious in all people, because it's going to depend on that individual's own make-up as to whether they will receive benefit from having an extra nutrient of some kind."
Dr. Carter said his own advice would be for people to look at what kind of scientific evidence there was in support of a particular supplement before taking it and check whether there are any warnings.
Tips for taking supplements
.Buy supplements from reputable suppliers - they should have gone through rigorous quality assurance
.Check if they have been tested in clinical trials with a cohort of people that is similar to them (comparable age, sex)
.Look for warnings - for example, people with heart conditions would want to check the supplement is not toxic for the heart
.Be cautious about taking multiple supplements at the same time
.Stick within recommended doses.
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