So, how’s your vitamin C level at the moment? Is it a bit low? It seems Brits have discovered that rather than popping another pill, they can get their energy from their food.

So, rather than taking a vitamin C tablet, they can eat something called an orange instead.

It’s not been a good development for the vitamins and supplements industry, or so says Mintel.

Apparently there’s more than one type of orange. Not only is there the mobile phone Orange, there’s this round thing by that name too.

Then, in addition to the computer company, there’s another round thing, this time called an apple.

Anyway, according to Mintel: “The UK’s £396 million vitamins and supplements market is set to be a victim of its own nutrition agenda.” It seems improved education on diet and nutrition has backfired on the industry.

Mintel says: “The number of Brits popping supplements has been in steady decline since 2007, with the total number of users falling from 43 per cent in 2006 to 41 per cent in 2008. Meanwhile, the number of vitamin fanatics (those taking supplements once a day or more) has declined from 34 per cent to 32 per cent over the same two-year period.”

Almost four in ten (38 per cent) of adults prefer to get their vitamins and minerals from their diet than from supplements. This compares to just one in four (25 per cent) in 2005.

And would you believe this one. Almost half (46 per cent ) stick to the 5-a-day rule. So that’s no kicking the football over head height, and no scoring from inside the penalty area (sorry, got mixed up with the 5-a-side rule then).

According to Alexandra Richmond, Senior Health & Beauty Analyst at Mintel: “As people eat more healthily, they do not feel that they need to take additional vitamins and minerals from supplements.” She added: “A shift towards stripping chemicals such as fertilisers and e-numbers out of the diet may well also be putting pressure on the vitamins and supplements market owing to the unnatural tablet or capsule format of many supplements. As a result the preference for natural sources of vitamins and minerals such as fruit, vegetables and dairy products is strong among many adults.”

Mind you, it is not all bad for the industry. Apparently dietary supplements have benefited from the focus on age-related concerns, notably glucosamine for joint care and omega-3 for brain function, which is masking a decline in sales of other supplements. So, for all those readers who had to give up playing 5-a-side because of their dodgy knees, glucosamine is all the rage.

Ms Richmond added: “The vitamins & supplements market will struggle to achieve overall growth over the next few years as the number of users continues to diminish. Educating people about the benefits of supplements over normal food will be instrumental in capturing the growth potential here. Given the current economic situation, paralleling the cost of vitamins and supplements with the cost of buying enough food to ensure that daily allowance guidelines are met, could help to generate sales for the sector, particularly amongst those people who are finding their budgets squeezed.”

But one might conclude as follows. For the vitamins & supplements market, the future is not orange.

© Investment & Business News 2013