Do you really need all those vitamins and supplements?

Vitamins and Supplements | What Do You Really Need? – Consumer Reports.

Vitamins, minerals, and supplements, which are supposed to strengthen your bones, boost your memory, protect your heart, and help you stay healthy, are popular—more than 50 percent of U.S. adults take these widely sold over-the-counter products.

But evidence shows that excessive vitamin and supplement consumption is unnecessary, and many products could be a waste of money. What’s more, some are potentially harmful.

Tip: @EdzardErnst on Twitter

The article notes the following examples:

A large study of men who took vitamin E every other day and 500 mg of vitamin C daily showed the vitamins didn’t reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events, and vitamin E was linked to an increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke, caused by a burst blood vessel.

A large study of men published last fall in the JAMA, found that high-dose selenium had little effect on prostate-cancer risk. Supplemental vitamin E increased the risk of prostate cancer by 17 percent.

A large long-term study published last fall found that women who took multivitamins, vitamin B6, folic acid, iron, magnesium, zinc, or copper had a slightly higher risk of death than those who did not. The risk was especially pronounced for those who took iron.

Yet, consumers believe that the U.S. FDA has some jurisdiction over supplements – their efficacy, quality and safety.

That’s not the case. The FDA doesn’t generally verify claims made by supplement manufacturers before products reach the market, and federal law doesn’t require dietary supplements to be tested for content, safety, or efficacy.

The article goes on to give sound consumer advice about supplements such as — don’t rely on information from some retailers, don’t substitute pills for a good diet, don’t assume you need vitamins, don’t take more than suggested and tell your doctor what you are taking.

Your doctor can recommend what you need to supplement in your diet based on an individual assessment. It’s NOT a good idea just to purchase a product in a “health food” store because of the promises that are made in advertisements or that you think you need it. Also, remember that while some may be good, more is not necessarily better. What’s the harm? It MAY hurt you.

  1 comment for “Do you really need all those vitamins and supplements?

  1. Stew Green
    May 15, 2012 at 1:20 PM

    - Seems the UK is better protected, if you make a false claim in your advertising & someone complains to the ASA then they’ll prosecute.
    – The consensus medical advice here is that normal people who regularly exercise & eat a balanced diet will get all the vitamins they need from their food. For other people like pregnant women the doctor will advise.
    – The only exception is vitamin D. The Naked Scientists talking about a new UK government report that has come out says people living north of Paris may not be vulnerable to a number of health problems due to not getting enough autumn sun for their body to make & store enough vitamin D through to late winter & early spring, particularly if they avoid sun or have darker skin. And since vitamin D is different from other vitamins in that food sources are quite a poor supply of it & that the overdose limit is extremely high then Vitamin D tablets (Cod liver oil etc.) might be appropriate & are very safe. The Naked Scientists Vitamin D podcast page

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