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.