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Are Vitamin Supplements Good For You?

Are Vitamin Supplements Good For You?

The word on the street is that vitamins might not be doing you so much good after all, at least when it comes to vitamin supplements.

Last December the Annals of Internal Medicine published several studies which concluded that multivitamin supplements don’t do the public a whole lot of good, and a new study recently in The Journal of Physiology showed that vitamin supplement intake could actually be harming athletes. It has even been written that excess vitamins may be a risk factor for diabetes, at least when it comes to serving formula that’s power-packed with vitamins to babies.

In response to the December findings, the Annals of Internal Medicine published an editorial titled “Enough Is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements,” writing “Despite sobering evidence of no benefit or possible harm, use of multivitamin supplements increased among U.S. adults from 30% between 1988 to 1994 to 39% between 2003 to 2006, while overall use of dietary supplements increased from 42% to 53%.”

That use of supplements accounted for about $30 billion spent on vitamins and minerals in the United States in 2011.

We know that we need vitamins to live, which makes it not so shocking that many companies have bottled them up and made them easy for consumption, but where do these vitamins come from in the first place? Our food.

Several studies have shown that multivitamins do nothing to prevent heart attacks or cancer, whereas eating more fruit and vegetables has a wide variety of benefits. Leafy greens and pears may reduce your risk for a stroke and root vegetables may be beneficial for the prevention of type 2 diabetes.

Some vitamin supplements are still recommended by experts, like folic acid and Vitamin D, but ultimately, experts are telling us that supplements aren’t really doing us so much good after all.

So why are we still taking them? It’s partly a question of money and big industry.

Fruits and vegetables contain so many vitamins and we need them to survive, so nutrition marketing has told us that we can get them in different forms. While at the outset getting people to have a diet higher in vitamins and minerals may have seemed like a good thing, ultimately it has become more of a question of marketing than nutrition. When even Girl Scout Cookies are being marketed as healthy, you know something has gone wrong. In fact, it has been shown that when foods are marketed as healthier, which means they often have vitamins added to them, it leads to bigger profits. Vitamins make good business sense.

Vitamins are good for you, yes. But if you think you can stick to an unhealthy diet and just keep yourself going thanks to pills, you can forget it. If you have a well-balanced diet, you may be getting all the vitamins you need. So kick the pill and go for the fruits and vegetables instead.

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Photo Credit: stevendepolo

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97 comments

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8:56PM PDT on Apr 13, 2014

This is a thorny issue.

Point One: We are evolved to extract vitamins and other goodies from naturally occurring molecules (molecules found in food sources in nature). When some companies make supplements, those same vitamins and other goodies are in molecular compounds that our body is not evolved to extract the vitamins, etc from. Thus we take those supplements and our bodies do not derive all the expected benefits. However, this is not true of the supplements from all companies. There are those supplements which have vitamins in similar molecular compounds that the body can successfully extract vitamins etc from.

Point Two: There are many over farmed soils which are nutritionally depleted leading to nutritionally depleted crops as well as farmed cattle that are eating foods not normally eaten by that cattle such as grain fed chickens. Taking those chickens as an example, I found out that chickens that ate grass had omega 3 and low fat. Grain fed chickens have little omega 3 and are very fatty. Because of nutritionally depleted soils and dietary and hormone altered cattle, consumers are missing out on important nutrition in their diets. Ideally we should be able to extract the nutrition we need from the food that we eat, but this is not always the case.

Point Three: Economically disadvantaged people are not able to buy high quality food, and in many cases can only afford low quality food which is high in fats and sugars and low in nutritional densit

1:39AM PDT on Apr 8, 2014

Thank you.

4:04AM PDT on Mar 9, 2014

@ Jennifer H. Look up Codex Alimentarius. The official site is confusing but a bit of research will show you exactly what you stated and more. Vitamin and herbal supplements are not available in Europe unless by prescription and in very low ineffective amounts, and high prices.
ie: Vitamin C has an RDA (recommended daily allowance) in the US of 60 mg. Under codex it is 45.Who does that benefit. In the US we have approximately 7% of the population showing signs of scurvy. Vitamin C is the only thing that prevents/cures it.
We do not want Codex or any other law that restricts access to supplements. Congressmen Blumenthal and Dirkin keep attempting to insert new regulations into various bills that would override the 1994 DHSEA which defined vitamins as 'FOOD'. They are attempting to bring in Codex via the back door route.

8:08PM PST on Mar 8, 2014

I wonder if part of the anti-supplement is pushed by big pharma who is trying to gain control over supplements to keep them from being OTC products.

9:10AM PST on Mar 6, 2014

Thank you.

1:05AM PST on Mar 6, 2014

thank you

12:51AM PST on Mar 6, 2014

Thank you :)

11:43AM PST on Mar 5, 2014

If you are sick, you may require supplements to help you get through it. I am borderline anaemic a lot of the time due to a medical condition. No amount of iron rich fruit and veg will be able to make up for this at times. I hate taking the tablets given by the Doc but sometimes I have no choice.
I prefer a liquid supplement. It is less likely to just pass out of my system like a pill might.

7:29AM PST on Mar 5, 2014

B12 is a good supplement to take as it needs to be replenished daily and if your not getting from your diet due to medical reasons it can be helpful.

7:17AM PST on Mar 5, 2014

In my 60s, my D3 has gone down.....but I've been taking mega doses for 2 years and it hasn't improved a bit.
Why, you ask?
Perhaps it just proves that supplements are not properly assimilated by our bodies. Go for the natural option and get your nutrients from your food.

All supplements do is give you very expensive urine.

When I took CoQ10 because I heard so much good about it, I ended up in the CCU because I was having such severe pvc's that my doctor and the cardiologist had never seen so many!
It turned out to be caused by the coQ10 and nearly killed me.

I eat a nutritionally balanced diet now and hope for the best.

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