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Vitamins: Leave well enough alone!

Published on October 21, 2013 at 14:43 / Updated on May 8, 2018 at 20:52

Is taking a multivitamin beneficial when we’re healthy? Not according to the latest research on the subject.

Is taking a multivitamin beneficial when we’re healthy? Not according to the latest research on the subject.

Many people in the Western World don’t eat as they should and then take a multivitamin in the hope that this will offset any potential vitamin deficiencies. It is estimated that half of all Americans take a dietary supplement or multivitamin, even if they haven’t been given a vitamin deficiency diagnosis. However, it appears that taking vitamins without any medical indication could have slightly harmful effects rather than benefits.

For example, a study has found a slightly increased risk of death in postmenopausal women taking multivitamins or vitamin B6, folic acid, iron, magnesium, zinc, and copper. In addition, contrary to popular belief, no study has shown that vitamin C reduces the risk of cancer or that it can prevent or cure a cold or the flu. Studies have also found that beta-carotene has no positive effect in preventing prostate cancer and heart disease, or in maintaining eye health. Taking beta-carotene supplements was even associated with an increased risk of lung cancer.

A balanced and varied diet is therefore still the best way to get the nutrients essential to our health. Vitamin supplements do not appear to be of any use to most healthy individuals. However, vitamin and mineral supplements remain indicated in cases where a deficiency has been identified or when other medical indications warrant them, such as taking folic acid during pregnancy.

Before buying multivitamins or other supplements for yourself or your children, take the time to ask for your pharmacist’s professional advice.

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