The Truth About Vitamins

Some supplements may be more harmful than helpful.
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The Truth About Vitamins

Some supplements may be more harmful than helpful.

-Carol Kramer


Vitamins. Just say the word and you feel healthier already, right? Millions of Americans believe in the power of vitamins to both prevent and treat disease; in fact, half the adult population of this country is currently taking a nutritional supplement. There’s nothing you can swallow that will help you pay your mortgage or increase your 401 (k), but a few vitamins a day just might keep the doctor and the health-care crisis away.

Last April the New York Times reported that sales of vitamin and nutritional supplements (herbs, minerals, meal replacement products, sports nutrition products and specialty supplements) had risen 20 percent in the first quarter of 2009, going up as fast as the economy was spiraling down. And that’s on top of the staggering $25 billion Americans spent on vitamins in all of 2008.

Unfortunately, the evidence is beginning to show that a lot of that money might be wasted. In the last decade, medical researchers have conducted a large number of studies on the effect that vitamins, both individuals and multis, have on health. Their conclusions, so far: Get your nutrients from food, not from chalky little pills.

In one of the most recent studies, researchers tracked the health of 162,000 postmenopausal women enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative, an ongoing examination of diet and health patterns. Analyzing eight years of health records for each woman, the researchers found that the women taking a daily multivitamin were no healthier than women who didn’t take supplements. Their rate of cancer and heart disease was remarkably like that of the women who didn’t take a multivitamin.

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“We were surprised,” says Marian Neuhouser, Ph. D., an associate member of the Public Health Sciences division of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research center in Seattle. “There were some earlier findings indicating that vitamins might lower the risk of heart disease and cancer. But we found that multivitamins don’t reduce the risk of the most common cancers and have no impact on heart disease or total mortality.”

In 2006, a panel of experts brought together by the federal National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that there was “no strong evidence of beneficial health-related effects of supplements taken singly, in pairs or combinations.”

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0 thoughts on “The Truth About Vitamins

  1. This article, its title, and the content are misleading and poorly researched. Fruits and vegetables, even organic, in the U.S. contain approx. one half of the vitamin/mineral/antioxidant content than these foods did in the 1950s so it is almost impossible to obtain all the nutrients we need from food alone. Further, the environment is much more toxic and it takes vitamins and minerals for the body (liver, kidneys, etc.) to detoxify these environmental toxins. Even further, recent metastudies ( studies evaluating large amounts of smaller studies) show that it is essential to take antioxidants along with chemotherapy. This article looks like it could be written by a representative of the pharmaceutical industry who seem to go to extreme lengths to falsely discredit vitamins and minerals so they can sell more drugs. Don’t believe this article. And to call this The Truth About Vitamins…shame on you!

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