People are accustomed to nutritional advice that includes: eat your veggies, exercise every day, and of course, take your vitamins. But that may be change, as years of research has failed to yield persuasive evidence that supplemental vitamins have positive health benefits.
In actuality, recent studies indicate that some vitamins may be bad for you. Some have been implicated in an increase in certain cancers, while others have been linked to elevated risk of kidney stones. Despite these concerns, however, Americans continue to consume supplements.
A recent article in Science Alert offers guidelines as to which supplements you should take, and which to avoid:
Multivitamins: Don’t bother; everything you need is present in a balanced diet.
For years, it was thought multivitamins were important to overall health. Vitamin C was believed to “boost your immune system”, Vitamin A to guard your vision, Vitamin B to provide energy.
Now experts say these ingredients are all present in the foods you eat, and studies warn against taking them in excess. A 2011 study of almost 39,000 over 25 found that those who took vitamins over time had a higher overall risk of death than those who did not.
Vitamin D: Do take it – it strengthens your bones and helps you absorb calcium, and it hard to get from food. Sunlight provides some, but the study showed people who take Vitamin D supplements every day live longer.
Antioxidants: Don’t take them – eat berries instead. Too many can actually be harmful and may increase the risk of cancer.
Vitamin C: Skip it – eat citrus fruit instead. Studies show megadoses can raise your risk of kidney stones.
Vitamin B3: Skip it – instead, eat salmon, tuna or beets. One study of more than 25,000 people with heart disease found the nutrient failed to reduce the risk of heart attacks.
Probiotics: Don’t bother – we don’t know enough about them yet, and you can eat yogurt instead.
Zinc: Do take it – it’s one of the few nutrients that will shorten a cold.
Vitamin E: Skip it – too much vitamin E has been implicated in increased risk of some cancers. Eat spinach instead.
Folic acid: Take it if you are pregnant, or want to become pregnant. Folic acid protects against spinal cord deformities.