jury is still out on the usefulness of vitamins and supplements.
A report published in mid-2013 on the JAMA Internal Medicine journal website (http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1568520) concludes that most people take supplements
because the action makes the individual feel healthier, not because the science
supports taking supplements.
In fact, according to a WebMD article, most doctors and nutritionists would
recommend spending the $20 a month (that would be spent on supplements) on eating
a better diet.
Vitamins can be an "Insurance Policy.”
According to the Harvard School of Public
vitamins may help to supplement a diet that is missing some essential
nutrition, but vitamins and supplements are not a replacement for a healthy
diet. If individuals choose to take a vitamin, they should take a
multi-vitamin and stay away from "megas” that offer more than the daily
allowance of nutrients, because too much of something can also be harmful. The
Harvard site also points to research specifically around Vitamin D supplements
as a positive addition to a diet, because most individuals do not get enough
vitamin D naturally.
It is important to note that another article from JAMA directly
contradicts Harvard’s recommendation of a multi-vitamin. A study published in
points to increases in certain types of cancer and nerve damage directly
related to supplement use and too much of certain nutrients.
most vitamins are not regulated, is there a source to know which may be safer?
The U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) is
attempting to add some regulation to the unregulated supplement market. Products
that meet program requirements are awarded the USP Verified Mark
for use on labels, packaging, and promotional
materials. The USP Verified Mark is meant to signify a product:
- contains the
ingredients listed on the label, in the declared potency and amounts.
- does not contain harmful levels of specified contaminants.
- will break down and release into the body within a specified
amount of time.
- has been made according to FDA
current Good Manufacturing Practices using sanitary and well-controlled
Does all of this
If so, you are not alone. The bottom line
remains that there is no substitute or supplement for a healthy diet. Talk with
your medical provider about your diet and about any supplements you are taking or considering taking.