Taking Vitamins? You Probably Shouldn’t Be

“Take your vitamins” has long been a mantra of mothers everywhere. Now, researchers say vitamins and supplements are not only unnecessary, but in some cases may actually be bad for your health. Today more than half of Americans take a multivitamin or supplement of some sort. But five doctors call the benefits of this practice into question in an editorial in the Annals of Internal Medicine. They sum up the results of three different vitamin studies included in the most recent issue of the journal.

In some cases the outcomes have actually been negative rather than neutral. The editorial cites recent studies of beta-carotene that showed an increased risk of death in patients with lung cancer. Similarly with vitamin E, supplements increased participants’ risk of premature death.

Steven Salzberg, a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins, told NPR, “It seems reasonable that if a little bit of something is good for you, then more should be better for you. It’s not true. Supplementation with extra vitamins or micronutrients doesn’t really benefit you if you don’t have a deficiency.”

That’s because most of us today aren’t trying to ward off scurvy. Micronutrient deficiencies were common a century ago, but better nutrition and vitamin-fortified foods mean that most Americans no longer have to worry about rickets or goiters. The editorial does point out a few exceptions. Vitamin D, for example, may help prevent elderly people from falling. According to NPR, Edited from Taking Vitamins?

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