It must be admitted – Americans love pills. Especially if they – the pills – are supplements the manufacturers of which claim they will benefit you in a number of ways. For decades, we have been told that taking vitamins is necessary, especially in winter. However, a recent research showed the opposite: not only are supplements useless, but they are likely to cause you harm.
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With more than 68% of Americans who are older than 65 years of age taking at least one supplement on a daily basis, and lots of younger people willing to lend their body a helping hand, it is obvious that the dietary supplement industry is flourishing.
However, for the industry players, a crisis may be looming, as the growing body of evidence shows intake of dietary supplements does not benefit health and what’s more, it can increase the risk of heart disease and other conditions.
A bitter pill
Contrary to the widespread assumption, taking supplements does not help you prevent cancer, cardiovascular diseases or whatever else pill manufacturers can promise. The news that what was considered to be body aid is just a way of harming it is a bolt from the blue. Who could have thought millions of patients and doctors could do something wrong, if the scale of supplement consumption is so large?
Having carried out a research, which cost a staggering $2.4 billion, the National Institute of Health disproved the health benefits, which had been assigned to supplements, and reported that the evidence accumulated within the past twenty years suggests they cause harm.
According to the review, there are many studies that show intake of supplements is associated with increased risk for diseases. In 2004, researchers from Copenhagen discovered that taking A, C, E vitamins and beta-carotene can increase the risk of developing intestinal cancer. There were 170,000 people participating in that study. Another 136,000 people were followed to find out what effect taking megavitamins can have; the result is also frustrating: this category of people is more likely to die prematurely. A cohort of 9,000 people took part in a 2005 research, which demonstrated risks for heart disease and cancer increase if vitamin E is taken in large amounts via supplements. A 2011 study that looked at 36,000 men showed intake of vitamin E is associated with a 17% higher risk of getting prostate cancer (in some cases, the vitamin was accompanied by a selenium supplement).
We are used to swallowing everything that promises good results without questions. We fail to remember that whatever compounds the pills you take are made of, they have certain effects. Many people believe there is no such thing as excessive vitamin intake. In case of supplements, it is too much of a good thing.
Except for those with malnutrition or diseases associated with nutrient or vitamin deficiency, consuming extra vitamins or minerals is unnecessary. Even those who follow quite unhealthy diets – a category to which many Americans belong – can get the recommended daily allowance of nutrients from food, and they usually do.
It appears that while we certainly can isolate a particular substance or compound from plants or other food, there is more to it than meets the eye: it seems like there are many elements in a food that make it beneficial, and simply extracting what we consider to be the key chemical is not enough. We do not know how these elements interact, but many researches suggest natural food is a much better source of nutrients than supplements.
A recently published research showed that the only supplement that one might consider taking is vitamin D. However, consulting a doctor that does their best to keep up with new studies is advice that should not be neglected.
The Supplement Paradox: Negligible Benefits, Robust Consumption – Jamanetwork.com
Omega Fish oils don’t improve school children’s reading skills or memory, study finds – Birmingham.ac.uk