Are You Wasting Time, Money and Energy on Vitamin Supplements?

I get the Reader’s Digest magazine every month. It makes for interesting reading on topics of interest when it comes to life and health. Not too long ago, I remember reading about vitamins in the Reader’s Digest, and how they might not be all that they’re cracked up to be. Indeed, some vitamins are a waste of time and money to take, while others might even be dangerous to your health — especially if you don’t know how to take them.

Personally, I’m not a big fan of vitamin supplements. I don’t take supplements with any regularity, instead relying on what I hope is a reasonably balanced diet to ensure that I get what I need. When I do take something, it is usually a calcium supplement meant to help me prevent bone loss (that scourge of women over the age of 30).

Do You Really Need Vitamin Supplements?

Clearly, we are healthier when we get the nutrients that we need. For years, we have been led to believe that vitamin supplements are a way to make up for poor eating habits. They’ve been a sort of catch-all for diets that are lacking in some areas. However, vitamin supplements may not actually be doing anything for you. Some of the vitamins that may not be as helpful as advertised, including Vitamin C, which some studies find does little to stave off colds in most people (a few people saw good results).

The bottom line is that vitamin supplements probably aren’t necessary. Instead of taking them on your own, consider this advice from the Reader’s Digest article:

“Unless your doctor says you need supplements for a specific diagnosis, there is no reason to take them and no need to spend the money,” says the review’s senior author, Christian Gluud, MD, of Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark.

You should also consider dosage. Just because something is sold over the counter, doesn’t make it safe. In fact, you might be in trouble if you take large doses of Vitamin A or Vitamin E. Even Selenium can cause problems if taken in high doses, making you unhealthy. The worst case scenario on most supplements is that they don’t actually do anything, and you are wasting your time and money. Worst case scenario is that you actually make your health worse.

Are Any Supplements Worthwhile?

The article identifies Vitamin D is a potentially helpful supplement, since it helps your body absorb calcium. If you don’t get enough sun (usually 15 minutes a day is enough), then the supplement can be helpful, since it will help your body better accept the calcium you intake. Other than that, unless you need something for a specific deficiency, there isn’t much reason to buy a supplement.

Take Medical Advice with a Grain of Salt

Of course, you do need to take any sort of medical advice with a grain of salt. Realize that many studies come out every year, “proving” any number of points and make a number of claims about your health. We still don’t know everything about how the body uses nutrients, and what vitamin supplements can do. When in doubt, your best bet is to eat a balanced diet, and make sure you get adequate exercise and sleep. Follow the fundamentals of healthy living, and you are likely to get what you need, without vitamin supplements.

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