The US Preventative Task Force updated their recent recommendations about vitamins and supplements in The Journal of the American Medical Association - reference here.
Their conclusion was: "Conclusions and Relevance Vitamin and mineral supplementation was associated with little or no benefit in preventing cancer, cardiovascular disease, and death, with the exception of a small benefit for cancer incidence with multivitamin use. Beta carotene was associated with an increased risk of lung cancer and other harmful outcomes in persons at high risk of lung cancer."
We have published about how misleading labels of supplements are before - click here.
The appeal of vitamins and supplements is the ability to extract the vital chemicals (like vital amines) antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory ingredients, place them into a pill so you can avoid having a healthy diet. Trust me, a healthy diet is clinically proven to work but it is a lot easier to eat a burger and pop a pill than to remember to eat some vegetables (I like Habit Burger).
[caption id="attachment_9745" align="aligncenter" width="640"]V Yes, I do love a good burger - Habit is my favorite[/caption]
But let's go back in history for a second and let you know that surgeons love vitamins. If you haven't listened to one of my favorite stories- listen to this about the first vitamin - click here. And let us not forget that the first evidence based study in the history showed that citrus fruits prevented scurvy - who was that person that showed that - was it a "nutritionist" or was it a surgeon? Oh yes, it was Dr. James Lind - a surgeon.
Why the appeal of vitamins, besides my fantasy about eating burgers and popping a pill?
First there is the "natural" fallacy - I don't know, I think natural is more eating fruits and vegetables than pills. People tend to think of vitamins as "good" or healthy, and they are. They seem to think of a vitamin as "natural" even though they were brought to us from the golden age of biochemistry. It is clear that the vitamin and supplement companies have taken advantage of that and use terms like "support gut health" or "support immune function" or "good for cardiovascular health, " - even if those statements are meaningless.
Second, it is easier to think of things we believe we understand. Heart disease and cancer are complex topics (not that the true chemistry of vitamins aren't but they seem easy). We want to make things easy - like take vitamins and supplements for prevention or cure of cancer or heart disease, because if we start talking about scary statins or chemotherapy not only are there real side-effects but bad press. Of course with vitamins and supplements there can be real side effects - check here. My aunt's son, a Ph.D. in nuclear physics, died after taking a supplement that was to help him be "fit."
But the simple truth is this: however the polychemistry there is in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, as well as balancing dairy, meats, fats and alcohol has proven effect - we call that the Mediterranean Diet (for more see here)
[caption id="attachment_9746" align="aligncenter" width="640"]i Instead of vitamins and supplements from a pill - eat this[/caption]
For whatever reason, eating a Mediterranean Diet or DASH diet continue to be the proven way to maintain your health.
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