The prevailing wisdom has been that since we do not get enough vitamins from the foods that we eat, we should take regular supplements to remain healthy … or so the manufacturers say.
Supposedly, you can never be sure that you are getting enough vitamins, so as long as you are not exceeding the recommended daily allowance, it can’t hurt to take a bit more. Or can it?
Recently, such “wisdom” has been getting a second opinion, and nutritionists are saying we need to go back to basics—nutrition requirements should mainly be met through diet.
The very word “supplement” means “in addition to” not “in place of.” One of the benefits of a well-balanced diet is that it provides all of the nourishment a body requires, making supplements unnecessary.
Also, given the high cost of manufactured vitamins, it’s often cheaper to buy the fruits, vegetables and other foods that contain the vitamins we need and add them to our regular diet.
For example, vitamin C and beta carotene are readily available in oranges, so instead of taking supplements just eat oranges several times a week.
When the body is receiving sufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals through food, adding more in the form of pills or powders is at the very least wasteful.
Although they do not appear to do any harm in the short term, one recent study showed that a group of adults taking beta-carotene, vitamin A, C, E and selenium supplements did not really gain any advantage over those who did not take the vitamins.
Of greater concern, the study indicated that there may actually be a huge downside to taking vitamins regularly. It was noted that subjects taking vitamin E, A and beta-carotene supplements evidenced higher rates of mortality than the control group.
So vitamin supplements may have little or no effect, or they may be linked to an increased rate of death—not exactly the healthy picture manufacturers would like everyone to see.
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