Should I be taking vitamins? This is suddenly a worthy question. Vitamins have long been thought to have great health benefits. At the worst, they had no effect at all. However, 2 recent studies showed that some vitamins are not only ineffective but may be harmful to our health. In fact, these studies also showed that some vitamins may even shorten our lives. So, should I be taking vitamins? Hmmm, well, the answer is not cut and dry.
First of all, these studies are only 2 studies and involve different vitamins. One of these studies involved men taking a synthetic form of Vitamin E called dl-alpha tocopheryl acetate. The reason the study was done was to see if it helped to prevent prostate cancer. The effect was just the opposite. The study concluded that men who take 400 units (a large dose) of synthetic Vitamin E have a 17% greater chance getting prostate cancer than those who do not take Vitamin E.
The second study involved 40,000 older women. The study concluded that older women who take supplements have a 11% increased risk of death. The study included supplements such as multivitamins, vitamin B6, folic acid, magnesium, zinc, copper, and most prominently iron. This study actually included 15 supplements, the supplements listed above were found to be harmful. Only Calcium showed a lower risk of death and a higher nutritional benefits. The limited results from these studies really need to be verified further. Personally, I do not trust the accuracy of these studies completely. Don’t get me wrong. They are worth a look. I just want more information.
So what does this all mean? Should I be taking vitamins? I know you are asking this question. I wish I could answer it for you. However, let me say this. There are some cases where some vitamins or supplements have shown great efficacy. For example, fish oil has been proven to have an excellent impact on lowering bad cholesterol and raising good cholesterol. If you have a cholesterol problem, this is a good supplement for you to take with your doctor’s recommendation. Further, some people, particularly our elderly folks, have poor vitamin B12 levels. In this case a vitamin B12 supplement might be appropriate. In addition, women who suffer from osteoporosis may benefit from a calcium and vitamin D supplement.
So, I do believe in the use of dietary supplements in many cases. It is, of course, always best to meet your dietary needs through a healthy balanced diet. I do think these studies show that we do not know what the full impact of vitamins are in the long run. I have to acknowledge that there could be some significant side effects with vitamins and supplements.
Therefore, I do not believe in taking supplements just for the sake of taking them. Each supplement should be discussed with your physician and be part of a planned medication regime that is managed by your doctor. Then ,and only then, can you answer the question, “should I be taking vitamins?”, with a resounding YES!
What do you think? I would love to read your comments!