It seems like simple, obvious advice: Eat your vegetables, get some exercise, and — of course — take your vitamins.
Decades of research has failed to find any substantial evidence that vitamins and supplements do any significant good. In fact, recent studies skew in the opposite direction, having found that certain vitamins may be bad for you. Several have been linked with an increase in certain cancers, for example, while others have been tied to a rise in the risk of kidney stones.
And a large new study out Wednesday suggests that despite this growing knowledge, Americans’ pill-popping habits have stayed basically the same over the last decade.
So here are the vitamins and supplements you should take — and the ones you should avoid:
Multivitamins: Skip them — you get everything you need with a balanced diet.
For decades, people thought that multivitamins were critical to overall health. Vitamin C to “boost your immune system,” Vitamin A to protect your vision, Vitamin B to keep you energized.
Not only do you already get these ingredients from the food you eat, but studies suggest that consuming them in excess can actually cause harm. A large 2011 study of close to 39,000 older women over 25 years found that women who took them in the long term actually had a higher overall risk of death than those who did not.
Vitamin D: Take it — It helps keep your bones strong and it’s hard to get from food.
Vitamin D isn’t present in most of the foods we eat, but it’s a critical ingredient that keeps our bones strong by helping us absorb calcium. Getting sunlight helps our bodies produce it as well, but it can be tough to get enough in the winter. Several recent study reviews have found that people who took Vitamin D supplements daily lived longer, on average, than those who didn’t.
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