Every where you turn in the media (and supermarket) you are being sold on the latest and greatest nutrient and supplement. Vitamin and Mineral sales are though the roof (+$20 billion per year) and all those companies want your money.
But do vitamins even work?
Think about it for a second. You probably take a multivitamin everyday (or almost every day). How to you know it is working? Maybe you take a specific vitamin or mineral each day – Vitamin C, Beta-Carotene, Vitamin B-6. Why do you take these? How do you know that they are working?
These are questions that many people don’t ask or don’t care to; they just blindly take their vitamins because the bottle says “aids in healthy energy metabolism”. It is important to realize that most ‘claims’ on vitamin bottles are based on biochemical pathways and not studies done in humans. For example, particular vitamins are needed for your body to turn glucose into energy. Once you have adequate amounts of these vitamins MORE doesn’t make your body better at converting glucose to energy – they don’t tell you this on the label.
Supplementing with individual vitamins usually doesn’t do anything. In fact one study showed that beta-carotene supplementation negatively impacted the health of smokers (yes, taking the supplement decreased their health). Let’s look at another vitamin – the coveted vitamin E. If you look at the results from 19 different trials you’d see that daily high dose vitamin E supplementation (>400 I.U. which is normally 2 capsules) for a year or more led to an increase in mortality!
In 1998, the US government added folic acid to the ‘fortification list’ in order to help prevent neural tube defects (neural tube defects can be caused when a pregnant mother has a folic acid deficiency). The good news is that the incidence of neural tube defects has decreased by as much as 50%. The bad news is that this increase in folic acid consumption may be leading to increased and accelerated dementia in the elderly (due to undiagnosed vitamin B12 deficiency which is hidden by excessive folic acid intakes).
The lax regulations of the Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act have allowed for many unscrupulous companies to have a field day producing garbage supplement and vitamin blends while putting ridiculous claims on labels that hide behind “This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease”? disclaimer.
When taking vitamins, minerals, or any other dietary supplement it is important to do your research. Know that the supplement industry is not well regulated. Only do business with quality and reputable companies. And most of all use supplements to ‘supplement’ your intake. No one got sicker by eating too much spinach.
For more truth on dietary supplements just go to http://www.strongfitandhealthy.com and I’ll ship you (for free) the dvd “The Truth About Dietary Supplements” (you just need to cover $4.95 S&H – pretty good deal huh?).