It is easy to be confused about vitamins. The world of marketing has run wild with vitamin and supplement advertisement, making it easy to feel like you have to take vitamins to be healthy.
All you have to do is watch TV for 5 minutes to see a drug, vitamin, or yogurt ad!
Everyone wants to feel better, have more energy, and look great, and taking a pill can seem like the easy way to get those results. However you might be making yourself sick with supplements and nutritional additives in foods.
In general you do not have to take supplements to be healthy if you are eating and digesting holistic foods properly. It is important to know though that here are special times when supplements may be needed in certain health conditions.
In general you will probably not need supplements if you:
- Eat a diet that is balanced.
- Can digest well.
- Are getting enough sunshine.
- Balance Stress
Super Doses in Supplements are Not Natural
Would you eat 12 oranges in a day? Not likely. Why would your body need that much Vitamin C? It doesn’t. That’s why taking supplements can be a mistake. When you get 1,000mg of Vitamin C in a single pill you load your body with something it was never designed to consume in those amounts.
Instead we were built to eat some fruit and some vegetables and some protein every day. Your body was built to walk and be in the sunshine. Do those things and you are making great strides in giving your body exactly what it needs to function well.
Some Supplements Can Be Dangerous
In the United States supplements like vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants are not controlled like food, standards are lower.
That means products that are sold as healthy or natural can have bad ingredients and make claims that are not always true. Basically companies that make supplements can get away with deceit and poor standards. That means some supplements can make you sick.
Some ingredients that are sold as supplements are dangerous. They can cause serious medication reactions and other deadly health problems.
For example the BBC recently featured an article on how supplements can kill you article. This article highlights the risk of something we all might consider safe, antioxidant supplements.
In the article they describe the story of one of the founding fathers of supplementation, Linus Pauling, who may have died from his recommended dietary supplement, Vitamin C. He was the ultimate believer and user of anti-oxidants.
Pauling’s 1970 book, How To Live Longer and Feel Better, might have actually kicked off the supplement craze. He grew even more famous in 1992, when he appeared on the cover of Time Magazine under the headline: “The Real Power of Vitamins.” In the article vitamins were touted as treatments for everything from cardiovascular diseases to cataracts, to cancer.
While popular media looked at the pills and powders one way, science was seeing a different picture.
Studies Look Bad for Antioxidant Safety
Research gradually grew to prove that supplements can actually make you sicker. According to research studies gathered by the BBC
In 1994, for example, one trial followed the lives of 29,133 Finish people in their 50s. All smoked, but only some were given beta-carotene supplements. Within this group, the incidence of lung cancer increased by 16%.
A similar result was found in postmenopausal women in the U.S. After 10 years of taking folic acid (a variety of B vitamin) every day their risk of breast cancer increased by 20% relative to those women who didn’t take the supplement.
It gets worse. One study of more than 1,000 heavy smokers published in 1996 had to be terminated nearly two years early. After just four years of beta-carotene and vitamin A supplementation, there was a 28% increase in lung cancer rates and a 17% increase in those who died.
In another analysis of research studies 27 separate research studies were analyzed. In 10 of those studies scientists found many patients to be worse after taking antioxidants than without. These studies showed an increased incidence of serious or deadly diseases such as lung and breast cancer.
So How Do I Know What Supplements to Take?
First, look at the ways you can improve your health without supplements.
Remember that vitamins and minerals gotten by pills can be expensive, may not work, and can at times be bad for you.
Always ask your pharmacist about possible drug conflicts with supplements and prescriptions.
Some supplements make surgery more dangerous. Be sure to tell doctors if you are taking something.
Look at a list of dietary product recalls and violations on ConsumerLab.com
Read up on Supplements at the FDA
Look for good science on vitamins and minerals, not what popular media says.