If you feel like you’re missing something important if you don’t take your chewable over-the-counter—OTC—vitamins, maybe you should reconsider. Are OTC vitamins really that beneficial or have you been bamboozled by years manufacturers propaganda. Can OTC vitamins be dangerous? Did you know that every year Americans spend approximately $12 million on vitamin and mineral supplements? It’s big business, but are there good reasons for taking OTC vitamins?
Recent studies show those supplements may not help.
John Hopkins focused on three recent studies that found that supplements weren’t that beneficial. These were large studies with the largest including 450K people. It noted that daily multivitamins did not reduce the risk for the potential for heart disease or cancer. Another study found the same after studying a smaller group. The third study looked at whether multi-vitamins reduced the potential for mental decline or memory loss. After studying 5947 people for 12-years, the answer was no.
Some supplements may cause more problems than they help.
Most of the problem occurs when people take high doses of specific vitamins, such as the vitamin A predecessor beta-carotene or vitamins C or E. Studies show that people who smoke increase the risk of lung cancer if they take beta-carotene. High doses of vitamin E can also increase the risk of strokes. If you’ve ever taken too much vitamin C, you’ll understand that an excess can cause stomach problems or diarrhea. If you’re a senior, you may want to avoid calcium supplements and opt for weight bearing exercise instead. Studies show that supplementing calcium may cause it to build up in the artery walls.
Many OTC vitamins aren’t bioavailable.
No matter how many multi-vitamins you take, if your body can’t process them or absorb the nutrients, they’re useless. Just because the pill contains a specific amount of the nutrient, it doesn’t mean that it’s what will ultimately end up in your body. There are several factors that determine that. If it doesn’t dissolve or degrade in a timely fashion, you’ll find the vitamin in your waste. The type of inert materials, inhibitors and the nutrient form also makes a difference. The drugs you take, when you take the vitamin and your body’s needs also play a role. If you take more vitamin C than you need, you’ll end up with it in your urine, which is costly.
- Focusing on a healthy diet is the most important change you can make. Many nutrients aren’t vitamins or minerals, but phytonutrients that work in synergy with them to provide the more robust benefits. Anthocyanin, the phytonutrient that makes blueberries blue, is one example.
- Unless you spend a significant amount on the vitamin and do thorough research, you may be getting a form of the vitamin that isn’t bioavailable, meaning your body can’t break it down, absorb it or use it.
- Not all vitamins are bad for all people. Most people don’t get adequate sun, so they lack vitamin D, which is difficult to get unless you eat fortified food.
- Popping a vitamin may give you a false sense of security, which can lead to a poor diet and eating habits. Focus more on eating healthy and save your money for healthier options for your dinner table.
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