These vitamins are a ‘waste of money’, says new report – Eat This Not That

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New guidelines from the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) reinforces what many medical professionals have been saying for years – with a few notable exceptions, vitamins and supplements are a waste of money for most Americans. “Patients ask all the time, ‘What supplements should I take?’ They waste money and get carried away thinking there must be some magic set of pills that will keep them healthy when we should all be following the evidence-based practices of healthy eating and exercising “, says Jeffrey Linder, MD, MPH, chief of general internal medicine in the Department of Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicinewho co-wrote an editorial supporting the guidelines. Read on and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure signs you’ve already had COVID.

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The USPSTF says there is “insufficient evidence” that cardiovascular disease and cancer can be prevented by taking multivitamins and paired supplements. “The task force doesn’t say ‘don’t take multivitamins,’ but there’s this idea that if they were really good for you, we would know by now,” Linder says.

“The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines suggest that nutrient needs should be met primarily from foods and beverages, especially nutrient-dense foods and beverages,” says the USPSTF.

pregnant african american woman drinking green vegetable juice or smoothie at home
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The new guidelines do not apply to pregnant women or anyone trying to get pregnant. “Pregnant women should keep in mind that these guidelines do not apply to them,” says editorial co-writer Natalie Cameron, MD. “Certain vitamins, such as folic acid, are essential for pregnant women to support healthy fetal development. The most common way to meet these needs is to take a prenatal vitamin. More data is needed to understand how supplementation with specific vitamins may alter the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes and cardiovascular complications during pregnancy.

A close up image of an open pack of cigarettes.
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“For many of the vitamins and nutrients examined, there was little evidence of serious harm. However, significant harm related to increased incidence of lung cancer has been reported with the use of beta-carotene by people who smoke tobacco or are occupationally exposed to asbestos” says the USPSTF.

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The task force warns of the danger of overdosing many common vitamins. “Excessive doses of vitamin supplements can cause several known adverse effects; for example, moderate doses of vitamin A supplements can reduce bone mineral density, and high doses can be hepatotoxic or teratogenic,” says the USPSTF. “Vitamin D has potential harmful effects, such as a risk of hypercalcemia and kidney stones, when given in high doses. The potential for harm from other high-dose supplements should be carefully considered. “

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According to doctors, the most effective way to get nutrients is through food. “The idea is that taking these pills can somehow improve your health or protect you from disease,” says Dr. Pieter Cohen, associate professor at Harvard Medical School and general internist at the Harvard-affiliated Cambridge Health Alliance. “While some people may need specific vitamins or supplements to make up for deficiencies, for the average healthy person, following a diet high in fruits and vegetables provides all of the essential vitamins and minerals.”

Mast Ferozan

Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer passionate about making science and research-based information accessible to the general public. Read more

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