NBC News – In our quest to stay healthy and live well, Americans exercise, eat right, see our doctors and take more than $25 billion worth of vitamins and supplements every year. But some research shows that downing these pills and powders isn’t really making us healthier.
A 2013 editorial in the Annals of Internal Medicine says daily multivitamins don’t prevent chronic disease or death, and their use can’t be justified — unless a person is below science-based requirement levels.
But there’s a disconnect between what science shows and what people actually do when it comes to improving health.
“In a perfect world, we would all eat a variety of fruits and vegetables and we would all exercise regularly, but that’s not reality,” says TODAY health and nutrition editor Madelyn Fernstrom, professor of Psychiatry, Epidemiology and Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “People can be strapped for time or money and don’t meet their daily nutrient needs. And you also have to remember that many studies look at large population groups, rather than individuals.”
That means that some people may benefit from a little supplementation, simply to bring them up to the daily recommended requirements for certain vitamins and minerals, says Fernstrom.
To help you sort through the morass, the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements provides fact sheets of the latest information on a wealth of individual vitamins, minerals and dietary supplements.
Many people want to take some kind of supplement, so which vitamins are OK to take regularly? Which should we avoid?
Here’s a quick run-down of a few that might help. By no means is this list conclusive, just a heads up.
Remember, when choosing a supplement, look for seals of approval from the United States Pharmacopoeia (USP), NSF International (NSF), or ConsumerLab.com (CL), to help validate purity.