Did doctor Sheldon Copper have a point with Penny in the supermarket. Did she need some Manganes for that very expensive urine…
It seems like simple, obvious advice: Eat your vegetables, get some exercise, and — of course — take your vitamins.
Decades of research have failed to find any substantial evidence that vitamins and supplements do any significant good. In fact, recent studies skew in the opposite direction, having found that certain vitamins may be bad for you. Several have been linked with an increase in certain cancers, for example, while others have been tied to a rise in the risk of kidney stones.
And a large new study released previously suggested that, despite this growing knowledge, pill-popping habits have stayed basically the same over the last decade.
Here are the vitamins and supplements you should probably take — and the ones you could probably do without:
Multivitamins: Skip them — you get everything you need with a balanced diet.
For decades, it was assumed that multivitamins were critical to overall health. Vitamin C to boost your immune system, vitamin A to protect your vision, vitamin B to keep you energized.
Not only do you already get these ingredients from the food you eat, but studies suggest that consuming them in excess can actually cause harm. A large 2011 study of close to 39,000 older women — the mean age in 1986, when the study started, was 61.6 years old — that took place over 25 years found that women who took them in the long term actually had a higher overall risk of death than those who did not.
Vitamin D: Take it — It helps keep your bones strong and it’s hard to get from food.
Vitamin D isn’t present in most of the foods we eat, but it’s a critical ingredientthat keeps our bones strong by helping us absorb calcium. Getting sunlight helps our bodies produce it as well, but it can be tough to get enough in the winter. Several recent study reviewshave found that people who took vitamin D supplements daily lived longer, on average, than those who didn’t.
Antioxidants: Skip them — an excess of these has been linked to an increased risk of certain cancers, and you can eat berries instead.
Vitamins A, C, and E are antioxidants found in plentiful form in many fruits — especially berries — and veggies, and they’ve been touted for their alleged ability to protect against cancer.
But studies suggest that when taken in excess, antioxidants can actually be harmful. A large, long-term study of male smokers found that those who regularly took vitamin A were more likely to get lung cancer than those who didn’t. And a 2007 review of trials of several different types of antioxidant supplements put it this way: “Treatment with beta carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E may increase mortality.”
Vitamin C: Skip it — it probably won’t help you get over your cold, and you can eat citrus fruits instead.
The vitamin C hype — which started with a suggestion from chemist Linus Pauling made in the 1970s and has peaked with Emergen-C — is just that: hype. Study after study has shown that vitamin C does little to nothing to prevent the common cold. Plus, megadoses of 2,000 milligrams or more can raise your risk of painful kidney stones.
So get your vitamin C from your food instead. Strawberries are packed with the nutrient.
Vitamin B3: Skip it and eat salmon, tuna, or beets instead.
For years, vitamin B3 was promoted to treat everything from Alzheimer’s to heart disease. But recent studies have called for an end to the overprescription of the nutrient. A large 2014 study of more than 25,000 people with heart disease found that putting people on long-acting doses of vitamin B3 to raise their levels of “good,” or HDL, cholesterol didn’t reduce the incidence of heart attacks, strokes, or deaths.
Zinc: Take it — it’s one of the only ingredients linked to shortening a cold.
Unlike vitamin C, which studies have found likely does nothing to prevent or treat the common cold, zinc may actually be worth it. The mineral seems to interfere with the replication of rhinoviruses, the bugs that cause the common cold. In a 2011 review of studies of people who’d recently gotten sick, researchers looked at those who’d started taking zinc and compared them with those who’d just taken a placebo. The ones on the zinc had shorter colds and less severe symptoms.
So should you takes multivitamins? The answer is – It’s all about balance and choice. If you’re the sort of person that has a balanced diet, sleeps a full 8 hours, hydrates properly and exercises regularly, there is a solid rationale that you don’t need multivitamins. However for the rest of us a little support here and there is no bad thing as long as you balance it out.