Wait a Vita-Minute!

Let’s talk vitamins. Heck, let’s include minerals in the conversation. Maybe even trace elements can get a shout-out.

For decades, people dutifully took vitamin supplements because we were told they would enhance our health, and that most of us don’t get enough from the foods we eat. What an elegant solution, then, to swallow a capsule and not have to worry about getting enough Riboflavin or Selenium.

Then came the backlash. Researchers started to look into whether supplements were actually providing the benefit they claimed. And it turns out that they don’t.

Last year, a study published in The Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that supplements were basically worthless. At least when it comes to prevention of things like cardiovascular disease, stroke, or overall mortality rates.Multi-vitamins, Vitamin C, vitamin D, even calcium showed no benefit. There was an exception when it comes to Folate and a couple other B vitamins, which were found to have a small preventative effect.

But wait—there’s more! The results also showed that Niacin and antioxidants actually INCREASED the risk of overall mortality!

I know what you’re thinking: That was last year, and science keeps getting better, so maybe the newest research is more positive for these supplements.


Just this week, The Annals Of Internal Medicine published a new study that again found that some supplements can harm you. This time, calcium in high doses from supplements was linked to increase risk of cancer deaths. Yikes!

There was some good news. Getting enough vitamin K and magnesium was linked to lower overall mortality. Vitamins A and K, as well as zinc and copper, were associated with lower risk of death from heart disease.

But here’s the rub: it totally depends on whether you’re getting these substances from supplements, or real food.

Remember evil calcium? Well, the increased risk of cancer was found only when calcium was taken as a supplement. When the same amounts of calcium were consumed in real foods, there was no associated increase in risk. And the benefits found were only applicable when the nutrient were obtained from eating real food. Taking supplements did not confer the same effect.

Ugh! Apparently there’s no shortcut to health. We’re all just going to have to choke down fistfuls of spinach and cauliflower.

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