I always remember my parents telling my to take my vitamins as a kid. For a while, I have always thought that vitamins are a good thing and you should take them daily. Until recently when my Grandmother said she saw a study that said they might not be necessary. This got me interested to see if this was true or not. Vitamins have been long thought to provide health various health benefits but do they actually? Vitamins do have their benefits but there is growing speculation that we might not really need them.
Let’s start with the benefits of vitamins. Vitamins generally benefit people who can’t get the nutrients and vitamins they need. According to a Consumer Reports article, one example would be pregnant women or women trying to conceive. During this time, women need more nutrients than they usually do. So in this case, a vitamin is very helpful.
Some other people that might need vitamins are those on a diet or with certain disorders. People that are dieting sometimes cut out food groups that usually provide them with the correct nutrients, explains Consumer Reports. People that have disorders such as diabetes and cancer can also benefit from vitamins. As you age, your ability to take in certain nutrients starts to taper. A multivitamin might help people that are age 50 or older get the nutrients they need.
Other people that can benefit from a vitamin are those that do not get all the nutrients they need from their daily diet. Roberta Anding from the American Dietetic Association says that even though vitamins can help you get the nutrients you need, people should not rely on them. She explains that you should be focusing on what you eat and not relying on vitamins to give you the nutrients you need. A healthy diet is the best way to get your nutrients.
As more and more studies are done, experts are starting to say that people should stop taking vitamins. It has been long thought that people benefit from vitamins, but that could be false. One study that was done might prove that wrong. It looked at three past studies claiming potential benefits of vitamins and it found some interesting results, says Medical Daily. After looking through the other studies, they found that there wasn’t enough evidence to prove that the vitamins were helping. This leads me to think studies on vitamins could suffer from the file drawer problem. Have we only been seeing the studies that show benefits and not the ones that show vitamins aren’t doing anything?
Many experts are starting to advise people to stop taking vitamins. Dr. Eliseo Guallar, a professor at Johns Hopkins, says that he doesn’t believe vitamins are working. He explains that there is not significant evidence to prove that vitamins have the benefits previously reported. Guallar is also urging people to stop buying vitamins. Duffy Mackay from the Council of Responsible Nutritions feels a little different though. He explains science still supports the fact that vitamins can benefit health and help us get our nutrients. Mackay does say that we need to examine why we take vitamins but he still supports people taking them. Guallar does not feel the same way though. He still says that there is not enough evidence to support the claim that vitamins improve our health. It is a sticky situation but more and more experts seem to think vitamins might not be necessary.
This is a very hard topic to pick a side on. For many years, I have been told that vitamins are good for you. Learning that there are studies that show they might in fact do nothing is surprising to me. As I mentioned earlier, could vitamin studies suffer from the file drawer problem? Have we only been hearing about the benefits of vitamins and not about the possibility that they do nothing? It is known that pregnant women, people with certain disorders and people over 50 benefit from vitamins but what about other people. There are a multitude of studies going on to get to the bottom of this, but how long will that take? I take vitamins every day and recent studies now have me questioning my habit. Should I continue to spend money on vitamins or should I stop taking them? This is a question that I hope science can answer, and hopefully soon.
What Vitamins and Supplements Can and Can’t Do. (2016). WebMD. Retrieved 21 October 2016, from http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/nutrition-vitamins-11/help-vitamin-supplement
Experts: Don’t Waste Your Money on Multivitamins. (2016). WebMD. Retrieved 21 October 2016, from http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/news/20131216/experts-dont-waste-your-money-on-multivitamins
Daily Multivitamin – Consumer Reports. (2016). Consumerreports.org. Retrieved 21 October 2016, from http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine-archive/2010/september/health/multivitamins/pros-and-cons/index.htm
Guallar, E., Stranges, S., Mulrow, C., Appel, L., & Miller, E. (2013). Enough Is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements. Annals Of Internal Medicine, 159(12), 850-851. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-159-12-201312170-00011
Are Vitamins Actually Making Us Any Healthier?. (2014). Medical Daily. Retrieved 21 October 2016, from http://www.medicaldaily.com/truth-about-vitamins-are-they-actually-making-us-healthier-308642