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July 17, 2019

Vitamin supplements provide no health benefit, after all

May 29, 2018
Some of the most popular vitamin and mineral supplements — like those for vitamin D, calcium and vitamin C — don’t actually do much at all.

Mom was right, there’s no substitute for healthy eating.

Some of the most popular vitamin and mineral supplements — like those for vitamin D, calcium and vitamin C — had zero influence on lessening a person’s risk for cardiovascular disease, heart attack, stroke or premature death, a new study found.

“We were surprised to find so few positive effects of the most common supplements that people consume,” the study’s lead author and University of Toronto nutritional sciences professor, David Jenkins, said in a release. “Our review found that if you want to use multivitamins, vitamin D, calcium or vitamin C, it does no harm — but there is no apparent advantage either.”

The study reviewed data on vitamins A, B1, B2, B3 (niacin), B6, B9 (folic acid), C, D and E; and mineral supplements including calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, and selenium.

The only pills the study found to be beneficial were folic acid and B-vitamins. The acid on its own and when combined with B-vitamins might reduce a person’s risk of cardio diseases and stroke. Inversely, the researchers discovered that introducing niacin and antioxidants to a diet that doesn’t need either might — very slightly — increase the risk of premature death.

“These findings suggest that people should be conscious of the supplements they’re taking and ensure they’re applicable to the specific vitamin or mineral deficiencies they have been advised of by their healthcare provider,” Jenkins said. “It’s most beneficial to rely on a healthy diet to get your fill of vitamins and minerals.

“So far, no research on supplements has shown us anything better than healthy servings of less processed plant foods including vegetables, fruits and nuts.”

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