With everyone trying to be healthy it is not hard just to reach out for a supplement pill that offers to boost your vitamin C. The question is do you really need it or are you following the hype?
More than half of all Americans take one or more dietary supplements daily or on occasion. Supplements are available without a prescription and usually come in pill, powder or liquid form. Common supplements include vitamins, minerals and herbal products, also known as botanicals.
People take these supplements to make sure they get enough essential nutrients and to maintain or improve their health. But not everyone needs to take supplements.
“It’s possible to get all of the nutrients you need by eating a variety of healthy foods, so you don’t have to take one,” says Carol Haggans, a registered dietitian and consultant to NIH. “But supplements can be useful for filling in gaps in your diet.”
Like all drugs supplements also have side effects and risks. The main problem is that there is a lot of wrong information availed to the public. It is not required by law that sellers conduct research in people to prove how safe the supplements are. It is as easy as just getting some over the counter.
There’s a lot of wrong information out there. Even for those who are usually well informed, it can be hard to find reliable information about the safe use and potential risks of dietary supplements.
Exposures to supplements (such as vitamins, herbs, protein powders, and botanicals) accounted for more than 100,000 calls to US poison control centers in 2013. Of these calls, more than 8,000 people were reportedly treated in health care facilities. More than 1000 cases were reported to poison control centers as having moderate to severe outcomes. This did not include electrolyte and mineral supplements, which accounted for another 2,500 people treated in health facilities, with 350 moderate to severe reactions and 2 deaths reported to poison control centers.
Most people who suffer unexpected side effects, illnesses, or drug interactions from dietary supplements don’t call a poison control center or the supplement manufacturer. This means that the numbers we have are likely very low estimates of actual events.
Most people love taking vitamin supplements. It is advised that this is not necessary if there is no serious deficiency of vitamins in the body. Too much of something is dangerous thus the need to know the vitamins that you do not need.
Vitamin C. Perhaps the most popular single vitamin supplement, vitamin C occurs in plentiful amounts in many fresh fruits and vegetables. In the early days of global exploration, sailors often died from scurvy, caused by the lack of vitamin C. Way back in the 1700′s, Scottish doctor James Lind famously conducted an experiment that proved that citrus fruit cured scurvy, although vitamin C itself wasn’t discovered until the 1930s.
Vitamin C gained its current popularity through the woefully misguided efforts of Linus Pauling, who published a book in 1970 recommending mega-doses of C to prevent the common cold. Although Pauling was a brilliant chemist (and Nobel laureate), he was completely wrong about vitamin C, as Paul Offit explains in detail in his new book, “Do You Believe in Magic?”
Vitamin E. Long touted as an anti-cancer agent, vitamin E is a very popular supplement. A large study last year, of 35,533 men, looked at vitamin E and the risk of prostate cancer. The authors found that the risk of cancer increased for men taking vitamin E. In an even larger review done at Johns Hopkins University, Edgar Miller and Lawrence Appel found that the overall risk of death was higher in people who took vitamin E. The Mayo Clinic summarizes the evidence this way:
“Evidence suggests that regular use of high-dose vitamin E may increase the risk of death from all causes by a small amount.”