Vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients are essential for the body to function properly. However, taking too much of certain vitamins can be detrimental to your health. Studies have shown that taking higher than recommended doses of some vitamins can cause health problems. For example, a large long-term study of male smokers found that those who took vitamin A regularly were more likely to develop lung cancer than those who didn't take it.
Additionally, some experts have called for stricter federal regulation to ensure that supplements are safe and effective. It is important to note that ingesting nutrients in food is not the same as taking them in supplement form. Many packaged foods in the U. S. are already fortified with additional nutrients, making nutritional deficiencies rare in the general population.
For most people, supplements can offer questionable benefits. The evidence is even more confusing in the case of certain plant-based dietary supplements known as botanicals, such as echinacea and ginkgo. Scientists have tried to decipher the effects of many botanicals or nutritional supplements, but the field is still plagued by weak or contradictory results. Many of the health claims that companies include on their supplement labels may extrapolate the results observed in animals to humans or exaggerate what are still preliminary findings. As a result, consumers may not know what to do with supplement claims and may be confused about which supplements are useful. When evaluating supplements, it is important to be wary of outlandish claims, as they are unlikely to be true.
Also note that some supplements may contain a much higher dose in a single pill or serving than you need. It is always best to consult your doctor before taking any supplement, as many supplements can interact with medications you're taking and may not be safe to take during pregnancy or breastfeeding, before surgery, or during cancer treatment or other medical treatments. Consumers should also look for certain certifications, such as USP or NSF International, as a sign of higher quality products. Additionally, consumers can search for information on specific vitamins, minerals and botanicals on trusted websites, including those run by Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the National Institutes of Health. In general, most people don't need to take vitamin supplements and can get all the vitamins and minerals they need if they eat a healthy, balanced diet. However, it is important to note that people find it difficult to get enough vitamin D from food alone, so everyone (including pregnant and breastfeeding women) should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D during the fall and winter. Recent studies have also discovered that certain vitamins can be bad for your health.
For example, studies show that vitamin E and beta-carotene supplements appear to be harmful, especially at high doses. Unlike vitamin C, which studies show is unlikely to do anything to prevent or treat the common cold, zinc may be worth it. The amount of iron in a multivitamin complex may also be beneficial for women of childbearing age. Children aged 6 months to 5 years should take vitamin supplements containing vitamins A, C and D every day. Ultimately, it is important for consumers to proceed with caution when taking supplements and act with due diligence before doing so. Vitamins are essential for good health but ingesting too many can have serious consequences.