I’ve long been leery of taking or advocating vitamin supplements despite all of the hype surrounding them. AND despite the repeated offers I get to make lots of money by selling the latest “miracle” brand of vitamin supplement to my clients. I always politely turn them down.
I haven’t seen scientific literature that is promising with respect to real-world benefits. And despite common misconception that vitamins at “reasonable doses” are harmless, there is strong data to show that this assumption may be false.
Now, I have just learned from Stephen Barrett, M.D. over at quackwatch.com that there’s a new article that reinforces my stance. According to Dr. Barrett:
The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics has updated its review on appropriate use of vitamin supplements. [Who should take vitamin supplements? Medical Letter 53:101-103, 2011]
The article concludes:
**In healthy people living in developed countries and eating a normal diet, the benefit of taking vitamin supplements is well established only to ensure an adequate intake of folic acid in young women and of vitamins D and B12 in the elderly.
**There is no good reason to take vitamins A, C, or E routinely.
**No one should take high-dose beta-carotene supplements.
**Long-term consumption of any biologically active substance should not be assumed to be free from risk.
For more details, you can purchase a full copy of the article for $10 at the The Medical Letter website: medicalletter.org
What supplements do I personally take?
The only supplements I’ve been taking personally are the following:
Omega-3 fish oil: this is not a vitamin, but an essential fat that has lots of support from scientific literature (I take 5g/day of combined EPA and DHA)
Vitamin D: I take this only on days where I don’t get 10-15 minutes of mid-day sun. (I take 1000-2000 iu)
Full disclosure: I also combine my fish oil (I take it in a liquid form) with extra virgin olive oil and a sea vegetable concentrate…both of which are high in anti-oxidant properties, but not something I would consider vitamin supplements.
Other than that, I try to eat “real food” and do my best to avoid all sugar, grains, and refined carbohydrates. And I exercise really intensely once a week.
Since people often ask, if you want to know the details of my exact fish oil routine: what brands I like, how much I take, etc., shoot me an email and I’ll send you a copy of the details.
Someday I’d like to write thorough explanation of how I look at the risks and benefits of vitamin supplementation, but I hope that this short overview is helpful for now.
To health and life,
P.S. I’ve heard speculation that sugars/grains may act to cause a depletion of necessary vitamins in the body. If you have any good leads on this, pro or con, feel free to let me know!