Do Vitamin Supplements Really Work?

Do you want to lose weight quickly? Are you sleepy? Is your hair kind of gross? Try a supplement! There are hundreds of them Surely one of them can help you

Right? Well, maybe not [SPLASH INTRO] Supplements are a multi-billion dollar business Unlike prescription drugs, the US government doesn’t regulate manufacturer claims about what supplements “could” do for you or how well they do it It only steps in when they may be harmful Many supplements include vitamins or minerals that are meant to enhance you in some way or make up for a deficiency in your body

And yes, there’s other supplement products including herbals, protein supplements and enzymes – but let’s focus on vitamins and minerals in multivitamins, the most popular supplements out there, for now Your body needs these molecules and elements to survive, but can’t make them on its own, so you’ve got to get them from food Supplements are meant to, well, supplement what you might be missing from your diet Doctors and scientists agree you can't miss out on these 13 vitamins You also need minerals, which are elements like iron, potassium, or magnesium

Many people get enough vitamins and minerals from their diets, but certain groups of people can benefit from supplements For example, if you’ve got a nutrient poor diet–and many of us are probably missing out on at least a small amount of one vitamin or mineral, vitamin supplements can help you plug small gaps in your nutrition A doctor can diagnose that kind of deficiency and recommend what to take and how much And certain kinds of supplements, like vitamin D and folic Acid, can help new and expecting mothers reduce the risk of birth defects and low-birth weight babies For more, here’s our favorite biologist Joe Hanson from Its OK to be Smart: Joe Hanson: “So for some people, dietary supplements can be a big help

But you’re probably better off spending your money on groceries and eating a well-rounded diet You get way more nutritional bang-for-your-buck from food, since you’re getting more than just vitamins and minerals You’re also gobbling up beneficial plant compounds called phytochemicals, fiber and other good stuff that you don’t get from supplements Some researchers still recommend taking a multivitamin as insurance against lapses in our diet But there’s not a whole lot of evidence that show benefits of taking vitamins and minerals

Study after study has shown that vitamin and mineral supplements, especially “one a day” multivitamins, aren’t worth it One analysis of randomized controlled trials — the gold standard of scientific studies — looked at 90,000 people and found that a multivitamin or multimineral didn’t change their risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease or early death” Quick fun fact, vitamin C is not the end all be all for colds that you might think it is Yes, vitamin C plays a role in your immune system But taking more than 1000% of the daily recommended dose is not going to ward off a cold

It’s just going to make your pee more orange OK Tell us more Joe “So there’s very little evidence that taking vitamin supplements will make you healthier, or smarter, or more beautiful In some cases, taking too much can be harmful

One study found that more than 20,000 people go to the ER each year from an overdose, allergic reaction or other adverse effects related to supplements Investigations have also found that some supplements don’t even contain any of the vitamins or minerals they claim to! Like, zero Zilch Nada” Oh, and all those other kinds of supplements? Fish oil? Protein powder? Things like that? A few have shown to be effective, but many more show no evidence of improving health

Again, most of the health claims from supplement makers simply aren’t supported by scientific evidence Fish oil, whose omega-3 fatty acids are supposed to ensure heart health, and choline, which people take in the hope it will ward off dementia, are both short on evidence of benefits when taken as a supplement So should YOU take supplements? There is some disagreement here Some experts say you should take multivitamins as nutritional insurance, while some say they’re a waste of money for people who get all or most of their nutrients from a balanced diet For others with serious nutrient deficiencies or restricted diets, they can help when taken under medical supervision

But everybody agrees that even if you take a multivitamin, it won’t help if you’re eating a pizza-based diet The ideal route to getting your vitamins and minerals is through good food, NOT through supplements According to the University of California’s Berkeley Wellness program, “If multivitamins have an effect—good or bad—it is likely to be small" Ask your doctor, do your own research and stay skeptical However …, just because a supplement doesn’t give the benefits it claims doesn’t mean that little pill can’t help

That’s the bizarre result of the placebo effectwhich would only work if you hadn’t just watched this video Or…

It could still work Anyway, click over to It’s Okay to be Smart, to see what Joe has to say about the placebo effect Thanks for watching

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