Are you wasting your money on supplements? Most likely, experts say


 Are you wasting your money on supplements?  Most likely, experts say

Since its last recommendation in 2014, the task force has reviewed 84 studies that tested vitamins in nearly 700,000 people, including 52 new studies on the topic.

However, the conclusion remained the same as it was in 2014: If you are a healthy, non-pregnant adult, there is “inadequate evidence” that taking vitamin E, vitamin D, calcium, vitamin A, beta-carotene and vitamin A prolongs life brings B3, vitamin B6, vitamin C and selenium.

However, there is enough evidence to make a recommendation versus the use of beta-carotene supplements, which the body converts to vitamin A, to prevent cardiovascular disease or cancer “due to a possible increased risk of mortality, cardiovascular mortality and lung cancer,” the task force said.

People also shouldn’t take vitamin E “because it likely has no net benefit in reducing mortality, cardiovascular disease or cancer,” the task force said.

“Lifestyle counseling to prevent chronic disease in patients should continue to focus on evidence-based approaches, including a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables and physical activity,” said Dr. Jeffrey Linder, director of general internal medicine at the Feinberg School at Northwestern University of Medicine in Chicago, in an accompanying editorial.
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Take the Mediterranean diet, for example. A Mediterranean diet that focuses on a plant-based diet, physical activity, and social engagement can reduce the risk of high cholesterol, dementia, memory loss, depression, and breast cancer, according to numerous studies.
Dishes from the sunny Mediterranean region have also been linked to weight loss, stronger bones, a healthier heart and longer lives.

Another evidence-based intervention: the DASH diet, which stands for Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension. Studies have shown that the diet is successful in lowering high blood pressure. Both the Mediterranean and DASH diets avoid processed foods and focus on fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.

“Rather than directing money, time, and attention to supplements, it would be better to emphasize lower-risk, higher-benefit activities…eating a healthy diet, exercising, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding smoking,” says Linder and wrote his colleagues.

billion dollars

Yet despite the unanimous message from the scientific community, “more than half of American adults are taking supplements” and will spend an estimated $50 billion in 2021, according to Linder and colleagues.

Why should we spend so much money on pills when there is so little evidence of their benefits?

There is a lack of evidence that vitamin and mineral supplements reduce mortality, according to the US Preventive Services Task Force.
“According to population surveys, people take vitamins to either stay healthy, feel more energetic, or gain peace of mind. These contradictory assumptions are backed up by clever marketing campaigns,” said behavioral scientist Dr. Peter Ubel in an accompanying editorial in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Then once people Viewing vitamins as “good and healthy”, another behavior called “dose insensitivity” prevails: If a little is good, more must be better, said Ubel, the is Professor of Economics, Public Policy and Medicine at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business in Durham, North Carolina. Add to this the human preference for anything labeled “natural” or “botanical,” and the likelihood of purchasing vitamins and minerals marketed that way increases, he said.

“Ad agencies recognize this bias,” added Ubel. “Now people can make up for the lack of fruits and vegetables in their diets by taking supplements on a daily basis.”

CNN contacted the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a trade organization for the dietary supplement industry, and received this response:

“The apparently limited evidence should not be misconstrued as a lack of evidence,” said Andrea Wong, the council’s senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs. “Numerous research studies support the use of multivitamins by most Americans for a number of benefits.”

Some populations require supplements

There are some population groups that require certain vitamins. According to a separate task force recommendation, pregnant women should take a dietary supplement containing 0.4 to 0.8 milligrams (400 to 800 micrograms) of folic acid daily to prevent neural tube birth defects.
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People with limited access to healthy foods or with certain medical conditions, or those over 65 may need to focus on adding specific micronutrients to their diet, experts say.

Some seniors may need additional supplementation with vitamins B12 and B6, since dietary absorption of these vitamins declines with age. Because older people often get less sun than younger age groups, they may need supplemental vitamin D, but levels should be checked by a doctor as too much D can be harmful.
Many postmenopausal women take supplements to reduce fractures, but in 2018 the task force found that vitamin D combined with calcium had no effect on the incidence of bone fractures in postmenopausal women.
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