5 Myths About Nutrition Supplements

Much of what you assume about vitamins and minerals may be wrong. Here are the biggest misconceptions

by Debra Witt • Next Avenue
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Photograph: Shutterstock.com

There’s a reason many supermarkets and drug stores devote an entire aisle to nutritional supplements. For those of us on a quest for better health, it's hard to resist the promise that it can be delivered in the form of neatly packaged pills.

One in three American adults takes at least one dietary supplement each day, reports the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health. Overall, Americans spend more than $11 billion annually on vitamins and minerals, according to the most recent government figures.
"There’s so much interest in nutrition today," says dietitian Joan Salge Blake, a professor at Boston University and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "Baby boomers, especially, are interested in living longer and better than the generation before. They are savvy about seeking out information; they follow health news and use the Internet to learn more. I think many are willing to do whatever it takes to stay healthy."

(MORE: Fiftysomething Diet: 5 Ways to Make a More Healthful Breakfast)

Enter supplements. Most healthy adults can benefit from a multivitamin and one or more single-ingredient supplements, says dietitian Elizabeth Somer, author of Eat Your Way to Sexy (Harlequin, 2011). The problem, though, is that too many of us are simply guessing about our needs, based on what we see in headlines or hear from friends. Here, Salge Blake and Somer clear up some widespread myths about what supplements can do for you and share tips for making sense of product labels and claim


Click here for the 5 biggest myths on Next Avenue.

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Share Your Thoughts!


Eric 08.26.2012

It is only through legal maneuvering by the medical profession and the regulatory agencies that it is disallowed to claim vitamins can "prevent, treat, and cure" diseases. Because strong clinical experience and many scientific studies have shown that this is exactly what supplements, when used properly, can do.
No knowledgeable person on vitamins would suggest a generality such as "supplements can make up for your diet's flaw" or that supplements replace a healthy diet or that vitamins should generally be taken on an empty stomach. These described "myths" resemble empty allegations (hype).
The article continues with familiar scaremongering propaganda about vitamin dangers. For instance, the statement that "taking in too much" supplements "can be harmful to your health". Name one edible substance that cannot be "harmful to your health" when "taking too much" of it? Drinking too much water is harmful to your health. (The article at http://www.supplements-and-health.com/dietary-supplements-risks.html explains the true (ugly) reasons behind the fear-mongering shenanigans over vitamin dangers and the relentless attacks on the safety of supplements.)
This is sensationalism, not education. One-sided sound bites meant to mislead you into believing that nutritional supplements are a HUGE risk to your health (and virtually of no benefit). The opposite is true.
Pharmaceutical drugs are used by around 40% of Americans. The risk of a serious supplement-drug interaction is tiny. The risk of serious drug-drug interaction is large. Few people die from taking dietary supplements each year. But... over 100,000 people die from properly taking pharmaceutical drugs, each and every year.
Now, what is it you should be extremely TERRIFIED about?

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