How many dietary supplements do you take every day? According to Statistics Canada, about half of the Canadians take at least one supplement a day. There are so many supplement products in the market today and consumers are overwhelmed with all the choices available. Are these supplements really necessary for maintaining good health? A recent review article published in the Journal of American College of Cardiology suggests otherwise.
How Supplements are made
Most supplements are synthetically made in laboratories and very few are made from naturally derived ingredients. In terms of chemistry, there is no difference found between the synthetically derived and naturally derived supplements. Most of the commercial vitamins found are made synthetically due to cost and efficiency.
Research on popular supplements
A team of researchers from St Michael’s Hospital and the University of Toronto claims that taking vitamin and mineral supplements have no significant effect on one’s health. The team reviewed 179 studies with single randomized trials that were published from January 2012 to October 2017. According to their review, the most common supplements taken were multivitamins, vitamin D, calcium and vitamin C. Their findings on these four common supplements reveal that there is little to no evidence in preventing cardiovascular diseases or early death. However, among all the dietary supplements that were reviewed, vitamin B9 (folic acid), and other B-vitamins such as B6 and B12 with folic acid were found to decrease the risk of stroke by 20%. On the other hand, the team was able to conclude that vitamin B3 (niacin) and antioxidants have rather a negative effect on our body, which may even lead to early death regardless of the cause.
What should we do?
Dr. David Jenkins, the lead author of the study reassures people that there is no harm in taking most of the popular supplements, however, he also adds that people should know that there are no significant benefits in taking them. He recommends that people should rely on eating a healthy and balanced diet to get their vitamins and minerals. According to his research, fruits, nuts, and whole wheat pasta were some of the foods that people should consider adding to their grocery list.
Here is a video from TED-Ed providing background information on the vitamins that were mentioned in the review. (Source: YouTube)