You've probably heard that a good diet and exercise is the key to unlocking your health and fitness goals and providing you with the body of your dreams. You may also be aware that vitamins and supplements could help you along your journey too. With varying degrees of success, a lot of people have claimed those little capsules have given them the extra edge when it comes to reaching their goals.
It turns out, however, they may be causing more harm than good. Certain dietary iron supplements may aid the development of colon cancer in humans, according to new research out of Sweden’s Chalmers University of Technology.
Scientists found that two strains of iron - ferric citrate, which is found in vitamin supplements, and ferric EDTA, a food additive - encouraged the formation of a biomarker associated with long-term cancer and early death.
The Swedish researchers partnered with the UK Medical Research Council and Cambridge University to examine the effect these two iron compounds have on human colon cancer cells. They compared those results with those of ferrous sulphate, another common iron strain that’s generally considered safe.
The study showed that even at low doses, ferric citrate and ferric EDTA increased levels of the cancerous biomarker. In a press release author and assistant professor at Chalmers, Nathalie Scheers said: “We can conclude that ferric citrate and ferric EDTA might be carcinogenic.”
Unfortunately, it’s hard to act on their findings. Many supplement manufacturers don’t even note the type of iron being used in their products on their labels. Still, it doesn’t hurt to check, says Scheers. “At the moment, people should still follow recommended medical advice,” she says. “But speaking personally, if I needed an iron supplement, I would try to avoid ferric citrate.”
One person who may be disheartened to hear the news about vitamins is former Glee star and singer Lea Michele. Between performing, acting and her charity work, the star has a lot of plates to spin. She puts it down to eating well, not to mention treating your body right as well as taking vitamins and supplements.
"I always keep tons of healthy fruits and vegetables in my refrigerator that are all organic. I find that the healthier foods I have at home the nutritious snacks I have on hand at all times."
She continues: "rather than snacking on bad things it helps me to stack on good things all the time. YUM!" When a snack-attack strikes, she'll have no choice but to reach for something like a fistful of cherries or a ripe, juicy orange. Much better for you than a slice of pizza or cheesecake.
She takes vitamins and supplements because it helps her take on the day. What works for her may not definitely work for you. Everybody's bodies are different and you should always seek professional medical help if you feel like you want to start taking vitamins or feel like they are making you ill.