Although a lot of us take them religiously with every meal, decades of research has failed to find any substantial evidence that vitamins and supplements do any significant good. In fact, recent studies skew in the opposite direction, and conclude that certain vitamins may actually be bad for you.
Several have been linked with an increase in certain cancers, while others have been tied to a rise in the risk of kidney stones. Despite all the 'wokeness' around pill popping, America's habits have relatively stayed the same in the last decade.
Luckily for you, I have a list of vitamins and supplements you should take, as well as a few you really shouldn't.
1. Multivitamins - skip
For a long time, multivitamins were deemed crucial to overall health. Not only do you already get these ingredients from a lot of the food you eat, but a study in 2011 concluded that in the long term, women who took multivitamins had a higher overall risk of death than those that did not. The study was conducted with 39,000 older women, and took place over 25 years.
2.Vitamin D - take
Vitamin D helps keep your bones strong. It's not present in a lot of the food we eat, but helps us absorb a lot of calcium. Getting sunlight helps our bodies produce it as well, but it can be pretty tough to get in the winter. On average, those who take vitamin D live longer than those who don't.
3. Antioxidants - skip
Vitamins A, C, and E are antioxidants found in plentiful form in many fruits — especially berries — as well as some of your favorite veggies. They've been touted for their alleged ability to protect against cancer.
Taking antioxidants in excess, however, and you could be doing your body significant harm. A large, long-term study of male smokers found that those who regularly took vitamin A were more likely to get lung cancer compared to men who didn't. A 2007 study concluded that antioxidant supplements like beta-carotene, vitamin A, or vitamin E may increase the risk of mortality.
4. Vitamin C - skip
All those Beroccas you've been taking have sadly been in vain. The vitamin C hype - which started with a suggestion from chemist Linus Pauling made in the 1970s - is just that: hype. Study after study shows that vitamin C does little to nothing to prevent the common cold. Plus, megadoses of 2,000 milligrams or more can raise your risk of painful kidney stones. If you're not a fan of oranges, strawberries are a good alternative to getting vitamin C naturally.
5. Vitamin B3 - skip
For years, Vitamin B3 was promoted to treat everything, from Alzheimer's to heart disease. But recent studies have called for an end to the over-prescription of the nutrient. In 2014, a study with over 25,000 people with various heart diseases concluded that long-acting doses of vitamin B3 do nothing for the increase of High-density Lipoproteins (HDLs) and cholesterol.
It also didn't reduce the incidence of heart attacks, strokes, or deaths resulting from either of those. People who took B3 in the study were also more likely to develop liver problems, infections and internal bleeding compared to those that didn't, or those that took a placebo.
6. Probiotics - skip
Probiotics are pricey bacterial supplements that can cost upward of a dollar per pill, but are found naturally in smaller amounts in yoghurt and other fermented foods. They are supposed to support the trillions of bacteria blossoming in our gut, which we all know plays a crucial role in regulating our health. But so far, putting that idea into practice has been more than a little complicated.
So far, the effects of probiotics have been all over the map. Sometimes they help, sometimes they don't. Rather than shelling out for a panacea pill, just have a Petit-Filous yogurt instead.
7. Zinc - take
Unlike vitamin C, buying zinc may be worth it. The mineral seems to interfere with the replication of rhinoviruses- or the bugs that cause the common cold.
In a 2011 review of studies of people who'd recently gotten sick, researchers looked at those who'd started taking zinc and compared them with those who just took a placebo. The ones on the zinc had shorter colds, and less severe symptoms.
8. Vitamin E - skip
The antioxidant vitamin E was popularized for its alleged ability to protect against cancer, which sounds amazing. A large study in 2011, on the other hand, countered this claim with a 36,000-man study that concluded that the risk of prostate cancer actually increases among those taking vitamin E. Oops.
A study in 2005 also linked high doses of vitamin E with an overall higher mortality rate. Spinach is the way forward, people. The darker the green, the better!
9. Folic acid (B-12) - take
Folic acid, or vitamin B-12, is used by our bodies to make new cells. The National Institute of Health recommends that women who are pregnant or wanting to get pregnant should take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily, because their bodies demand more of this key nutrient when they are carrying a growing fetus.
In addition to this, studies have linked folic acid supplements before and during pregnancy with decreased rates of neural-tube defects, as well as serious and life-threatening birth defects of the baby's brain, spine, or spinal cord. B-12 also helps nerve conduction, which is good for recovering from an injury or muscle fatigue after a workout.
Hopefully, with this list of vitamins and supplements, you'll be at the pinnacle of health in no time. Eating your vegetables and regular exercise, though, still does wonders for helping you through those bad days, so try not to neglect them either.