Doctors are now revealing that the vitamin pills we believe are good for the body are not actually effective enough to keep us healthy. Doctors have issued a reminder to people of the revelation they have made because over 50% of Americans are presently using at least a single dietary supplement regularly.
Dietary supplements cannot be considered as a substitute for healthy diets and provide only the minimum benefits if any required by healthy adults. The revelation was made in a viewpoint article which was published in JAMA earlier this week.
The comments which have been made are looking to separate the facts from stories announced Dr. JoAnn E Manson the lead author and chief of preventive medicine at the Brigham and women’s Hospital who is also the professor of medicine the Harvard medical school.
Manson stated that people are constantly being bombarded by marketing techniques utilized by manufacturers of dietary supplements without being given the evidence needed to verify the efficacy of the claims being made. She mentioned that an attempt was being made to encourage people not to depend on vitamins, micronutrients, and minerals instead of a healthy diet because it is essential to ensure the best absorption especially when people get a wide variety of nutrients in optimal issues that are biologically safe.
Doctors are not recommending the use of multivitamins and supplements routinely for the general population mentions the article while stating that people in certain stages of their life which can be classified as high-risk may benefit from the supplements or vitamins.
What are the recommendations provided by doctors?
Doctors are recommending that people should have a healthy and a well-balanced diet which includes whole grains and foods that will provide the vitamins and minerals needed by the majority of the population.
People need to be certain that any supplements or vitamins cannot be a substitute for vegetables and fruits. Most importantly people must understand they are talking about foods which are full of varieties of beneficial macronutrients along with micronutrients and therefore must understand that replacing them with vitamins or supplements will not provide similar benefits.
Manson has also commented that there is a need for people to shun products that are highly processed because the processing eliminates vitamins, fiber, and minerals from many foods.
Multivitamins can be used to fill shortfalls
Healthy adults are never recommended supplements which can provide them multivitamins and multi-minerals states the report.
However, people who are concerned that their diet is not adequate primarily because they are not having sufficient fruits and vegetables or are not in a position to change their everyday habits can consider filling the shortfall with the help of multivitamins. Manson considers this option as a reasonable form of insurance.
Supplements can help people in certain life stages
Pregnant women need folic acid for preventing birth defects and it has been observed that synthetic folic acid is absorbed better by the body than the dietary variety and therefore it is essential at this stage. Planning to have folic acid and other varieties of prenatal vitamins can also be helpful at the preconception stage.
Vitamin D will be useful for infants that are breastfed until they are weaned but iron supplements must also be given to them from the age of 4 to 6 months.
Middle-aged and older adults may benefit from vitamin B12 supplements, vitamin D and/or calcium.
Vitamins and supplements are also beneficial for people with medical conditions. Some conditions can interfere with absorption of nutrients or cause problems with metabolism and therefore require the patient’s to begin using supplements. Conditions that are prominent in people developing such problems include bariatric surgery, osteoporosis, Crohn’s disease and pernicious anemia.
Supplements are never beneficial when ingested in large doses
Earlier it was believed that high doses of nutrients which included folic acid, vitamin E or selenium, and beta-carotene would be beneficial. However clinical trials have revealed they may have harmful effects which could increase incidences of mortality, cancer, and hemorrhagic strokes.
Therefore people are advised not to assume they will be free from any risks when they decide to take supplements in large doses. In order to maintain the risks at a minimum people should stick to the recommended dietary allowance of having small or moderate doses of vitamins or supplements in order to derive maximum benefits.
Vitamin D supplements are still in the process of undergoing research
Plenty of discussions can be heard about vitamin D supplements but it is not clear whether these supplements are really helpful. In the ongoing vital study which is the largest clinical trial of vitamin D that is randomized, Manson is the principal investigator. Researchers are trying to understand whether having supplements of vitamin D3 or omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the risk of developing cancer, strokes or heart disease.
The results of the research are expected sometime later this year. Presently Manson has the opinion that people will do better simply to follow the guidelines provided by the National Academy of medicine and should just be aiming to have 600-800 IUs of vitamin D every day because they are sufficient to meet the requirements of most.
People who are suffering from conditions like osteoporosis or have problems with their bones can consider taking 1000-2000 IUs every day as a supplement especially if they are concerned about their diet. However, observations have also been made that people are having in excess of 10,000 IUs every day as supplements which has the potential to create risks such as high blood and urine calcium which could lead to the development of kidney stones.
Supplements to boost immunity are not authentic
There are no supplements available which are capable of warding away illnesses during the flu season. Manson mentions that while it would be great to have the magic wand which could reduce the risk of developing colds and flu no such discoveries have been made presently.
Despite evidence being available that some supplements of vitamin C can reduce the duration of the symptoms, it would be better to consume fruits and vegetables or even a bowl of chicken soup mentioned Manson.