by Marjorie Korn
Aimee Barychko Is taking a multivitamin in the morning as routine for you as brushing your teeth? This is one healthy habit that some doctors are urging you to ditch. In an editorial in the Annals of Internal Medicine published this week, the authors are blunt: "stop wasting money on vitamin and mineral supplements." There's no good evidence that vitamin supplements offer health benefits, they say. What's more, there's some evidence that high doses of certain supplements -- beta-carotene, and vitamins E and A -- could potentially be harmful.
At best, you're kinda flushing money down the toilet. For example, take that vitamin C supplement pack you take at the onset of the sniffles, which contains more than 1000 percent of your daily value. Science shows that your body can't use the excess vitamin, so you'll just pee it out. Then there are also store-bought products, like breakfast cereals and breads, which are often fortified, so you get a double-dose of certain nutrients, again, which you may not need.
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And how about those fat-soluble vitamins, like A, E, D and K? For your body to absorb these, you actually need healthy fat along with them -- a supplement isn't going to do much for you. Instead, feed yourself: Olive oil paired with Brussels sprouts is a lot tastier than a grainy horse pill (for proof, check out this amazing Orecchitte Primavera with Brussels Sprouts recipe.)
This all provides further evidence that we should be eating our nutrition, not popping supplements, advice that applies to generally healthy people. (But check with your doctor: he or she may run tests and prescribe supplements based on your specific needs.) What's more: people who take a multivitamin may feel they're being so nutritionally virtuous that they don't eat a healthy diet, as if that supplement's going to undo a burger and fries (if only it were that easy).
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Getting all your nutritional needs from food isn't a cinch. One way to make it easier is by eating diversely. Consume lots of different types of fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins, as they have different nutritional profiles. And pick nutrient-dense foods; for a good primer, check this out from the Harvard Women's Health Watch. Take that vitamin C example -- adding kiwifruit into your diet, a SELF superfood, fulfills your entire day's vitamin C needs, while also offering fiber, something that packet doesn't have (pro-tip: leave the skin on, which triples its fiber quotient).
The takeaway: that supplement probably isn't going to hurt you, but it's not going to make you healthier, either. Good health comes from the kitchen, not the medicine cabinet.