Harmful Daily Vitamins?
When I was little, my mom always put a Flintstone Vitamin next to my bowl of cereal every morning before school. I did not mind, because it tasted really good and my mom told me that it helped my body grow. Being a college student with unhealthy eating habits, I have made it a habit to take a daily vitamin with breakfast every morning thinking that the vitamin helps even everything out. So it caught my attention when I read in a U.S. News article that stated that vitamins and minerals in daily pills do not necessarily provide all of the benefits that people hope to receive from them.
In the article, it mentioned a study that researched the effects of selenium and vitamin E on prostate cancer, as these two supplements were originally thought to help prevent this type of cancer. However this study of 35,000 men found that these two supplements actually had slightly increased the risk of prostate cancer and diabetes, and the researchers closed the study early. This article mentions that many of the foods produced in present times are fortified with enough nutrients that supplements do not make a difference (Hobson, 2008).
During this time when many vitamins and minerals are being questioned, researchers are pushing vitamin D more than ever. Researchers have yet to find adverse side effects and the vitamin has been found to benefit the entire body. According to Dr. Bruce Hamilton and Dr. Hakin Chalabi (2010), adequate amounts of vitamin D nearly doubles calcium absorption and decreases the loss of phosphorus from the kidneys. The doctors also found that supplementation of vitamin D reduces the loss of type II muscle fibers as people age. In a study by Cannell et. al. (2009), the researchers found that ultraviolet light had a positive effect on athletic performance. The findings that vitamin D positively affects human skeletal muscle, along with these findings that UV light affects athletic performance can be used to benefit training athletes (Cannell, 2009).
Antioxidant vitamins are among the most popular supplements. In a study by Hercberg et. al. (1999), the researchers focused on patients with high risk cardiovascular diseases. The researchers found that antioxidants such as carotene, tocopherol, and selenium had a positive effect on cancer incidence rates. The researchers also found no harmful effects of antioxidant supplementation on health outcomes in patients with cardiovascular diseases (Hercberg, 1999).
In summary, taking vitamin and mineral supplements cannot replace a healthy diet and adequate physical activity, but in most situations, it does not hurt. Personally, I feel that it is common sense to supplement vitamins and minerals that the human body needs if you feel that your diet is not sufficient. Pharmaceutical companies and research will continue to push certain vitamins and hold back on others, but simply taking daily vitamin still seems like a logical habit.
Cannell J., Hollis B., Sorenson M., et al. (2009). "Athletic performance and vitamin D." Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 43(5):1102-1110.
Hamilton, B., & Chalabi, H. (2010). VITAMIN D: AN UPDATE FOR THE SPORTS MEDICINE PRACTITIONER. SportEX Medicine, (43), 11-16. Retrieved from SPORTDiscus with Full Text database.
Hercberg, S., Galan, P., & Preziosi, P. (1999). Antioxidant Vitamins and Cardiovascular Disease: Dr Jekyll or Mr Hyde?. American Journal of Public Health, 89(3), 289-291. Retrieved from SPORTDiscus with Full Text database.
Hobson, K. (2008). Vitamins and Supplements: Do they work? U.S. News and World Report, Retrieved from: