Whether your fitness goals include exercising, eating better or just the catch-all of “getting healthy,” chances are vitamins and herbal supplements are playing a key role in what you hope to accomplish.
Well, we’ve got some news for you…and while it won’t help thin your waistline, it could help fatten your wallet by helping you avoid going down a rabbit hole chasing the next elixir to achieve optimal health.
RELATED: How I save 75% on prescription drugs
The sad reality is that herbal and dietary supplements don’t always contain what they say is inside the bottle. In fact, Consumer Reports has gone as far as saying there are 15 dangerous ingredients in dietary supplements that should be avoided at all costs.
Now comes word that many of the popular vitamins people like to take may be ineffective at best and downright harmful at worst.
BusinessInsider.com recently came up with the following list of vitamins to distinguish between those that are all hype and those that actually give you some benefit.
In many cases, it’s cheaper to add a certain food to your diet rather than to pay for an expensive supplement!
There’s a shortage of Vitamin D in many of the foods we eat, yet we need it to help absorb calcium for strong bones.
Sunlight is one viable (and free!) source of this vitamin, but that’s a seasonal solution and may only work for some people less than half of the year, depending on where you live.
That’s where a good Vitamin D supplement can come in handy. The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine recommends between 600 and 800 IU (international units) daily for most adults.
Want to shorten the duration of a cold? Forget about Vitamic C…zinc is what you need!
According to the National Institutes of Health, zinc can mess up the ability of rhinoviruses to replicate and lessen the amount of time you feel under the weather.
How much should you take? The Mayo Clinic recommends between 12 to 15 milligrams a day.
If you’re pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant, you probably know this one already.
Folic acid helps our bodies make new cells. In pregnant women, it reduces the likelihood of neural tube defects in babies.
The National Institutes of Health says women who are currently pregnant or who want to get pregnant need 400 micrograms of folic acid each day.
About half of us take some kind of supplement. The four most commonly used supplements include multivitamins, vitamin D, calcium and vitamin C — in that order of popularity.
An estimated 31% of the population takes a multivitamin, 19% of people take vitamin D, 14% take calcium and 12% take vitamin C. That’s according to a 2016 report in the Journal of the American Medical Association that examined trends in dietary supplement use among U.S. adults from 1999–2012.
Unfortunately, you’re probably throwing your money away if you’re among those supplement takers!
Here’s the latest proof: A new 2018 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology finds that there’s no reduction in cardiovascular disease from taking multivitamins, including vitamins C, D, beta-carotene, calcium or selenium.
Worse yet, the cardiology journal notes that long-term use of niacin (vitamin B3) with statin drugs, which are designed to reduce levels of fats like triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood, can result in a “marginally significant increase in all-cause mortality.”
So here’s a recap of vitamins and supplements you can skip, along with some suggestions for foods you can add to your diet to make sure you’re getting enough of what your body needs…
Forget the Flintstones multivitamins! A balanced diet gives you everything you need.
And this is one that can actually do more harm than good: A 2011 study published in the
Journal of the American Medical Association found that senior women who were tracked over 25 years of taking multivitamins had a higher overall risk of death than women who did not take multivitamins.
Antioxidants (Vitamins A, C and E)
Berries and vegetables are a great source of antioxidants like A, C and E. When you get your vitamins from a healthy and balanced diet, it’s unlikely that you’ll get too much of any one nutrient.
That’s a good thing because, well, too much of certain antioxidants isn’t a good thing! Men who regularly took Vitamin A were found to be more likely to develop lung cancer than those who didn’t, according to a study from the American Cancer Institute.
Think B3 is a wonder vitamin? Think again.
A 2014 study in the New England Journal of Medicine linked B3 supplements to infections, liver problems and internal bleeding. And that’s in the midst of a study that was intended to show B3 could raise people’s “good” cholesterol levels and minimize risk of heart attacks, strokes or deaths among patients with heart disease — which it failed to do.
So no need to get a supplement for this one. Just eat foods rich in B3 and you won’t have to worry about overdoing it. Try salmon, tuna and beets for starters.
The efficacy of these highly touted ‘good’ bacterial supplements for our digestive tracts isn’t firmly established yet.
So skip the powdered and costly probiotic supplements from the supermarket. Eat yogurt and other fermented foods instead and you’ll be on your way to a happy belly.
Researchers across a variety of studies have repeatedly said that a healthy American diet low in saturated fat, trans fat and red meat, while being high in fruit and vegetables, is an appropriate way to get all the nutrition you need. And you won’t be breaking the bank buying expensive supplements.
Other solid dietary options include a Mediterranean diet and a vegetarian diet, according to Health.gov.
Remember, it’s your money; you decide how you want to spend it!
More health stories on Clark.com: