Supplements don't replace a healthy diet

Supplements don't replace a healthy diet

Supplements are never a substitute for a balanced, healthful diet.

And they can be a distraction from healthy lifestyle practices that confer much greater benefits.

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Do you need a daily supplement?

health.harvard.edu

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When supplements bring benefits

Supplements prescribed by a doctor are helpful for people with certain medical issues. 

Supplements can play an important role in some high-risk groups: adults diagnosed with osteoporosis, people with Crohn's disease or celiac disease, people with vitamin B12 deficiency, etc. Otherwise, it's best to get your vitamins and minerals from food and not a pill.

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Why people take supplements
  • People often think of them as something extra they can do to be sure their basic nutritional needs are covered. 
  • There's also a possible placebo effect when taking supplements: People feel healthier if they do something they believe makes them healthy.

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Big business, little evidence

More than 90,000 products generate about $30 billion every year in the United States. 

But even though supplements are popular, there is limited evidence that they offer any significant health benefits - the health benefits are negligible or nonexistent for the average, healthy person.

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Dietary supplements

This is an umbrella term that includes everything from vitamins and minerals to botanicals and biosimilar products. 

For the most part, though, people use "supplement" to refer to an individual vitamin or mineral preparation or a multivitamin. 

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  • In studies testing the four common supplements of multivitamins, vitamin D, calcium and vitamin C, there was no reduction in the incidence of heart disease, stroke or premature death.
  • Folic acid supplements showed a reduction in heart disease and stroke. But high levels of folic acid in the blood may increase the risk of prostate cancer.
  • Among those taking statin medication to lower blood cholesterol, slow or extended release vitamin B3 (niacin) increased the risk of early death by 10%.
  • Antioxidant supplements also had a marginally significant increase of early that risk.

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New vitamin supplement study finds they may do more harm than good

theconversation.com

Over-The-Counter Pills

About 25 percent of adults above 50 years of age try to improve their brain health and memory by taking supplements.

These pills claim to enhance memory, attention and focus, protecting against Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, but offer no proof of effectiveness or safety.

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Don’t buy into brain health supplements - Harvard Health

health.harvard.edu

Vitamins and supplements: the statistics

The supplement industry is huge. In 2016, the global nutritional supplement sector turned over an estimated $132.8 billion. By 2022, some experts predict that this figure will exceed $220 billion.

According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, in 2011–2012, 52%Trusted Source of adults in the United States reported using some kind of supplement. Almost 1 in 3 people (31%) took multivitamins.

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8 myths about vitamins and supplements

medicalnewstoday.com