The conventional wisdom for years has been that if you want to stay healthy you should take vitamin supplements every day, but a growing body of evidence is showing that, not only is it not necessary, it could be damaging to your health:
“You go back 15 or 20 years, and there were thoughts that antioxidants of all sorts might be useful,” said Dr. Eric Klein, a Cleveland Clinic physician and national study coordinator for the prostate cancer and vitamin E study. “There really is not any compelling evidence that taking these dietary supplements above and beyond a normal dietary intake is helpful in any way, and this is evidence that it could be harmful.”
This is particularly true for people who take high doses of vitamins because they think that if a little of it is good then a lot of it must be better.
Among the women in the Iowa study, about 63 percent used supplements at the start of the study, but that number had grown to 85 percent by 2004. Use of multivitamins, vitamin B6, folic acid, iron, magnesium, zinc and copper were all associated with increased risk of death. The findings translate to a 2.4 percent increase in absolute risk for multivitamin users, a 4 percent increase associated with vitamin B6, a 5.9 percent increase for folic acid, and increases of 3 to 4 percent in risk for those taking supplements of iron, folic acid, magnesium and zinc.
“Based on existing evidence, we see little justification for the general and widespread use of dietary supplements,” the authors wrote.
If you eat reasonable meals with a wide variety of foods then you’re already getting what you need in the way of vitamins. Really, the only time you should be taking supplements is when you have a vitamin deficiency and are instructed to do so by your doctor. As you can see above the increased risks aren’t huge, but there’s no point in taking the risk at all if there’s no benefit to be gained from it.