Do I need to take Supplements?
Do you need to take dietary supplements every day? “That depends,” according to a panel of scientists.
New Report on Multivitamin Use
A panel of 13 experts met in Bethesda, Maryland, to assess the evidence available on multivitamin / mineral use and outcomes for disease prevention. They focused on review of randomized controlled trials (RCT). RCTs are often considered the gold standard for evidence-based public policy formulation. Convened by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the panel released a draft statement on May 17, 2006.
Dietary supplements: Insufficient Evidence
Despite the widespread use of multivitamins, the panel found insufficient evidence to support a recommendation either for or against the use of multivitamins to prevent chronic diseases among healthy adults. However, the experts found evidence of use for specific single vitamin and/or mineral supplements and their combinations. Their findings are as follows:
- Beta-Carotene should be avoided by smokers due to an increased risk for lung cancer
- Calcium and Vitamin D benefit bone mineral density and prevent fracture risk in post-menopausal women
- Selenium may cut risk of prostate, lung and colorectal cancers
- Vitamin E may decrease deaths from heart disease in women; it may also lower the risk for prostate cancer in male smokers
- Antioxidants and Zinc: an antioxidant combination of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene and zinc may benefit intermediate age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a type of eye disease
The Bottom Line
As fortified foods are widely available nowadays, the panel cautioned that there is a risk of surpassing the upper tolerable level (UL) if people are taking a multivitamin or a single dietary supplement every day in addition to eating fortified foods. It is best to speak to your doctor or have a dietitian review your diet before taking dietary supplements.
Note: The NIH panel only reviewed evidence pertaining to the healthy adult population. Issues related to pregnant and lactating women, children or adults with chronic disease were not explored.