• More and more people are growing concerned about their nutritional health and many turn to vitamin supplements as a form of nutritional "insurance." But there is some confusion and uncertainty over what kinds of vitamins "should" be taken on a daily basis. The simple answer is: the only kinds of vitamins that one should take on a daily basis are those that your doctor or nutritionist advises you to take.

    Who You Are Determines Your Vitamin Needs

    If you are concerned about which vitamins you should be taking, asking your doctor or nutritionist about vitamin usage is the first step. A doctor's vitamin recommendation is usually based upon factors like age, gender, health and lifestyle. Sometimes doctors will recommend taking a vitamin supplement if he or she thinks that this will have an improved effect on one's nutritional health. However, most doctors avoid recommending vitamin supplements and instead advise adjusting one's diet to ensure proper nutritional health. Further, there is a good deal of evidence that vitamin taking provides no nutritional or health benefit whatsoever.

    No Measurable Health Benefit from Taking Vitamins

    A 2007 report conducted by the respected Cochrane Hepato-Biliary Group at Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark (and reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Feb. 2007) found that "anti-oxidant" vitamins (like vitamins A, beta carotene and E, which "trap" damaging oxygen radicals in the body) do not make people live longer lives. In this overview report, the researchers analyzed 68 studies involving 232,606 people. Their findings: vitamin taking had no significant effect--neither positive nor negative--on mortality (the risk of early death). The "longevity" effect of taking such vitamins is apparently neutral. What's more, looking only at the most trustworthy studies, the same report found that taking these vitamins may actually increase one's mortality risk by a small percentage, depending on the vitamin. Vitamin A was found to have the highest correlation with increased mortality risk (with a 16% increase chance). The report did not speculate as to the exact reasons for this increased risk. Some doctors refute these findings, claiming they are the result of pooling together too many different-sized studies. However, other studies have shown similar findings--especially regarding the taking of "mega-dosages" or "super-dosages" of vitamins. For example, large dosages (well over the "recommended daily allowance") of vitamin A were shown to increase the risk of lung cancer in smokers, and large dosages of vitamin C have been linked to "endotoxins" that build up inside our cells and that may cause damage to DNA. Although early studies suggested that taking anti-oxidants might prevent damage to the heart, nearly every clinical study on anti-oxidants since these initial findings has failed to show any clear and convincing evidence for the health benefits of vitamin supplements. Despite the lack of consistent evidence, an estimated 80 to 160 million people in North America and Europe (combined) take one or more vitamins on a daily basis.

    Rely on Food to Get Your Nutrients

    Many nutrition researchers believe that the health benefits of anti-oxidants only result when they are in the foods we eat. They recommend eating vitamin-rich foods (fruits such as tomatoes and red grapes, beta-carotene-rich vegetables like carrots and yams) to maintain high levels of anti-oxidants in the body. Still, the benefits of these vitamins--even in foods--may be simply the result of a "carry over" effect from a healthier lifestyle--that is, people who eat vitamin-rich foods tend to take better care of their health in general.


    Vitamins A, C and E don't help you live longer

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