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Are Vitamin Supplements Really Useless Or Can They Play a Role in Promoting Health?

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Q. Is it true that taking vitamins is a waste of money since they do not improve our health?

A. An editorial in the Annals of Internal Medicine (Dec. 17, 2013) titled "Enough Is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements" makes this argument. We don't entirely agree, however.

Some studies have shown that certain vitamins can improve cognitive function, reduce the risk of cancer or lower the chance of getting cataracts (JAMA, Jan. 1, 2014 & Nov. 14, 2012; Ophthalmology, Feb. 2014).

In addition, millions of people take drugs that may interfere with nutrient absorption. Some people may not realize that popular proton pump inhibitors such as lansoprazole (Prevacid) or omeprazole (Prilosec), used for GERD or even for heartburn, can reduce absorption of vitamin B12 and minerals such as calcium and magnesium.  In such cases, vitamins and minerals can be essential.

You can get a different perspective on this topic from our discussion with Tieraona Low Dog, MD, who is one of the country's leading experts on the evidence base for supplements. You may also be interested in our article on the use of vitamin E against cognitive decline. Research has also shown that omega-3 fats, whether from fish or fish oil, may be helpful in maintaining the brain. 

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4 Comments

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I now take my multi-vit only twice a week and cut it in half - take am & pm. I do not see any evidence of it washing hru my body on those days. I also take fish oil & primrose oil because these are very helpful to me with my psoriatic arthritis.

I am an 85 yr old woman who surprises doctors when she tells them she takes no drugs and has no medical conditions except a hip implant. One of the reasons could be she takes many vitamins and other supplements, but only when and as long as she needs them.

Supplements can be very curative, even more so than medicine without the sometime terrible side effects of medicine. To say we're wasting money on them is an outright lie.

Corinne T

Better "life" through chemistry. Better quality of life through nourishment.

I recently was treated for pre skin cancer of the lips. Upon finishing the treatment, I have been plagued with a yeast infection on my lips.
Are there any other treatments other than an anti fungal cream which will rid me of this? thanks for any information you can provide.

People's Pharmacy response: What is the problem with antifungal cream? This is the usual treatment for yeast infections.

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