Nutrition in a Pill: Do Vitamins Work?

Almost every household in American has a bottle full of vitamins in their kitchen cabinet.  Why not?  If they can give us all the nutrients we need, packaged in a tiny pill that's just waiting to burst sweet, sweet nutrition in our tummies, there doesn't seem to be any logical reason to not take them.

It is often suggested that by taking vitamins, we will suddenly be hurled onto the fast track of health.  This $25 billion industry (figure for 2009) promises we will live longer, more enriched existences as long as we knock a few pills back a day.  One multi-vitamin has everything your body could ever need in a day, right?  Well, we may be victims of modern-day quackery, you know, the old 'snake-oil trick'.

Jaakko Mursu of the University of Minnesota, the lead author of this study, observed 39,000 women who use a daily supplement.  Not only that, these women increased their supplementation drastically over the course of the study. Mursu and his team found that no one lived longer than normal.  Nope, they all died earlier (3 to 10 percent earlier).

Mursu urges that this is not proof that supplements are a health hazard.  There has not been enough study to suggest such a poignant conclusion.  What the study does show is that vitamin supplements didn't do anything noteworthy.

To add to that, Dr. Ian Thompson from the University of Texas helped lead a study where 36,000 men took a daily supplement of vitamin E and/or selenium.  The results were a 17 percent increase in the risk of prostate cancer, the very thing nutritionists said it would prevent.

It is because of vitamins that both the men and women in these studies had health complications.  Even though there may not be enough evidence to suggest a drastic move, it might be a good idea to slow your vitamin supplementation or simply stop it all together.

According to my personal scientific experimentation (i.e. trial and error), vitamin C and Zinc do seem to help my immune system. Now if I took these vitamins every day and had a well balanced diet, I could overdose, thereby causing possible symptoms of insomnia, kidney stones, convulsions, and shock.

The most important question in my mind is:  what are we doing to our food to make it necessary to supplement our nutrition in the first place?  Doesn't it seem weird that we 'need' vitamins when we eat more amounts food than ever before?  I mean, the whole idea behind dietary supplements suggests that our diets lack something important.  So maybe we should consider dietary modification rather than supplementation.  But that's just a thought.

Do you take a multivitamin everyday?