There are two things that have affected my attitudes about vitamin supplements. First, I’ve never been much of a pill taker. This was no doubt a result of my mom who didn’t believe much in taking medicine. I didn’t share her cynisicm about medicine but I did pick up her penchant for avoiding pills. It’s not even that I’m anti-pill. It just never occurs to me to take anything.
Second, I’m a scientist who has worked in the consumer products business. I have first hand knowledge about how consumer product marketers will spin data, twist stories, and tell outright lies to get people to buy products that aren’t really needed. If you see it in an advertisement, you have to be super skeptical.
Vitamin Supplements for healthy people
It is with this background that I approached the vitamin supplement world. Sure, I heard lots of people giving advice that I need to take vitamins. They told me that people who exercise a lot in particular need vitamins to be healthy. I was skeptical but as a scientist, I’m always open to new ideas.
So, I looked into the subject of vitamin supplements. I looked at what the science says. I looked at the regulation of them in the USA. And you know what? I’m more convinced than ever that basically healthy people should not take vitamin supplements. This does not apply to people who have diseases or conditions that can benefit from vitamin supplementation. But for healthy people who eat a reasonable diet, there is no good reason to take a vitamin supplement.
And there are some good reasons not to.
Take this study for example. It demonstrates that antioxidants can actually damage DNA. And in this study published in an issue of Psychological Science, there is a suggestion that dietary supplements actually work against you by encouraging you to eat less healthy.
Not a regulated product
But forget about the science that shows dietary supplements are neutral to negative in terms of your health. One of the most concerning things about them is that in the USA they are practically unregulated. You have no guarantee that the product you are buying contains the ingredient or levels of ingredients as listed on the packaging. The FDA has practically no power to affect manufacturers and the industry has no incentive to play by standard rules.
This lack of regulation of potentially dangerous compounds is the one reason I will tell anyone who would listen, if you’re healthy don’t take vitamin supplements (or any other supplement.) If you want the benefit of the ingredients that you think you will get, eat lots of fruits and vegetables. You will get a reasonable amount of your vitamins and also get a blend of vitamin derivatives that are just not found in vitamin supplements.
Anyway, that’s my plan to live a healthy life (and to joggle every day of course). Hopefully, it helps me to live until 107 and beyond.
It’s worked so far.