When it comes to vitamins and supplements, there is so much misinformation out there that it is hard to know what to believe about them. There are many false claims from manufacturers, self-proclaimed health gurus with misleading information, and all of the sorts of well-meaning people who simply don‘t know what they are talking about. Combined with the desire for people‘s need to believe that vitamins and supplements will perform miracles for them, many myths and misunderstandings have developed surrounding vitamins and supplements.
Facts: Vitamins and supplements can help prevent disease, help cure disease, and help lessen the effects of disease; but vitamins and supplements alone cannot cure disease. No one who is seriously ill should ever take vitamins in place of prescribed medication or medical care. The main benefit of vitamins and supplements is their preventative nature. For example, if you have a history of cancer in your family, you might want to take beta carotene to prevent the disease before you have any signs of it.
Facts: While there are many people who take vitamins and supplements seriously, there are others who take them like candy, and don‘t feel like they have any major effect. The truth here lies somewhere in the middle. While technically vitamins and supplements are not medication, when taken in the right doses, they can take on the same qualities. Studies that researchers conduct with higher doses of vitamins and supplements show that these kinds of doses can have almost the same effect as real medication. Taken liberally, they can interfere with other medications and have serious side effects. So, while technically vitamins are not medicine, they should be taken like they are.
Facts: This is completely false. There are several vitamins and supplements that can be deadly when taken in high doses or for too long a period of time. Vitamins A and D, niacin, and iron can all have adverse effects, resulting in liver damage, heart disease, loss of nerve function, and increased risk of cancer. Other supplemental overdoses can cause milder medical problems like diarrhea, stomach pain, and sleeplessness. Taken together in large doses, some vitamins will also cancel each other out. For example, too much extra zinc can zap the effects of any copper you might be taking.
Facts: Just because a substance is labeled "Vitamin C" doesn‘t mean that it will have the same potency as every other "Vitamin C" on the shelf. For example, researchers have questioned whether synthetic vitamin C is as effective as vitamin C produced from rosehips or other natural substances. Vitamins come in so many different forms and from so many different sources that it is important to read the label and also to be an educated shopper. This way, you will get the vitamins you need in the right form and potency.
Facts: The only thing that is true about any vitamin or supplement is what you read from independent studies or literature. Many manufacturers make claims based on research or information that is not accurate in order to make sales. If the label on a vitamin or a supplement makes claims that don‘t sound believable, then they probably aren‘t. Many of these claims are made so that the price can be jacked way up in order for the manufacturer to make a big profit. Save your money. Just because a supplement costs twice as much as the others, doesn‘t mean that it will work better.
Facts: You can‘t live on junk food and take a daily supplement and think that it will do anything. If you eat nothing but junk food and take a multivitamin every day, the only thing that it will do for you is make you feel less guilty about your bad eating habits. Supplements are just what they say they are: supplementary to healthy eating. They are definitely not a replacement for it.