Photo: Flickr via stevenglassman
To get your daily vitamins, you could pack your diet full of nutrient-rich foods, or take the shortcut some 50 per cent of Americans have woven into their daily routine––bottled herbs, vitamins and supplements. Heed this warning from Consumer Reports, however, before you start popping pills at breakfast.
“It doesn’t make sense to me to take huge doses of vitamins and minerals unless there’s a diagnosed problem, because there is so little evidence that they do good and sometimes a possibility that they might do harm,” Marion Nestle, M.P.H., Ph.D., a professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University, told the magazine.
In fact, it’s completely possible to overdose on some vitamins, including commonly swallowed pills for vitamins A, D, E and K. And now that everything from cereals to sodas have been fortified with added nutrients, it’s easier than ever to go overboard.
Always ask your doctor first, or visit the USDA for its list of recommended doses.
Here are six vitamins you probably don’t need:
Vitamin A. What happens if you OD: “Too much retinol can cause birth defects and liver abnormalities, and might harm bones,” CR says.
B vitamins. You’re probably getting enough each day, but vegetarians, the over 50-set and women who may be pregnant are exceptions.
Vitamin C. A USDA survey showed 18 per cent of adults consume less than half of the recommended daily dose, but it’s possible to overdo it. Vitamin C is great for treating cold symptoms––not so great if your body doesn’t need any extra help absorbing iron. “Vitamin C can enhance iron absorption, so avoid high doses if you have hemochromatosis, a condition in which the body absorbs and stores too much iron,” CR says.
Vitamin D. Here’s a supplement that is often debated. The sun and lots of foods are great sources for vitamin D, but some people go way over the recommended 1,000 IU limit. “People who are middle-aged or older, are overweight, or have darker skin might need supplements,” CR says.
Vitamin E. Great for skin, bad for blood clotting. Don’t take it with blood thinners.
Multivitamins. Says Consumer Reports: “Large clinical trials have repeatedly found that multivitamins don’t improve the health of the average person. People who might need a multivitamin include women who are pregnant, breast-feeding, or trying to conceive; dieters consuming fewer than 1,200 calories a day or cutting out an entire food group (carbs, for example); and those with medical conditions that affect digestion and food absorption.”
DON’T MISS: 17 surprising uses for lemons >