Nothing incites a medical debate quite like the topic of vitamins. While some people swear by them—including a growing number of celebrity tastemakers in the health and wellness space—others aren't quite convinced. The skepticism is warranted; not only do vitamins not require FDA approval, but there's also no conclusive evidence that they actually increase life span or improve health.
Despite all of this, Americans spend a reported $30 million a year on vitamins and supplements, according to The Journal of Nutrition. So what gives? Are we all falling victim to the placebo effect? Fortunately, Self recently took it upon themselves to settle the score once and for all. The short answer: Unless you're nursing, are pregnant, want to become pregnant, or have a vitamin deficiency as diagnosed by your doctor, your vitamins may be a waste of money. This is especially true if you commit to eating a healthy, balanced diet.
"I used to recommend them and take them myself, but it's now quite clear that there's no need for multivitamins in an otherwise healthy person with a good diet," Dana Simpler, MD, a primary care practitioner at Baltimore's Mercy Medical Center, told the magazine. "It's not for somebody that has normal access to food," since we can get all of our nutrients from traditional food sources.
What's more, taking too many supplements without guidance from your doctor may be dangerous—some don't even include the ingredients listed on the packaging. If you suspect you have a vitamin deficiency, check with your doctor about a blood work test before purchasing vitamins. "From there, your doctor may recommend eating more of particular foods or taking a supplement—but it's important to have that conversation before popping a new pill," the magazine cautions.
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