Are you wasting your money on supplements? Most likely, experts say | CNN

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Vitamin, mineral and multivitamin supplements are not likely to protect you against cancer, heart disease or overall mortality, according to the US Preventive Services. the task force said in updated guidelines published Tuesday in the journal JAMA.

Since its last recommendation in 2014, the task force has reviewed 84 studies testing the vitamins in nearly 700,000 people, including 52 new studies on the topic.

Yet the conclusion remained the same as in 2014: if you are a healthy, non-pregnant adult, there is “insufficient evidence” of any benefit to prolonging your life by taking vitamin E, vitamin D , calcium, vitamin A, beta-carotene, vitamin B3, vitamin B6, vitamin C and selenium.

However, there is enough evidence to recommend versus the use of beta-carotene supplements, which the body converts into vitamin A, to prevent cardiovascular disease or cancer “due to an increased risk of mortality, cardiovascular mortality and lung cancer”, said the work group.

People also shouldn’t take vitamin E “because it likely has no net benefit in reducing mortality, cardiovascular disease, or cancer,” the task force said.

“Lifestyle advice to prevent chronic disease in patients should continue to focus on evidence-based approaches, including balanced diets rich in fruits and vegetables and physical activity,” said Dr. Jeffrey Linder, chief of general internal medicine at the Feinberg School at Northwestern University. of Medicine in Chicago, in an accompanying editorial.

Take, for example, the Mediterranean diet. Eating the Mediterranean way, which focuses on a plant-based diet, physical activity and social engagement, may reduce the risk of high cholesterol, dementia, memory loss, depression and breast cancer. according to many studies.

Meals from the sunny Mediterranean region have also been linked to weight loss, stronger bones, a healthier heart, and a longer lifespan.

Another evidence-based intervention is the DASH diet, which stands for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.” The diet successfully reduces high blood pressure, studies have shown. The Mediterranean and DASH diets avoid processed foods and focus on fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.

“Rather than focusing money, time and attention on supplements, it would be better to focus on lower risk and more beneficial activities…following a healthy diet, exercising , maintain a healthy weight, and avoid smoking,” Linder and colleagues wrote.

Yet despite the consistent message from the scientific community, “more than half of American adults take dietary supplements,” spending an estimated $50 billion in 2021, according to Linder and colleagues.

Why would we spend so much money on pills with so little evidence to support their benefits?

“According to population surveys, people take vitamins to stay healthy, feel more energetic, or have peace of mind. These evidence-defying beliefs are reinforced by clever marketing campaigns,” said Dr. Behavioral scientist Peter Ubel in an accompanying editorial published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Then, once people view vitamins as “good and healthy,” another behavior called “dose insensitivity” sets in: if less is good, more must be better, said Ubel, who is a professor of business, public policy and medicine at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Add to that a human bias toward anything labeled “natural” or “botanical” and the likelihood of buying vitamins and minerals marketed in this way increases, he said.

“Ad agencies recognize this bias,” Ubel added. “Now people can make up for the lack of fruits and vegetables in their diets by ingesting daily supplements.”

CNN contacted the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a supplement industry trade organization, and received this response:

“The seemingly limited evidence should not be construed as an absence of evidence,” said Andrea Wong, the board’s senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs. “Many research studies support the use of multivitamins by most Americans for a range of benefits.”

Certain populations require certain vitamins. Pregnant women should take a daily supplement containing 0.4 to 0.8 milligrams (400 to 800 micrograms) of folic acid to prevent neural tube birth defects, according to a separate task force recommendation.

According to experts, people with limited access to healthy food choices or who have certain medical conditions or anyone over the age of 65 may need to focus on adding specific micronutrients to their diet.

Some older people may need additional vitamin B12 and B6 supplementation because absorption of these vitamins from food decreases with age. Because older people often get less sunlight than younger people, they may need extra vitamin D, but levels should be checked by a doctor because too much D can be harmful.

Many postmenopausal women take supplements to reduce fractures, but in 2018 the task force found that vitamin D combined with calcium had no effect on the incidence of fractures in postmenopausal women.

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