Are Vitamin Supplements Safe After All?

An interesting study in the newest American Journal of Clinical Nutrition appears to contradict previous research I've posted that claimed taking supplements like vitamin C or vitamin E could be harmful to you.

Although many patients take quantities of vitamins C and E well above what's recommended (as I've often found in my practice), researchers of this new study found no consistent pattern of evidence to support any concerns over serious adverse effects. In fact, the study argues adverse effects are rarely reported for vitamins E and C at amounts higher than the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) which attests to the safety of such dietary supplementation up to the upper intake limit (UL).

Moreover, researchers tend support the consensus of published studies that vitamin E doses up to 1,000 mg/d and vitamin C doses up to 2,000 mg/d are safe for use by the general population.

So should you take them?

There's no question supplements can compensate for some of the damage people do to themselves. In my practice, however, I've found most people use them to justify their poor food choices. No matter what you spend or how much you take, there is no substitute for proper eating.

Dr. Daniel Chong said it best in his awesome article that it's not necessarily the amount of a nutrient you ingest that is important. Rather, it's the form of the nutrient and how much is bioavailable that really counts the most.

New patients I see frequently spend more than $400-500 a month on supplements, and some spend much more than that, unconcerned they may be taking a synthetic formulation of a vitamin that could harm them. Use the right food as your supplement and your body will be much healthier and much more likely to obtain the real benefits of the vitamin. And, people who eat according to their body's unique nutritional type are often happier and healthier, especially in the long term.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, April 2005, Vol. 81, No. 4: 736-745

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