Vitamin and Mineral Supplements
WHAT ARE VITAMINS & SUPPLEMENTS?
Vitamins are organic compounds that our bodies use, in very small amounts, for a variety of metabolic processes. It is best to get vitamins and minerals from eating a variety of healthy unprocessed foods.
While taking a general ‘broad-spectrum’ vitamin and mineral supplement ‘just in case’ poses little health risk, and may benefit a person whose diet is restricted and lacks variety, taking vitamin and mineral supplements instead of eating a nutritious diet is not recommended.
Vitamin and mineral supplements are frequently misused and taken without professional advice. They are often used as a form of medicine to treat ailments such as colds, or to counteract lifestyle issues such as stress. Contrary to popular belief, vitamins aren’t drugs or miracle cures. They are organic compounds that participate in various metabolic functions. High-dose supplements should not be taken unless recommended under medical advice.
Vitamin use and cancer claims
Some claims have been made that certain vitamins can treat different cancers. However, research shows this is not the case. For example:
- Vitamin A (beta-carotene) in large doses does not cure cancer and can be toxic, particularly if taken as pills rather than food. Studies have linked vitamin A to an increase in other cancers – such as lung cancer in smokers, if taken in supplement form.
- Although there is some evidence vitamin E could play a small role in preventing some cancers equally, there is evidence that it could speed up the onset of other types of cancer. However, this has not been proved or disproved.
- High doses of antioxidants are unlikely to help with the effectiveness of conventional cancer treatments (such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy). In fact, megadoses of antioxidants can interfere with some medical treatments for cancer by helping to protect the cancer cells that the therapies aim to destroy.
- Some studies have shown prostate, breast and lung cancer risk are not decreased by taking high-dose supplements containing vitamins E or C or selenium.
- Before You Go
- Vitamins is available without a prescription. It's available over-the-counter at your local pharmacy or drugstore. Vitamins can be ordered online if it isn't accessible locally. Make sure the version you buy has been authorized by the FDA.