8 vitamins and minerals that could be a waste of money (and even be dangerous)
When it comes to supplements, too much doesn’t necessarily mean better.
1 /9 Multivitamins are ineffective against cardiovascular disease.
Too much of a good thing?
Vitamins and minerals are essential for health, but that doesn’t mean that megadoses will keep you away from hospitals or make you live longer. In the wrong dosage, some can be harmful.
However, high doses of certain vitamins and minerals may be suitable for some people. Talk to your doctor if you are pregnant or think you may have kids soon if you are vegetarian or vegan, have limited exposure to the sun, are an athlete, or think you are deficient in food.
2 /9 Vitamins: many consume beta-carotene for anticancer properties.
Beta-carotene is a substance that our body converts into vitamin A. If Canadian health authorities do not recommend a specific amount of beta-carotene, daily consumption of vitamin A is however recommended. That is, 900 mcg for men and 700 mcg for women who are not pregnant and who are not breastfeeding.
Among its highest food sources are carrots, spinach, kale and cantaloupe. Some people take them as an anti-cancer antioxidant, but these supplements can increase the risk of lung cancer in smokers.
In addition, unlike their food counterparts, they have not been shown to prevent any other form of cancer.
The body stores vitamin A in the liver for a long time, so a large dose could be toxic. In the end – except on the recommendation of your doctor in connection with a medical condition – do not take it.
3 /9 Vitamins: folic acid would reduce the risk of neural tube defects in newborns.
Aim to consume 400 mcg of folate every day. They are found in fortified bread or whole grain bread, in breakfast cereals, legumes or asparagus. Folic acid – a form of folate – is often associated with reducing the risk of neural tube defects in newborns, which is why the healthy authorities recommend this supplement for pregnant women.
Because folic acid – a form of folate – is associated with reducing the risk of neural tube defects in newborns, it is a supplement that is highly recommended to pregnant women by health authorities. However, some doctors note that at high doses, supplementation can contribute to colon cancer.
4 /9 Vitamins: Some people take selenium to prevent prostate cancer.
Try to get 55 micrograms of selenium from natural sources, such as Brazil nuts, tuna, and beef. Some people take selenium to prevent cancer, especially prostate cancer. But these good intentions could backfire.
A major study found that taking selenium could increase the risk of prostate cancer in men who already have a high level of this mineral.
A perfectly safe method to prevent prostate cancer? Ejaculation! Selenium could also be one of the worst supplements for diabetes.
Another 2007 study found a 50% increased risk of type 2 diabetes in people who took 200 micrograms per day. In the long term, it is possible to develop a toxic dose of selenium, having side effects such as hair loss or skin damage.
Although rarely, too large a dose could prove to be lethal. In the end, it is better not to take it without a contrary indication from your doctor.
5 /9 According to some studies, vitamin B6 will help prevent mental decline and heart disease.
Adults between the ages of 19 and 50 should consume 1.3 milligrams of vitamin B6 daily. Baked potatoes, bananas and chickpeas are also a good source. After 50 years, men should aim for daily consumption of 1.7 milligrams compared to 1.5 for women.
Some use this supplement to prevent mental decline, others to influence levels of homocysteine (an amino acid associated with heart disease), but studies are mixed.
Two reviews have consistently failed to demonstrate its cognitive benefits, and although vitamin B6 reduces homocysteine, it is unclear whether this actually prevents heart attacks.
People with certain medical conditions – such as kidney disease – may need this supplement. However, prolonged consumption of a high dose of B6 can lead to damage to the nervous system. In the end: take it if your doctor recommends it.
6 /9 Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause anaemia and dementia.
The list of foods rich in vitamin B12 includes fish, shellfish, lean beef, and fortified breakfast cereals. It is a vitamin that vegetarians and vegans tend not to have enough in their bodies.
The goal is to consume 2.4 micrograms every day. Many older adults have difficulty absorbing vitamin B12 naturally and may benefit from fortified food or supplements.
Occasionally, a deficiency – which can cause anaemia and dementia – is a problem for these people, so large doses of supplements in oral form or by injections can help them reverse the process.
However, large doses of B12 have not been proven to prevent cognitive loss and they do not stimulate energy.
The maximum tolerable intake for vitamin B12 is not defined, as there is no evidence of adverse effects at high doses. In the end: if you are 50 and over or if you are vegan or vegetarian, try to make up your daily intake of vitamin B12, either in the form of supplements or by fortified foods.
7 /9 Vitamin C would protect against colds.
Vitamin C is found in many fruits and vegetables, for example, in citrus fruits and in melons. Adult men should consume 90 milligrams per day, while women should aim for 75 milligrams. Some people take supplements to prevent colds.
A review of controlled studies has shown that taking regular vitamin C supplements can reduce the duration of symptoms, but had no effect on the number of colds a person can experience.
Smokers may need additional vitamins vitamin C. It has been shown that people who consume a lot of vitamin C, fruits and vegetables are at lower risk of developing cancer and suffering from cardiovascular disease.
However, it is not clear that supplements can help prevent or treat these diseases. Bottom line: Most people don’t need C supplements. Don’t overlook the powerful health benefits of Vitamin C.
8 /9 Vitamin E is associated with the prevention of several diseases: heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Vitamin E – found in vegetable oil, nuts and leafy green vegetables and other foods – has been linked to the prevention of heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Try to consume 15 milligrams per day from your diet. Not only have studies failed to show that vitamin E supplements would prevent heart attacks or cancer, but high doses could increase the risk of stroke.
One study found that vitamin E from food – but not supplements – would help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. In the end: don’t take supplements.
9 /9 Vitamins: zinc is said to treat cold symptoms.
The recommended daily portion found in food (including oysters, lean beef and breakfast cereals) is 11 milligrams for men and 8 milligrams for women.
It has been shown that the action of zinc – taken in the form of a lozenge or syrup, but not necessarily in the form of a supplement – could help reduce the duration and severity of cold symptoms.
However, the ideal dosage or duration of the prescription is still unknown. In the long term, high doses can weaken the immune system. In the end, your doctor may recommend this supplement for several medical conditions or if you are a vegetarian (don’t) take it, except for occasional use in the form of zinc lozenges or sprays for colds.