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Vitamin 101 6 things you should know about multivitamins before taking them

From boosting energy and appetite, to warding off cold and allergies, there are a dozen and one reasons why we've been encouraged to embrace vitamins from early on.

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For the longest time, we've been told of the enormous benefits of vitamins.

From boosting energy and appetite, to warding off cold and allergies, there are a dozen and one reasons why we've been encouraged to embrace vitamins from early on.

But how much do we really know about vitamins and what they do for the body?

Here are a few more reasons why you should embark on a vitamin regimen if you're not already on one.


  • Multivitamins could help prevent cancer: According to the Physicians' Health Study (PHS II) clinical trial of vitamin supplements, it was found that after 10 years, multivitamin users had a slightly reduced risk of developing cancer. Experts however urged that the result should not be overplayed and  healthy diet is still important.

  • They DON'T prevent heart disease: While vitamins could work their magic on diet pattern, they however are no guarantee for the prevention of heart disease. This was also shown in the PS II study.

  • Too many vitamins CAN make one sick: According to Dr. Bruce Bistrian, chief of clinical nutrition at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, exceeding the Recommended Daily Amount (RDA) can prove hazardous to health. For instance, if you exceed the limit for vitamin C, your body will most likely excrete the surplus. But consuming too much vitamin A may negatively affect your bone health, causing blood clot and overstimulation of the immune system. Also in pregnant women it can lead to birth defects. It's therefore important to consult a doctor to determine a vitamin's RDA before embarking on a regimen.

  • Beware of mixing vitamins/medications: According to the FDA, the active ingredients in many dietary supplements can have “strong biological effects” and in certain situations could be unsafe. Thus, combining supplements with prescription and/or over-the-counter medications or replacing prescriptions medications with supplements and taking too much of a certain supplement could lead to a life-threatening situation.

  • If you're a health buff, then you may not need vitamin supplements: At the end of the day, fruits/vegetables are still the best source of vitamins so if you already maintain a healthy diet rich in fruits, veggies and proteins then you may not need vitamin supplements as most likely won't gain any benefits from them.

  • When buying vitamins, look out for...inexpensive preparations that contain 100%of the Daily Value for vitamin D, vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and folic acid. This is according to HMS experts. They also say buyers should be skeptical of any product labeled with health claims printed next to the phrase, “This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.” According to the experts, supplement manufacturers are not allowed to claim their products can prevent, treat or cure specific diseases. Finally, it's important to note that a daily multivitamin is more like an insurance policy. It should only serve as a supplement for a nutritious, balanced diet.




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