Dietary supplements would be of no use to most healthy people

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All over the world, the current pace and lifestyle makes it difficult to take the time to cook or buy fresh food for every dish. To fill nutritional gaps and maintain good health, many people are now turning to dietary supplements. Depending on the circumstances and disadvantages, these substances can be helpful, but can also be useless or even harmful to health, especially without a doctor’s prescription. A new analysis by a group of researchers from the U.S. Public Health Service (USPSTF) has shown that healthy people cannot benefit from a healthy diet with food supplements. In short, in most cases it would be a waste of money and time.

Trace elements and vitamins are definitely beneficial to health due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Contained in fresh foods (fruits, vegetables, fish, milk, etc.), they can even prevent cancer and heart disease.

Many factors, including lack of time or financial resources, can interfere with a balanced diet. In addition, quality products, such as organic products, are sometimes much more expensive than average, making it difficult to access healthy food. This trend is visible all over the world, especially in developing countries.

Therefore, some people turn to food supplements, especially those sold in pharmacies, to maintain good health. In addition, many of them tend to think that these supplements are harmless and often do without a doctor’s prescription. The toxicity and adverse effects of these substances have been particularly poorly studied compared to ‘real medicines’.

However, the use of supplements in rich countries may have other purposes, such as slimming diets, maintaining muscle tone, hair care, and so on. In the United States, for example, more than half of adults use it for a variety of reasons. Marketing budgets and the profits from selling food supplements amount to billions of dollars. 2021 the sector had sales of $ 50 billion and a marketing budget of $ 900 million.

Today, a group of experts from Northwestern University revealed that these substances, without a responsible recommendation, are of little benefit to health, but on the contrary may be harmful. For example, an excess of some vitamins can become toxic. New analyzes presented in the edition JAMA networkled to the development of new recommendations.

Use only under appropriate conditions

The reviews were performed by a panel of 16 medical experts and included studies of the use of 84 supplements. 54 of them were published after the initial USPSTF set of recommendations in 2014.

In particular, experts advise against the use of beta-carotene-based supplements for the prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Isolated or artificially synthesized, this pigment (found in red and orange fruits and vegetables) can increase mortality from heart disease and the risk of lung cancer. Vitamin E supplements are also not recommended as they would not have a clear benefit in preventing two diseases. There would also be no specific health benefits for multivitamins, although experts believe there is not enough data in the analyzes.

We have not found enough evidence to recommend or advise against the use of most vitamin and mineral supplements, including combinations such as multivitamins, for the prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer, with a few exceptions. », Explain Michael Barry, USPSTF Vice President.

Be aware that vitamins and trace elements in fruits, vegetables, milk are mixtures of complex chemical and natural fiber and other nutrient compounds that interact to provide health benefits. In addition, isolated trace elements may act differently in the body when they are not coated with other synthetic substances, such as excipients. Osteopaths also recommend preferring dairy products over tablets to get calcium.

Consuming supplements in most cases would only give a false sense of security (without a prescription). ” We find that vitamins and supplements are unfortunately not a magic bullet for healthy Americans. says Jenny Jia, lead author of the analysis and researcher in the Northwest Department of Preventive Medicine.

However, these recommendations apply only to healthy people, different from pregnant women and people with disabilities. For example, pregnant women are advised to take folic acid or vitamin B (up to 0.4-0.8 mg per day) to prevent neural tube defects. Iron is also recommended to prevent preterm birth and low birth weight, as well as to improve fetal brain development.

Source: JAMA network

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