It's 6 am, the alarm goes off, and you start your daily routine: Get out of bed, brush your teeth, eat breakfast, and pop your multivitamin. Sound familiar? According to a 2016 study, about 52% of Americans take dietary supplements. But what does that supplement actually do? Not much. A 2013 editorial in the Annals of Internal Medicine was blisteringly direct about supplements. "The message is simple: Most supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death, their use is not justified, and they should be avoided." The piece summarized the state of research on vitamin and mineral supplements, showing that the majority are completely ineffective and some, such as beta-carotene, vitamin E, and high doses of vitamin A, actually increase your chances of dying prematurely. The appeal of supplements is understandable, since it's hard to find time to plan meals based on vitamin intake. The good news is that for most of us, supplementation isn't necessary. In 2012, the CDC reported that less than 10% of the US population has even a single vitamin deficiency; if you eat a varied diet, you probably already get everything you need. Still, not all supplements are useless: there is scientific evidence to support taking vitamin B12 (especially for vegetarians and vegans), folic acid (in pregnant women), and vitamin D. Rethinking your vitamin intake? Keep learning about which ones are worth it (and which ones aren't) in the videos below, curated from around the web.
Vitamins Might Not Be Worth Your Time (Or Money)
What do they do to your body, anyway?
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Key Facts In This Video
A vitamin is a molecule our bodies need to help us carry out certain reactions and behaviors. 00:45
Not all vitamins are always useful, like vitamin C, which works when consumed naturally but not in pill form. 02:59
Some extra vitamin doses can actually increase the risks to events it is supposed to be protecting, such as cancer or heart disease. 03:29
Can I Overdose On Vitamin D?
The backstory behind the vitamin that is actually worth taking.
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The Cheapest Source of Vitamin B12
It's a supplement that scientists say vegetarians and vegans could really benefit from.