Are Vitamins Worth The Money?

By Kate Merrill, WBZ-TV
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Kate Merrill is an Emmy award winning journalist for WBZ-TV News. She...
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BOSTON (CBS) – A health boost or bust? More than half of all Americans buy some form of vitamins or supplements making it a $27 billion industry. But are vitamins worth the money? Some, but not all, vitamins do pack a needed health punch. Folic Acid is key for women who are pregnant or want to get pregnant. Omega 3’s are popular for their potential fighting cardio vascular disease.

To keep bones strong: “Women, because of the increased risk of osteoporosis and bone health problems, should be particularly vigilant about getting adequate vitamin D and calcium,” says Dr. JoAnn Manson of Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Dr. Manson has been studying the effects of vitamins for years. She cautions that mega-doses of vitamins could be an unhealthy option. “I think it’s very important for the public to understand that more is not necessarily better.” For example: too much iron has been linked to cardiovascular disease. “Also, men may want to avoid higher doses of vitamin E because it was recently linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer,” says Dr. Manson.

And that expected health boost from a multi-vitamin might be more fiction than fact.

“It’s really not of much value and may be a waste of money,” explains Dr. Manson. The experts agree, if you have a balanced diet you likely don’t need a multi-vitamin. In some cases it might even be bad for your health. A recent study found an increased risk of death in older women taking too many mutli-vitamins or other supplements.

So, in the end there’s still no substitute for eating right. And be sure to talk to your doctor about what’s right or wrong for you.

Dr. JoAnn Manson is now investigating the health benefits of vitamin D3 and omega-3 fatty acids. If you’d like to participate log onto www.vitalstudy.org.

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