It’s estimated that around half of all adults in the US take some sort of vitamin or supplement on a regular basis.
While these products can help address certain issues, this prevalence may be fueled by misinformation and misconceptions.
Here are a few of the most common myths about supplements and vitamins.
Myth #1 : Everyone Should Take Multivitamins
Multivitamins combine various vitamins and minerals packaged together in one pill.
They’re often marketed as a way to ensure that you’re getting all the nutrients you need.
But the truth is, most people don’t need to take a multivitamin.
If you’re eating a balanced diet, you’re likely already getting all the necessary vitamins and minerals.
Supplements are generally only recommended for people who are incapable of getting some of their nutrition from whole foods or who have diagnosed deficiencies.
Myth #2 : More Vitamins Can Prevent Illness
Vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, vitamin D, iron, and zinc play a vital role in maintaining a healthy immune system.
If you are deficient in these nutrients, you may be more susceptible to catching infections and less likely to recover efficiently and effectively.
But this basic principle has led many people to believe that taking nutritional supplements can help boost their immunity and prevent them from getting sick.
Supplements can help you restore inadequate nutrient levels to a healthy level, but clinical studies have concluded that higher-than-normal levels won’t offer any additional benefits.
If you are already well-nourished, taking more of a specific nutrient probably won’t make you any less likely to get sick. Excess intake from supplements can sometimes create additional risks and harms.
Myth #3 : “Natural” Supplements Are Always Safer
Many supplements are marketed as “natural” or “herbal” products, which could give the impression that they’re safe for everyone to take.
“They are grown from the earth, unlike those pharmaceuticals that are manufactured in a lab,” the thinking goes.
While some supplements are completely safe, others can have serious side effects. Just because something is labeled as “natural” doesn’t mean it’s automatically safe for everyone. And it’s not necessarily safer than products that are man-made.
Many of these herbal supplements have not been thoroughly tested in clinical trials, so their safety and effectiveness are not well-established. They are also not regulated by the FDA in the same way that medications are, so safety and quality cannot be guaranteed.
Myth #4 : Supplements Can Replace Conventional Medicines
Many common ailments and chronic illnesses have been linked to inadequate nutrition.
But you can still avoid visiting a doctor or neglecting other forms of treatment in favor of supplements.
Supplements can help address specific nutrient deficiencies that may be contributing to your health problems, but they are not a replacement or alternative for conventional medical care.
If you are taking medication for a chronic illness, do not stop taking it or change your dosage without first speaking to your doctor.
Myth #5 : Supplements Can Be Safely Added To Your Treatment Plan
Complementary medicine is a term used to describe treatment strategies that are tried in addition to, rather than instead of, conventional medical care.
In the case of supplements, this would mean taking them in addition to medications you are taking instead of a replacement.
Adding a supplement to your existing treatment plan may seem harmless to improve your health, but it can be very dangerous.
Many supplements are known to interact with prescribed medications, and some may even exacerbate the condition you are trying to treat.