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‘Stop wasting money on vitamin, mineral and multivitamin supplements’

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The United States Preventive Services Task Force, in an updated guidelines recently released in the journal, JAMA, said vitamin, mineral and multivitamin supplements are not likely to protect people from cancer, heart disease or overall mortality.

The task force reviewed 84 studies testing vitamins in almost 700,000 people, including 52 new studies on the topic since its last recommendation in 2014.

Yet the conclusion remained the same as that of 2014, ‘If you are a healthy, non-pregnant adult, there is insufficient evidence of any benefits to extending one’s life in taking vitamin E, vitamin D, calcium, vitamin A, beta carotene, vitamin B3, vitamin B6, vitamin C and selenium.’

The task force, however, said there is enough evidence to recommend against the use of beta carotene supplements, which the body turns into vitamin A, to prevent cardiovascular disease or cancer because of a possible increased risk of mortality, cardiovascular mortality, and lung cancer.

“Nor should people take vitamin E because it probably has no net benefit in reducing mortality, cardiovascular disease, or cancer,” the task force said.

The chief of general internal medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, USA, Dr. Jeffrey Linder, in an accompanying editorial, said, “Lifestyle counseling to prevent chronic diseases in patients should continue to focus on evidence-based approaches, including balanced diets that are high in fruits and vegetables and physical activity.

“Take, for example, the Mediterranean diet. Eating the Mediterranean way, which focuses on a plant-based diet, physical activity and social engagement, can reduce the risk for high cholesterol, dementia, memory loss, depression and breast cancer, numerous studies found.

“Meals from the sunny Mediterranean region have also been linked to weight loss, stronger bones, a healthier heart and longer life.”

“Another evidence-based intervention, the DASH diet, which stands for “dietary approaches to stop hypertension.”

“The diet successfully reduces high blood pressure, studies have shown. Both the Mediterranean and DASH diets avoid processed foods and focus on fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, whole grains, nuts and seeds.

“Rather than focusing money, time, and attention on supplements, it would be better to emphasize lower-risk, higher-benefit activities … following a healthful diet, getting exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding smoking,” Linder and his colleagues wrote.

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