Vitamin Truths and Lies

Are you still relying on vitamins to keep you healthy? Learn the truth about which supplements help and which ones you can toss. Plus, find out the 25 foods that you can eat to get your vitamins. (From Reader's Digest - April 2010)

Once upon a time, you believed in the tooth fairy. You counted on the stability of housing prices and depended on bankers to be, well, dependable. And you figured that taking vitamins was good for you. Oh, it's painful when another myth gets shattered. Recent research suggests that a daily multi is a waste of money for most people—and there's growing evidence that some other old standbys may even hurt your health. Here's what you need to know.

Myth: A multivitamin can make up for a bad diet
An insurance policy in a pill? If only it were so. Last year, researchers published new findings from the Women's Health Initiative, a long-term study of more than 160,000 midlife women. The data showed that multivitamin-takers are no healthier than those who don't pop the pills, at least when it comes to the big diseases—cancer, heart disease, stroke. "Even women with poor diets weren't helped by taking a multivitamin," says study author Marian Neuhouser, PhD, in the cancer prevention program at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, in Seattle. More...

Myth: Vitamin C is a cold fighter
In the 1970s, Nobel laureate Linus Pauling popularized the idea that vitamin C could prevent colds. Today, drugstores are full of vitamin C–based remedies. Studies say: Buyer, beware. In 2007, researchers analyzed a raft of studies going back several decades and involving more than 11,000 subjects to arrive at a disappointing conclusion: Vitamin C didn't ward off colds, except among marathoners, skiers, and soldiers on subarctic exercises. More...

Myth: Vitamin pills can prevent heart disease
Talk about exciting ideas—the notion that vitamin supplements might help lower the toll of some of our most damaging chronic diseases turned a sleepy area of research into a sizzling-hot one. These high hopes came in part from the observation that vitamin-takers were less likely to develop heart disease. Even at the time, researchers knew the finding might just reflect what's called the healthy user effect—meaning that vitamin devotees are more likely to exercise, eat right, and resist the temptations of tobacco and other bad habits. But it was also possible that antioxidant vitamins like C, E, and beta-carotene could prevent heart disease by reducing the buildup of artery-clogging plaque. B vitamins were promising, too, because folate, B6, and B12 help break down the amino acid homocysteine—and high levels of homocysteine have been linked to heart disease. Unfortunately, none of those hopes have panned out. Instead, the AHA offers some familiar advice: Eat a varied diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. More...

Myth: Taking vitamins can protect against cancer

Researchers know that unstable molecules called free radicals can damage your cells' DNA, upping the risk of cancer. They also know that antioxidants can stabilize free radicals, theoretically making them much less dangerous. So why not take some extra antioxidants to protect yourself against cancer? Because research so far has shown no good comes from popping such pills. More...

Myth: Hey, it can't hurt
The old thinking went something like this—sure, vitamin pills might not help you, but they can't hurt either. However, a series of large-scale studies has turned this thinking on its head, says Demetrius Albanes, MD, a nutritional epidemiologist at the National Cancer Institute. Vitamins are safe when you get them in food, but in pill form, they can act more like a drug, Albanes says—with the potential for unexpected and sometimes dangerous effects. More...

Truth: A pill that's worth taking
As studies have eroded the hopes placed in most vitamin supplements, one pill is looking better and better. Research suggests that vitamin D protects against a long list of ills: Men with adequate levels of D have about half the risk of heart attack as men who are deficient. And getting enough D appears to lower the risk of at least half a dozen cancers; indeed, epidemiologist Cedric Garland, MD, at the University of California, San Diego, believes that if Americans got sufficient amounts of vitamin D, 50,000 cases of colorectal cancer could be prevented each year. But many—perhaps most—Americans fall short, according to research by epidemiologist Adit Ginde, MD, at the University of Colorado, Denver. Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin: You make it when sunlight hits your skin. Yet thanks to sunscreen and workaholic (or TV-aholic) habits, most people don't make enough. More...

So here's the Reader's Digest Version of the truth about vitamins: Eat right, and supplement with vitamin D. That's a no-brainer coupled with a great bet—and that's no lie.   

For more on this vexing subject:

Nutrients, Not Just Vitamins, Are Key to Anti-Aging

Are Natural Cures Bad for Your Health? (Health magazine, Nov. 2010)

Could a Daily Vitamin Pill Cause Skin Cancer? (Daily Mail, UK, Sept. 2010)

Do Multi-Vitamins Cause Breast Cancer? (Dr. David Katz)

Remember: Juice Plus+ is whole food based nutrition in a capsule or chewable; Juice Plus+ is not a vitamin supplement. Juice Plus+ is also backed by solid research with 25 published studies proving that it works.

To fully understand the difference between traditional vitamin/mineral supplements and whole food (including Juice Plus+) please watch the video featuring Dr. Richard DuBois below.