The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has updated recommendations regarding the population’s use of vitamin and dietary supplements. According to the group’s scientists, reinforcement is necessary because several studies have already suggested that pills do not necessarily make us healthier, being useless in many cases.
According to information from Science Alert, the focus of the new guidelines is on the various products that promise to be healthy enough to, for example, prevent cardiovascular disease and cancer, the two leading causes of death in the US. However, there is no evidence to prove that regular use of vitamins offers such a benefit.
The researchers point out that the lack of evidence does not allow them to recommend or not recommend use, as more studies are needed. However, a recent finding pointed out that the use of beta-carotene, found in supplements for adults, may actually increase the risk of cancer in people who are already predisposed to the disease.
“We found that there is no benefit to taking vitamin E and that beta-carotene can be harmful because it increases the risk of lung cancer in people already at risk,” said USPSTF Vice President Michael Barry.
In short, the new note reaffirms the message that there is no real proof that these pills are any good and achieve their promised goals. On the other hand, there are also not enough studies that say they are bad (except for the recent discovery about the use of beta-carotene).
“The Task Force is not saying ‘don’t take multivitamins,'” explained clinician Jeffrey Linder, chief of general internal medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. “But there’s this idea that if this was really good for you, we’d already know.”
Nothing beats a healthy diet
According to researchers at Northwestern University, “in theory, vitamins and minerals have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that should decrease the development of cardiovascular disease and cancer”, however, nothing beats a healthy diet as a lifestyle.
“Eating fruits and vegetables is associated with decreased cardiovascular disease and cancer risk. It is reasonable to think that essential vitamins and minerals can be extracted from fruits and vegetables, packaged in a pill, and people can avoid the difficulty and cost of maintaining a balanced diet.”
Also according to experts, micronutrients isolated from other natural components of a diet do not offer the same health benefits as when they are consumed in food.
“[Os pacientes estão] wasting money and focusing on thinking there must be a magic set of pills that will keep them healthy when we should all be following evidence-based practices of healthy eating and exercise,” warned Linder.
It is worth noting that the new guidelines regarding insufficient evidence of benefit apply only to healthy adults without nutritional deficiencies. Pregnant women, who are recommended to take folic acid supplements, are not part of the group.
The new recommendations issued by the USPSTF were published in JAMA.
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