Myth: Anyone could benefit from a multivitaminRobsPhoto/Shutterstock
Vitamin supplements came into vogue in the early 1900s, when it was difficult or impossible for most people to get a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables year-round. Back then, vitamin-deficiency diseases weren’t unheard-of: the bowed legs and deformed ribs of rickets (caused by a severe shortage of vitamin D) or the skin problems and mental confusion of pellagra (caused by a lack of the B vitamin niacin). But these days, you’re extremely unlikely to be seriously deficient if you eat an average American diet, if only because many packaged foods are vitamin-enriched. (Still, watch out for these silent signs of a vitamin deficiency.) Sure, most of us could do with a couple more daily servings of produce, but a multi doesn’t do a good job at substituting for those. “Multivitamins have maybe two dozen ingredients—but plants have hundreds of other useful compounds,” says Marian Neuhouser, PhD, of the cancer prevention program at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington. “If you just take a multivitamin, you’re missing lots of compounds that may be providing benefits.” Don’t miss these other 8 vitamins that are useless, if not dangerous.
Myth: A multivitamin can make up for a bad dietEkaterina Markelova/Shutterstock
An insurance policy in a pill? If only it were so. One study in the Archives of Internal Medicine looked at 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 Dr. Neuhouser. Here are 12 more vitamin mistakes you didn’t know you were making.