For years, people have relied on vitamins to help them stay healthy and strong. New research suggests that these natural supplements may not be as beneficial as we once thought, and with the potential for abuse, some people are rethinking vitamins altogether.
The study, published in the October issue of the Journal of American Medical Association, found that middle-aged men who took vitamin E supplements were 17% more likely to develop prostate cancer than those who did not take the vitamin. (1) Furthermore, a different study found a higher death rate among older women who took various vitamins than those who didn’t.
Vitamins for Health and Wellness
Still, the use of vitamins is widespread and even increasing. In 2006, Americans spent $9.6 billion on vitamins, up from $7.2 billion the year before. (1) Studies done at the 2000 Sydney Olympic games found that athletes took large amounts of vitamins and supplements. More than seven out of ten athletes took vitamin tablets, most of them high doses, with 90 athletes having vitamin injections. (2)
For some people, the task of taking vitamins to stay young and healthy becomes an addiction. While some people chase after drugs like heroin or meth that ruin the body, others chase after vitamins and health fads in an effort to prevent disease and extend their life. What many people don’t understand, however, is that even doing something that is considered healthy, if it is done at an extreme level, is harmful.
“People tend to think of vitamins as innocuous substances, almost like chicken soup — take a little and it can’t hurt,” said study author Dr. Eric Klein of the Cleveland Clinic. “The study shows that is not true. If you have normal levels, the vitamin is probably of no benefit, and if you take too much, you can be harmed.” (1)
Other researchers agree. “There should be a global warning that … excessive use of vitamins has not been proven to be beneficial and may be the opposite,” said Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society. (1)
Addicted to Taking Vitamins
Just as dieting can become an addiction and there are people addicted to exercising or eating or shopping, people get hooked on popping vitamins. Even though these supplements are not physically addicting, the act of taking them can be psychologically addicting. Someone extremely concerned with staying young and fit may go overboard when it comes to taking vitamins.
Vitamins may hold some value for staying healthy, although that fact is being disputed. The problem with taking these pills is that some people begin to rely too heavily on them and even become addicted to the act of taking them. Anytime a person is unable to stop doing something, even if it is something as seemingly harmless as taking vitamins, they may have a real addiction that will need help to overcome.