Magazine article Work & Family Life

Do Supplements Work? Are They Safe?

Magazine article Work & Family Life

Do Supplements Work? Are They Safe?

Article excerpt

Supplements have become a multi-billion-dollar industry that stocks the aisles of U.S. drugstores, supermarkets and health-food stores. Many of us take supplements to get the nutrients we need, to stay healthy and to protect ourselves against heart disease, can- cer and bone fractures.

But do food supplements really work? And are they safe?

Consumer Reports on Health re- viewed 24 recent studies that found popular supplements such as vita- mins D and E and multivitamins have shown little or no benefit in preventing heart disease or cancer in healthy people.

High doses of nutrients in some supplements can also be dangerous for certain people. Plus, the quality of the myriad supplement products on the market varies widely.

Be aware that even the top- selling supplements (calcium, fish oil, vitamins B, C and K and glucosamine/chondroitin) have po- tential risk factors. Too much even of a good thing can be a problem.

Consumer Reports medical advisers and safety experts suggest the following:

* Rather than pills, focus more on getting your nutrients through a balanced diet that includes plant foods, which have been shown in clinical trials to provide a wide range of health benefits that sup- plements have been unable to match. …

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