10 Supplements That Do Not Work as Advertised


Multivitamins May Not Have Any Benefits

Millions of people take daily multivitamins, but they may do just as well to skip them.   © serggod/iStock/Thinkstock
Millions of people take daily multivitamins, but they may do just as well to skip them. © serggod/iStock/Thinkstock

Nearly 40 percent of American adults take a daily multivitamin, and more than 50 percent of American adults take some sort of dietary supplement (the most popular is a daily calcium supplement) [source: Fetters]. While evidence suggests that calcium may actually have a positive impact on your health, there doesn't seem to be any evidence any other ingredient in your multivitamin does anything positive for you. At all. And in addition to that bombshell, some research suggests those of us who take vitamins may die sooner than our friends who skip the supplements. Yes, you read that correctly; in 2011 The Iowa Women's Health Study found multivitamins didn't offer any health benefits to the women taking them -- and also found an association between taking dietary supplements and a shortened lifespan [source: Mursu]. It's entirely possible that this is due to people having a false sense of security about their health; taking a multivitamin may make them less likely to take care of themselves in other ways.

The best thing to do is ditch the daily vitamins and instead make sure you eat a healthy, balanced diet.

Author's Note: 10 Supplements That Do Not Work as Advertised

As a person who tries to remember to take her multivitamin (and maybe a few other supplements here and there), I was really curious what I'd find when I started looking into the pros and cons of dietary supplements. Should we bother taking them? Overwhelmingly the research for this article points to, well, maybe but maybe not -- at least not a multivitamin. (Did you see that part about the shortened lifespan?) Unless you're taking a supplement because you have a legitimate deficiency, such as iron supplementation for iron-deficiency anemia, you'd be best off with a healthy, balanced diet and exercise rather than a does-it-or-doesn't-it cure-all pill.

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The Case for and Against Taking Fish Oil Pills

The Case for and Against Taking Fish Oil Pills

Regularly popping a fish oil supplement was once considered beneficial for cardiovascular health. A big 2018 meta-study challenges that assumption.