Vitamins and minerals are substances in your diet that are essential for good health. Taking vitamins and minerals as supplements, however, are a different matter. Here are the facts behind some of the myths.

Myth (1) – Just as good as food

While they’re manufactured to the exact same chemical structure, supplements don’t work as well for your body as naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals in food.

Food is a source of not just vitamins and minerals, but also other substances such as phytochemicals in plants, which all work together, whereas supplements tend to work in isolation.

Myth (2) – Compensate for a poor diet

Certain people may need supplements for medical reasons, such as folate for pregnant women to prevent abnormalities in the foetus. However a vitamin and mineral supplement should not be seen as a way to compensate if you have a poor diet. A healthy, balanced diet is more nutritious for the reasons explained above.

Myth (3) – Cure and prevent medical conditions

The research shows that you only need a small amount of vitamins and minerals to help maintain good health and large amounts usually don’t act like a medicine to cure or prevent medical conditions.

For example, vitamin C doesn’t reduce the chances of catching the common cold, though it may shorten how long it lasts and the severity of your symptoms. Similarly, vitamin E doesn’t prevent you from developing heart disease.

Myth (4) – Harmless

Taking very high dosages of vitamins such as A, B6, D, E and K can be toxic. Unhealthy interactions can also occur such as large amounts of zinc can reduce the absorption of iron and copper.

For more information

Speak to your doctor and visit the Dieticians Association of Australia website.

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