Vitamins have long been praised for their ability to boost your energy level and keep your body healthy. Most of us trust that they won’t hurt us as long as they’re taken in the dosage amount described on the outside of the bottle. But the truth is that dietary supplements can be harmful, especially because not all vitamins and minerals have been studied at length, and not all of them have an official recommended dosage amount. And now scientists believe they can be responsible for side effects as short-term as nausea and vomiting and as long-term as cancer and death.
A 2017 study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology is just one in a long line of studies that has recently shown that vitamins may be doing more harm than we realize. In this study, men who regularly smoked were observed to have an even higher risk of lung cancer if they also took high doses of B6 and B12 vitamins (more than 20 mg of B6 or 55 micrograms of B12) over a long period of time than if they had not taken the supplements.
The scary part about this study is that B vitamins have previously been believed to actually reduce a person’s risk of developing cancer. Now this long-term study seems to show the opposite. Is it possible that supplements actually put us in harm’s way when we think we’re just preventing diseases?
The Mayo Clinic has determined that B6 and B12 are “likely safe” in their recommended doses, but overuse of B vitamins has been linked to lessened muscle tone, exacerbated asthma, and irregular heart rhythms, on top of the recently discovered cancer issue.
So do we recommend you immediately stop taking B vitamins, if not all other supplements as well? No. Supplements are still beneficial in many ways. We just want you to be aware that taking vitamins in excess can be dangerous so that you can make your own informed decisions (or talk to your doctor) about what and how much you should be taking. It’s also important to remember that healthy foods and sunlight are the best ways to take in vitamins. Stay healthy, friends!
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?