What’s your take on multivitamins and other supplements?

iStockphoto | ThinkStock

iStockphoto | ThinkStock

There are eight hours in your shift–sometimes 12. Sometimes even more than that. As much as nurses would like to consistently eat well during work hours, make sure they’ve slept enough and make time for exercise, many find there’s just not enough time in the day to make sure all those things get done.

With life and work always seeming to get more and more hectic, it can seem like an easy fix us to turn to multivitamins and supplements to help maintain proper nutrition. But a few new studies suggest that these may not be the best way to go.

In fact, the debate on the usefulness of multivitamins and other supplements has been ongoing for years, and there’s never been a definitive answer. One new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine makes its opinion clear:

“The message is simple: Most supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death, their use is not justified, and they should be avoided,” said an editorial that accompanied the study, according to USA Today. This statement was signed by two researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, a British researcher and one of the journal’s senior editors.

An unrelated study that was published in the same medical journal found that multivitamins taken by heart attack survivors had no effect on the progression of heart disease.

However, studies have also found no harm in standard multivitamins, either directly or indirectly (through causing those who take them to eat worse or otherwise neglect their health).

On a related note, an editorial in The New York Times warns of the risks of giving vitamins and supplements to children. The piece is written by Paul A. Offit, chief of the division of infectious disease at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and Sarah Erush, clinical manager in the pharmacy department at the same hospital.

The two point out that dietary supplements are not regulated as drugs by the FDA, and therefore not all of the reactions of specific drugs may be known. Additionally, the authors of the editorial point out that this presents even more of a problem when parents don’t reveal all the supplements their children are taking when they bring them to the hospital.

Of course, there are many on the other side who still endorse the use of vitamins and supplements, and it is unclear if the real benefit and/or risks of every supplement will ever be known. But as we focus on your health, we want to know what you think. Do you take supplements? Have you seen in adverse effects in yourself, your family or your patients? Let us know your stories in the comments below!


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