Three Popular Myths about Vitamins and Supplements

Every day we’re bombarded by information about healthy eating and nutrition from friends, family, the media and web sites. But when it comes to nutrition, misinformation is everywhere. It’s important to separate fact from fiction.

This article sets the record straight on three common myths about vitamins and supplements.

Myth:  Dietary supplements aren’t regulated.

Reality:  Dietary supplements live in the middle ground between conventional foods and drugs. This special niche is subject to a set of strict and detailed regulations under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the government agency responsible for protecting the public’s health.

Dietary supplement manufacturers are required, by law, to make sure their products are safe, meet specific quality standards, and are labeled accurately.

Because they are a subset of food, the ingredients in dietary supplements must also be made in compliance with food safety regulations as set forth in the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The FSMA’s goal is to ensure the U.S. food supply is safe through shifting the regulators’ focus to preventing contamination rather than responding to it after an occurrence.

Myth:  Vitamins, minerals and supplements are “magic bullets” for good health.

Reality:  If only there were a few pills we could take to prevent all diseases and guarantee good health for a lifetime! While a lovely dream, the reality is that wellness requires a multi-prong approach over time.

Many doctors and scientists generally agree that a wellness plan should include exercise, a well-balanced diet, vitamins and supplements, restful sleep, meaningful work, school and/or volunteering, relaxation, and enjoyable time spent with families and friends.

Vitamins, minerals and supplements may provide important benefits for certain people, but, taken alone, don’t guarantee good health.

Morgan Spurlock, author of “Don’t Eat This Book,” sums it up best: “Sorry, there’s no magic bullet. You gotta eat healthy and live healthy to be healthy and look healthy. End of story.”

Myth:  Everyone can get the nutrients they need from diet alone.

Reality:  Experts state the best way to get the nutrients we need is through food, but it’s not always possible to accomplish this – even with planning, patience and knowledge about micronutrients.

That’s why some 140 million Americans rely on vitamins and supplements to obtain the nutrients they might be missing from their meals.

For example, if following a strict vegan diet, there is the potential to develop a deficiency in Vitamin B12, which is naturally abundant in animal products. For vegans and vegetarians, or older adults who absorb the vitamin less efficiently with age, a B12 supplement can be very helpful.

CoQ10, well known as a heart-friendly nutrient, is also difficult to obtain through diet alone. (77 cups of broccoli, anyone?)

There are actually two main forms of CoQ10. Ubiquinone, also known as regular or conventional CoQ10, must be converted by our bodies into a more advanced type of CoQ10 called Ubiquinol.

In the Ubiquinol form, CoQ10 plays a critical role in making the cellular energy needed by our most important organs and muscles, like the heart.

As we age, we make less ubiquinone and have a harder time converting it into Ubiquinol. This is why many baby boomers and older adults who take a CoQ10 supplement choose one that contains Ubiquinol.