Harvard Women's Health Watch

Vitamin and mineral supplements: Do you need them?

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A recent review casts doubt on supplements for disease prevention. Are they still worth taking?

Following the news on supplements is a little like trying to keep up with a fast-paced game of ping-pong. One study finds supplements improve health, and then another questions the benefit of taking them. Back and forth they go.

In November 2013, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force—a panel of disease prevention experts—conducted a comprehensive review of the research published over the past decade. They concluded there isn't enough evidence to support the use of vitamin and mineral supplements for preventing heart disease, cancer, or deaths from these diseases in healthy adults. An editorial in the December 17, 2013 Annals of Internal Medicine even urged consumers to "stop wasting money on vitamin and mineral supplements." But does this close the book on supplements for disease prevention?

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