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Supplements vs. exercise for heart disease and cancer: The "vitamins" in your legs

Supplements vs. exercise for heart disease and cancer: The ''vitamins'' in your legs

Dietary supplements are wildly popular in America. According to the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 40% of all American adults take one or more.

It's easy to see why supplements are so popular. Because few are regulated by the FDA, manufacturers and retailers can assert many benefits and advertise them aggressively. It's a good strategy, bringing more than $20 billion a year to the supplement industry. But is it good for your health? Are there other ways to gain the benefits claimed for supplements?

Diet is certainly one alternative; it is clear that a good diet can reduce the risk of many serious diseases. Most scientists agree that extra vitamins in pills or powders add little, if anything, to a well-balanced diet that adheres to current guidelines. Another alternative is at hand (or, perhaps, at foot). In fact, regular exercise is a proven way to achieve many of the benefits claimed for vitamins and other supplements, even for people who also eat properly.

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