Vitamin pills ‘can do you more harm than good’

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  • They are a waste of money and do little to boost health

    Multivitamins taken by millions of ‘worried well’ are a waste of money and may be doing more harm than good, an expert has said.

    For instance, those who take fish oils as well as multivitamins could be raising their odds of brittle bones in later years because they are consuming too much vitamin A.

    Brian Ratcliffe, a former government adviser on nutrition, accused the £600million-a-year vitamin pill industry of preying on the fears and finances of people who are essentially healthy.

    He said: ‘’A lot of people are simply wasting their money and fuelling an industry that is to some extent exploiting their fears.’

    The professor, a former adviser to the Food Standards Agency, is not the first to raise concern about the tablets taken by 40 per cent of women and 30 per cent of men a day.

    Last year, a U.S. analysis of 67 studies said vitamins A and E may shorten life, not extend it. Other studies linked the two vitamins to increased risk of cancer. Even relatively small doses of vitamin A can be toxic, said the professor.

    Too much vitamin A can cause nausea and headaches in the short term and raise the risk of osteoporosis in later years, the British Science Festival in Guildford heard.

    On the other hand, high doses of vitamin C are not harmful – but up to three-quarters pass straight through the body. Even small doses may be of little benefit. A recent study found the vitamin C tablets taken by millions to ward off colds have little effect at preventing the sniffles and only marginally shorten their duration.


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