Diet-NutritionFolic AcidPregnancySeleniumVitamins

Does it make sense to take dietary supplements?

Dr. Jamaluddin Moloo is Chief of the Department of Medicine at Palmetto Health Richland Memorial Hospital in Columbia, South Carolina. He has reviewed the evidence and finds it lacking.

Here are the highlights for beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium supplementation.

In a reanalysis of the results from 68 studies of more than 230,000 patients, taking beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, or selenium supplementation, in combination or individually was not associated with any reduction in death compared to taking placebo.

When the 47 best-designed studies were reexamined, a significant increase in the risk of death was noted with supplemental beta-carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E.

The bottom line?
The author concludes, “Patients should be told that little evidence supports the use of supplements other than for several specific indications (eg, folic acid for pregnancy). The best advice is to return to mother’s directive — eat your fruits and vegetables.

1/1/08 20:21 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.