Why Vitamins Are (Almost Always) a Waste of Money

Vitamins are in the middle of a glow-up. A crop of new startups have made the fusty GNC staples, dare we say it, cool: Care/of sends out monthly shipments of beautiful multicolored capsules based on a personality quiz. Ritual packs theirs into sleek clear pills that look like little lava lamps. Vitafive ships theirs out as sleekly packaged gummies.

So take your vitamins, right? Allow me to hem and haw and equivocate. There are certainly cases where people need to take them: People that don’t get enough sun might find themselves short of vitamin D—supplements can help with this, though so can eating a little more salmon or canned tuna. Pregnant women should take folic acid, period.

But one thing that’s there’s no need to equivocate about? Studies have found that vitamins taken for overall health—which generally takes the form of the daily multivitamin—are useless for the average American adult. Most of us get what we need from our diets. And even though some people don’t have an ideal diet, vitamins still haven’t been shown to make us healthier. They have no clear effect on lifespan, heart health, disease prevention, or cognitive function. At best, they don’t hurt or help us, but they can interact badly with medication or even make us feel licensed to indulge in more unhealthy behaviors.

Most vitamin sellers claim only that they’ll help “fill in the gaps” of our imperfect diets. It’s just insurance, they say. But why, in that case, would a person concerned with their health not just try and eat a little better? Good food has all the vitamins you need and is also full of helpful, but not essential, micronutrients—antioxidants and the like. (By good food, we’re talking fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains—real basic food pyramid stuff.) And while there’s nothing to indicate that vitamins improve the health of the average person, studies are clear that leveling up your diet is as close to a guaranteed way to improve your health as we’ve got.

Read the full article at GQ