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Vitamin supplements: friend or foe?

Vitamin and mineral supplements are essential nutrients that should be consumed every day, and most people get enough of them by eating a variety of healthy, colorful foods.

Medically reviewed by Endo-Urologist Malek Meskawi on 08/08/2022

Indeed, in a society like ours, it is rare to suffer from a vitamin deficiency unless you have a particular health problem, or have a need for a supplement according to a particular condition. For example:

  • Folic acid in pregnant women
  • Iron in people who suffer from anemia due to lack of iron
  • A combination of vitamin D with calcium in men treated with hormone therapy for prostate cancer
  • A deficiency, therefore a depleted vitamin reserve, medically confirmed
  • A very active person or athlete who practices a sport intensively

However, studies do not show benefits of taking vitamin supplements in healthy people who eat well.

Health Canada recommends that Canadians get all of their vitamin and mineral needs from their diet, by eating a variety of minimally processed foods from all food groups. It is preferable that vitamins and minerals come from the diet, because then they are accompanied by other elements essential to health, such as fiber and protein. That said…

The myth of harmlessness to health is still persistent

Taken in too large amounts, for too long, or for the wrong reasons, vitamin and mineral supplements can have sometimes serious side effects. They may decrease or increase the effect of many prescription or over-the-counter medications or be contraindicated if you have certain health conditions.

The risk of overdose is particularly high in young children and the elderly because their organs do not always work to their full potential.

Also, be aware that in Canada and the United States, these types of supplements – vitamins and minerals, herbal medicines, or any other natural health product (NHP) – are not subject to the same drug requirements. analysis and approval as prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

One should therefore not blindly trust the claims of the manufacturers. Also, the ingredients in a supplement vary a lot from brand to brand, as does the quality. Ingredients and amounts may not match what is written on the label. And the price?

In conclusion – Talk to your doctor or pharmacist

In fact, the easiest way to meet your daily needs is to get your vitamins through the food and drink you consume.

And before getting out your credit or debit card, talk to your doctor or pharmacist first. Otherwise, contact a nutritionist. List all the vitamins, minerals, and other supplements you take or plan to buy, especially if you’re battling prostate cancer.


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