You or someone you know may take vitamin and mineral supplements. However, three papers published in the Annals of Medicine may give you pause; the studies addressed the ineffectiveness of vitamin and mineral supplements in preventing and slowing down the progression of chronic diseases. I found many issues with these studies; overall, they conclude that supplements have no clear role in medicine, and they support the notion that supplements can be harmful.

Actually, no one can unequivocally state that supplements are bad for your health. Let’s look at one of the most common, well-known forms of supplementing in medicine. For years, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology has recommended prenatal vitamins for the prevention of neurologic abnormalities in newborns. Another important area in your body that benefits from supplements is your gut because the digestive tract is a repository of microorganisms that is responsible for enhancing immunity. Certain supplements called probiotics help to restore the balance of microbes in your gut, resulting in reduced inflammation and improved absorbability of nutrients.

Now let’s look at my specialty—cancer. Many vitamins and minerals have been shown in studies to prevent or slow the progression of certain cancers. In my practice, I use pharmaceutical-grade supplements, and I don’t believe in chelation therapy. Chelation therapy is used to treat individuals with heavy metal poisoning (e.g. lead) by injecting a person with a specific chemical (EDTA), which binds to heavy metals. The problem is that the chemical also chelates to good minerals—not just bad minerals. For people with heavy metal toxicity, I prefer to use intravenous glutathione, which is a stable, natural antioxidant in the body that supports detoxification enzymes. In my experience, intravenous glutathione removes toxins from the body without adverse consequences.

Supplements are Good for Your Health

Besides the proven health benefits of supplements in medicine, let’s take a brief look at why vitamins and minerals are good for you. Simply put, your cells need nutrients in order to work. Some nutrients your body makes on its own, while other nutrients come from your diet. Even the nutrients your body synthesizes come from the foods that you eat; however, if you’re like most people, eating a balanced diet can be quite challenging. This brings me to my point—your diet alone doesn’t always provide you with the essential nutrients that your body needs. This is where multivitamins and minerals can help. Supplements, when you’re taking the right ones, are quite beneficial to your health.

Choosing the Right Supplements

Besides speaking with your doctor, here are a few things that you can do to pick the right supplements:

  1. Research products: It’s important that you do your research before using any supplements. The Internet is a great tool that can help you easily separate the helpful products from the harmful ones. Just be sure to look for information on reputable websites—don’t simply rely on the manufacturer’s information.
  1. Look up ingredients: For example, plant-based supplements contain healthy antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances; however, you must be certain that the ingredients contained in the bottle are from the parts of the plant that are known to be most helpful. If the specific part of the plant that contains the nutrient is not the one listed in the label, this may affect the efficacy of the supplement. You should also determine whether supplements are natural or synthetic, because synthetic supplements may not be readily absorbed.
  1. Remember that quantity matters: While the quality of a supplement plays a role in potency and absorbability, the dosage of the supplement will determine whether it’s having a therapeutic effect. So check the labels out to ensure that you’re getting the recommended daily amount of key vitamins and minerals.
  1. Skip “miracle” supplements: If supplements claim to cure a disease or purport to keep you healthy by preventing many diseases, avoid them! If you come across any supplement that sounds too good to be true and positions itself as a magic pill, don’t fall for it.

Figuring out whether to use supplements can be confusing and overwhelming because there is a barrage of good and bad information available to consumers. I do not agree with the findings of the studies published because supplements do have a place in medicine. In fact, in my new book, The Gene Therapy Plan, I mention supplements that can help you fend off certain health conditions such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and premature aging. I recommend supplements that are either pharmaceutical-grade nutrients (e.g., grapeseed extract) or naturally derived from foods (e.g., black raspberry powder). Multivitamins and minerals can have a positive effect on health, too. And by following these steps and consulting with a medical professional, you’ve taken a healthy step in the right direction.

Does Long-Term Multivitamin Supplementation Help Cognitive Function in Men? Annals of internal medicine. 2013;159(12):I-24.
Fortmann SP, Burda BU, Senger CA, Lin JS, Whitlock EP. Vitamin and mineral supplements in the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer: an updated systematic evidence review for the US Preventive Services Task Force. Annals of internal medicine. 2013;159(12):824-834-834.
High-Dose Multivitamins and Minerals After a Heart Attack. Annals of internal medicine. 2013;159(12):I-20.