Is Taking Vitamins and Supplements All That Good for You?

Imagine popping more than three dozen pills daily.

Now, imagine doing that even if the pills are not prescribed.

One Georgia couple takes 40 supplements each day.

Do they really help people stay healthy?

Every morning, Dr. Frank Pinto pops not one supplement, not two, not three, not four, but 25 different pills, from alpha lipoic acid to zinc.

Dr. Pinto is a dermatologist.

His wife, Rosemary, is a family therapist. “It is really important for me to stay young,” she says. “I'm six years older than my husband, so I feel a responsibility to stay young, physically, emotionally and mentally. I know there's no way to halt the aging process. It's going to happen. But people like me and rosemary, we want to age gracefully.”

They try to eat well.

They exercise.

When afternoon rolls around, they take more pills.

All told, the Pintos each swallow more than 40 different supplements every day.

You could say it is a leap of faith.

The federal government says Americans spend several billion dollars a year on dietary supplements.

Yet, the national institute on aging does not specifically recommend any supplement.

Here are just two examples, from the Journal of the American Medical Association:

Does ginkgo help memory? Probably not.

Echinacea to fight colds? It Doesn't work.

You have heard of antioxidants.

People who eat lots of fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants are less likely to get cancer, and they tend to live longer.

One recent study found that taking antioxidants, like vitamin A and E, in pill form might actually be harmful.

Studies have shown that a good diet, not pills, is the safest and best way to stay healthy.

Frank Pinto agrees. “If you do not eat properly and you do not get any exercise, taking all the supplements is kind of a waste.”

But he is not about to give up the pills.

Remember that in addition to vitamins and minerals, foods also contain hundreds of naturally occurring substances that can help protect your health.

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