Dietary supplements are trendy: Every second German swallows vitamin pills – only three make sense
Especially in the cold season, many Germans take vitamin supplements. Demand is high, a new survey shows. Which pills really work – and which ones you can save yourself.
Almost 75 percent of Germans use dietary supplements. This is now shown by a study by the statistics platform
, for which more than 5,000 people were interviewed as part of the “Global Consumer Survey”. are particularly widespread
In third place are proteins, which every fifth person eats.
This also confirms that the pills, powders and capsules are popular
Federal Statistical Office
. According to this, over 12 percent more food supplements were produced last year than in the previous year.
These three supplements are useful
However, it is disputed how much the income actually brings. According to experts, only three micronutrients are really useful:
1. Vitamin D
The “sun vitamin” is important for bone health because it promotes the storage of calcium. However, it is rarely found in food.
The body can produce vitamin D itself in the skin if it gets enough sunlight. Ten minutes a day outside is enough for this, even if the sky is overcast. No problem in light summer clothing, but on cold winter days the vitamin D supply becomes tight. Especially since many physicians consider a high daily dose to be sensible.
2. Folic acid
Folate is the only vitamin for which the dietary supply in Germany is rather insufficient. As a “baby vitamin” it is particularly important for pregnant women and women who are get pregnant want. Folic acid is one of the B vitamins and is essential for blood formation, cell division and all growth processes in general.
Folic acid deficiency can have dramatic consequences for the unborn child: malformations, especially in the spine and spinal cord, the so-called neural tube defect.
Although there is a significant amount of folic acid in sprouts, green vegetables and legumes, this rarely covers the average daily requirement, and certainly not the greatly increased requirement during pregnancy. So: Pills allowed to necessary.
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3. Vitamin B12
Not all people need this vitamin as a dietary supplement. However, for the growing group of vegans, B12 pills are necessary because it is the only vitamin that the completely animal-free diet cannot cover with plant-based foods. As an important building block for cell division, blood formation and the function of the nervous system, B12 is indispensable in the daily vitamin supply.
You can find out in which quantities the preparations are safe for most people in the
List of the BfR for the maximum amounts of vitamins and minerals in food supplements
. In general, however, you should clarify with your doctor before taking certain pre-existing conditions which of the preparations make sense for you.
Which vitamin pills you can do without
Apart from the exceptions mentioned, you can, however, do without vitamins in tablet form – provided that a doctor has not demonstrated a demonstrable deficiency in your blood count.
Here are the five most commonly consumed but not needed by healthy people:
1. Multivitamin tablets
Everything they contain can provide a balanced diet. A large US study of 39,000 older women showed a few years ago that the pill users had a greater risk of death than the comparison group that did not take any vitamin pills. In addition, in 2018 a meta-analysis of numerous studies on vitamin supplementation showed that they have no positive effect on cardiovascular diseases.
2. Vitamin A
The cell protection vitamins A, C and E form the most important antioxidants, also known as cell protection vitamins. As radical scavengers, the vitamins fulfill an important task in the organism. Because free radicals are jointly responsible for aging processes and the development of diseases.
Fruit, vegetables and (good) oil actually provide sufficient amounts of these cell protection vitamins. As a dietary supplement, especially in high doses, the vitamins get bad marks from experts: specifically, a long-term study found an increase in lung cancer among smokers who
Vitamin A or the precursor beta-carotene
revenue. It is also known that even a slight daily overdose of the fat-soluble vitamin A can damage the liver and bones.
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3. Vitamin C
cannot protect against diseases – not even against colds, as some believe. Studies in recent decades have repeatedly tried to prove the positive influence on the immune system. On the other hand, it has been shown that high daily doses can lead to kidney stones. Supplementation without a proven deficiency therefore makes no sense.
4. Vitamin E
For vitamin E
the previously suspected cancer protection could never be proven. In fact, a study of 36,000 male participants showed an increased risk of prostate cancer when they swallowed vitamin E capsules. Long-term high dosages can lead to disturbances in digestion, muscle strength or blood clotting. Vitamin E capsules are therefore not recommended.
5. Vitamin B3
For a long time, niacin (nicotinic acid) had the reputation of having a protective effect on the heart and brain. Here, too, a large study with 25,000 heart patients showed that long-term use did not lead to fewer heart attacks or strokes. Compared to the placebo group, however, the B3 users developed liver problems and internal bleeding more frequently.
In the best-case scenario, taking vitamins unnecessarily will produce “expensive urine,” explains nutritionist Wiebke Franz from the Hesse consumer advice center. In the worst case, you damage your health. The authorities do not test food supplements – such as vitamin preparations – for their safety and quality before they are placed on the market, as they do with pharmaceuticals. So it comes with these pills and powders again and again to contamination.