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U.S. Task Force Discourages Vitamin E, Beta-Carotene Use

Update Date: Feb 25, 2014 10:59 AM EST
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The vitamin and supplements industry has suffered blows as more evidence revealed that taking multivitamins and other products do not help improve one's health. Recently, experts published a study that stated that multivitamins are a waste of money because they neither harm nor help one's health. In a new report written by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, the experts recommended people to avoid taking vitamin E and beta-carotene supplements in order to prevent heart disease or cancer.

"Cardiovascular disease and cancer have a significant health impact in America, and we all want to find ways to prevent these diseases," said Task Force chair Virginia Moyer. "However, we found that there is not enough evidence to determine whether taking single or paired nutrients or a multivitamin helps to prevent cardiovascular disease or cancer."

The task force has decided to update the 2003 guidelines by adding vitamin E to beta-carotene on the list of supplements that do not help prevent cardiovascular disease or cancer. The task force stated that the updated guidelines were based on a systematic review of previous studies that concluded that vitamin E did not provide healthful benefits while beta-carotene supplements could end up doing more harm than good.

"Beta-carotene can be more harmful because it increases the risk of lung cancer in people who are already at increased risk for the disease," Michael LeFevre, the Task Force's co-chair, said according to Medical Xpress.

The Task Force stated that its recommendations are for healthy adults who do not have any medical concerns. For people who might need to take supplements, they should discuss their own medical risks with their doctors. For example, pregnant women are recommended to take folic acid and older individuals are recommended to take vitamin D.

"If followed, not only will this likely save consumers money, it encourages more study on associations between dietary supplements and adverse outcomes," Victoria Richards, an assistant professor of medical sciences at the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University said.

The report was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The Task Force is made up of an independent panel of medical experts.

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