Are Vitamin Supplements Good for You?

(Last Updated On: December 11, 2019)

Are Vitamin Supplements Good for You?

Has anyone ever told you to take your vitamins? Maybe they were pills bought from the grocery store, or some weird gummy candies. Honestly, most of us have probably eaten a fair share of vitamins throughout our lives, both in pill and gummy form. Whether or not you still take vitamins is up to you. But does anyone really know if these supplements actually work? Are vitamin supplements good for you?

Can You Have Too Many Vitamins?

Generally speaking, there are things that are good for us, and we tend to think that having more of the good things is better than having only a little bit of those good things. But many of us know that’s a logical fallacy, and it is possible to have too much of a good thing.

Yes, you need vitamins and iron and whatnot to survive. Not having enough iron in your blood is a great path to iron deficiency anemia after all. On the opposite side of the spectrum, having too much iron in the blood leads to hemochromatosis. That’s a great way to destroy your liver, among other things. 

Overdosing on vitamin A can increase pressure between the skull and the brain among other things. Just a heads up–pressure on the brain is generally seen to be a bad thing.

We’re not going to go into the overdose symptoms of all the vitamins you can find at your local CVS, because that would take forever. But suffice to say that, yes, it is possible to overdose on vitamins, minerals, and the like. Heck, you can even over do it on water.

A Quick Pause

Before you swear off supplements for the rest of your life, let’s take a step back. You’d have to take a lot of iron to exhibit symptoms of secondary hemochromatosis. Like, you would have a pretty good idea that you’re doing something unhealthy to yourself. The same goes for most other supplements, assuming they have vitamins and whatnot actually in them in the first place. 

So no need to change your daily routines unless you’re already suffering from a condition that makes you more susceptible to potential overdoses. 

Do You Need Vitamin Supplements Anyway?

The average person probably doesn’t need vitamin supplements, despite what advertisements may say.

As a quick aside, can we all acknowledge how strange it is to see medical products advertised on YouTube and stuff? Because it’s weird. We’d trust a medical professional telling us what to take over an unskippable video ad any day of the week, but maybe that’s just us?

Anyway, if you’re a relatively healthy person with a balanced diet, you probably aren’t in desperate need of supplements. According to this study, taking some dietary supplements (they conclude mostly iron) can actually pose a health risk rather than a benefit. At least within the narrow scope of their study, since their sample was specifically older women (average age 62).

Alternatively though, we couldn’t find anything that said taking extra supplements on top of a healthy diet actually gave you an advantage in life. So at worst, you’re hurting yourself; at best, you’re probably just wasting money. 

Generally speaking, though, we’re dealing with commercial products. Because of that, you’re going to have to overdo it a lot with your vitamin gummies to poison yourself. Like we said earlier, you’ll probably know you’re doing something unhealthy on the way. If it was that easy to poison yourself with stuff you’re getting from Bartell’s, they probably wouldn’t be selling them. 

That was not a free pass to chug vitamins like Skittles. Definitely don’t take more than the bottle says.

Vitamin Supplements & the FDA

You’ve probably heard of that handy-dandy organization known as the US Food and Drug Association (FDA). They’re the ones that do their best to make sure the things you’re putting into your body are safe–especially when it comes to corporations.

So it may seem like a great thing at first that the FDA acknowledges dietary supplements and vitamins as beneficial to one’s health! Except for when they don’t, because the FDA also acknowledges the whole overdose thing we talked about earlier. 

It turns out, the FDA can’t review vitamins and supplements before they’re on the market. Which means many products (let’s be real, the FDA can’t get to everything) you can buy never have been (and likely never will be) reviewed by the FDA. Whoever made the supplement can cram whatever the heck they want into the pill. Including, but not limited to, either not having the vitamins at all, or being straight useless.

On Vitamins Being Straight Useless

According to this study published in 2019 by the National Library of Medicine, there’s no actual link between supplements and “mortality benefits”. Basically, vitamins don’t make it any less likely that you’ll die.

If you read the full text of that study, you’ll find that there are some limitations in the data. That’s kind of the nature of research in this field, since the researchers had to rely on self-reported data. And come on, the last time your teacher let you “self report” we both know you inflated your performance by at least some margin. 

Anyway, as of 2019, it appears that vitamin supplements are, on the whole, straight useless for the average person. 

So, What Should You Do?

The easiest thing to do would be to just cool it with the supplements. Unless a medical professional said you should take them, you probably don’t need any. At best, you’re just wasting money on some weird pills like we said earlier. At worst, you could actually be harming yourself, depending on the supplement you’re taking. 

If you’re reading things about supplements, we’ll pass on a recommendation from the FDA. Trust 3rd parties more than the label itself. There’s no FDA regulation that says a product can’t say “no side effects.” Ergo, 99% of the time something claiming to be better than a prescription probably isn’t better. 

This is probably just a good life lesson, if the person giving you information has something to gain from giving you that information, you may want to seek an alternate opinion. 

Back to vitamins, if you think you need them, we advise asking your doctor or something before you start sinking money into them. 

Need more vitamins? Make sure you know which ones are what here.



About Kyler 705 Articles
Kyler is a content writer at Sporcle living in Seattle, and is currently studying at the University of Washington School of Law. He's been writing for Sporcle since 2019; sometimes the blog is an excellent platform to answer random personal questions he has about the world. Most of his free time is spent drinking black coffee like water.