Science-- there's something for everyone

Friday, May 20, 2011

Hidden dangers of dietary supplements

Although the case for using dietary supplements has become more controversial, many people still subscribe to the practice. Putting aside the issue of how effective supplements are, they may also have unexpected drawbacks. In particular, Wen-Bin Chiou of National Sun Yat-Sen University, Chao-Chin Yang of National Kaohsiung University of Hospitality and Tourism, and Chin-Sheng Wan of Southern Taiwan University have found one additional problem with supplements. They may encourage people to make riskier lifestyle choices.

The researchers divided volunteers into two groups. Group A was instructed to take what they thought was a daily multivitamin, but was in fact a placebo. Group B was told they would be taking a placebo. In other words, everyone was taking the same exact thing, which was nothing. The people in group A exercised less and ate more poorly than the people in group B. It appears that the people who thought they were getting dietary supplements took less care with their health, perhaps because they assumed that any deficiencies would be compensated for by the supplements.