Students skeptical of vitamin use
Published: Monday, October 29, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 22, 2013 19:04
While a recent study said men who take multivitamins may have a lower chance of getting cancer, junior Corey Ruthberg said many students would not take a daily supplement to prevent future illness.
“We are still at the age where we think we are invincible,” Ruthberg said. “I just don’t think students care. They have other things to worry about. They worry about school work and partying, and not really about theirhealth.”
According to a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association on Oct. 17, men who take a daily multivitamin were eight percent less likely to be at risk for cancer. The study suggests thatin order to have any effect, vitamins have to be taken every day for an extended period of time.
Amy Wilcoxon, a nutrition counselor at the university, said taking vitamins can help maintain bone strength, reduce blood pressure and can possibly promote immune systemstrength. However, she said she recently attended a conference during which she heard vitamins are not necessarily good or bad. If a man maintains a healthy diet, vitamins are not essential, Wilcoxon said.
On a college campus it can be difficult for male students to this, she said. While students with unhealthy diets can benefit from taking vitamins, Wilcoxon said they are not a replacement for eating well.
“You can’t eat McDonalds everyday and then go take vitamins and expect to be healthy,” Wilcoxon said.
Junior Pat Shaw said he took multivitamins in the past but stopped when he decided they were not worth his money. For students, a product worth purchasing needs to be useful and improve their lives, he said, and he does not think vitamins meet his criteria.
“I can’t feel any physical difference from when I take them,” Shaw said.
Senior Taylor Brosious said she thinks people who take vitamins gain more mental health benefits than physical health benefits.
“People take vitamins because it makes them feel like they are getting something nutritional,” Brosious said.
Ruthberg said he thinks many people who take vitamins believe they are better able to fight off sickness. Taking vitamins contributes to a healthy mentality, he said.
Wilcoxon said there are additional ways to stay healthy rather than taking vitamins, and people are better off eating fruits and vegetables along with getting enough sleep and exercise. The antioxidants that fruit and vegetables provide are most likely what is causing this decrease in the risk of cancer in men, she said.
Most of the nutrients found in vitamins can be found in food with just as much as ease, except for vitamin D, which is harder to find, Wilcoxon said. She said some foods that do provide vitamin D include dairy products, such as milk and cheese. Vitamin D can also be absorbed from the sun.
Wilcoxon said some peoplehave a lack of vitamin D compared to other vitamins. This could be because people in the northeast wear sunscreen that can block out the sun. She said she also thinks the shortage might be due students’ lack of fresh dairy products in the dining halls.
The study has its limitations, Wilcoxon said, but taking vitamins is not detrimental to anyone’s health, especially students lacking vital nutrients in their diets.
Shaw said he thinks vitamins can be useful for some people, but he does not think most students view reducing the risk of cancer as an immediate concern. He said people in his age group smoke and don’t think about the future risks.
“I have a friend here whose idea of breakfast is a Pepsi and a cigarette,” Shaw said. “Those are the type of kids that can really benefit from taking vitamins.”