Vitamin supplements could lead to risky health behaviors

Vitamin use does
not mean better health

Supplement use linked to hedonistic behavior

Findings from researchers suggest people who use vitamin supplements tend to engage in risky health behaviors. 

In a series of experiments, investigators from Taiwan found vitamins and supplements may make people feel invulnerable to health problems, leading to poor food choices and less exercise. 

The study findings show vitamin supplements might work against people who were found to overindulge in hedonistic behaviors when taking supplements that they believe promoted good health.

According to Wen-Bin Chiou of National Sun Yat-Sen University, "After reviewing the literature of the prevalence of dietary supplement use, it seemed to show that use of dietary supplements is increasing, but it does not appear to be correlated with improved public health.”

He adds, "People who rely on dietary supplement use for health protection may pay a hidden price, the curse of licensed self-indulgence.”

In the study, the investigators gave everyone a placebo. Group A was instructed to take a fake multivitamin and group B was told they were given a dummy pill.

Less exercise, more buffets for supplement users

The group who thought they were taking the vitamin supplement were less inclined to exercise and tended to engage in risky health behaviors like choosing a buffet over a healthy organic meal. 

The group who thought they were taking a vitamin pill also tended to walk less.

Chiou says the message is don’t rely on vitamin supplements for good health. He recommends remaining vigilant because vitamin use can work against you.

People who take vitamins may feel invulnerable to health problems, leading to poor decisions when it comes to choosing healthy food and regular exercise.

Association for Psychological Science

Image credit: Morgue File