The weird reason we think vitamins are good for us

Decades of research has failed to find any substantial evidence that vitamin supplements do any significant good. Vitamins are micro-nutrients that we only need in minute quantities – as long as you have a relatively varied diet, you’ll get everything you need from the food you eat.

In the mid-1900’s, Linus Pauling became one of the world’s first “celebrity scientists” for the work he did in chemistry and activism, but in the early 1970’s he became obsessed with the idea of living forever.

He began claiming that mega-doses of Vitamin C could cure the common cold, prolong your life, and prevent cancer, and because he was a respected public figure the media trusted him and helped him spread his ideas.

However, since then peer-reviewed and placebo-controlled scientific studies have consistently shown that vitamin supplements don’t prevent disease. In fact, in some cases they may increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and mortality. Several have been linked with an increase in certain cancers, for example, while others have been tied to a rise in the risk of kidney stones.

In 1994 Pauling died from cancer, the very disease he claimed his vitamin megadoses would prevent.

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