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Do you need that supplement?

September 27, 2018

In Rachel Khong’s 2017 novel “Goodbye, Vitamin,” the protagonist, Ruth, records what her aging father does: “Today you held your open hand out and I shook out the pills into it, same as every day. Fish oil. Magnesium. Vitamins D and C and A. Gingko Biloba. ‘Hello, water,’you said, holding the glass against the moonlight and shaking the pills like they were dice you were ready to roll into your other hand. ‘Goodbye, vitamin.’”

We all know that you don’t want to roll the dice with supplementation. A new review of studies from 2012 to 2017 found that multivitamins, vitamin D, calcium and vitamin C don’t magically lower your risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke or premature death for a five-year period.

However, other data show major cardiovascular benefits if you take them for 20 years. The other good news? They have substantial benefits — decreasing cancer risk; improving gut health; and aiding immune system functioning — if you use them wisely in combination with lifestyle upgrades. So ...

1. Identify your nutritional deficiencies through blood tests.

2. Recognize your nutritional gaps and fill them with foods when possible, with supplements if necessary. If you never eat fish, you’re a candidate for 900 mg of fish oil/omega-3 daily, as well as a multivitamin with doses of calcium and C close to their recommended daily allowances.

3. If you spend hours indoors, increase intake of mushrooms (packed with D) and consider taking supplements if your tests show deficiency.

4. Take supplements certified by United States Pharmacopeia, the National Science Foundation or ConsumerLab.com.

Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer and chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.

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