3 Things People Get Completely Wrong About Vitamin Supplements

To really protect your health, it’s all about the big picture.

The interest in research on supplements and cancer began 20 years ago, when scientists observed that people who ate more fruits and vegetables tended to have less cancer. Researchers wanted to find out if taking supplemental doses of vitamins and minerals would further reduce the chances of developing various forms of this disease.

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Scrutiny has also been directed at supplements recently for findings about products being mislabeled or even tainted. So what does all of this mean? Should you chuck your supplements? I don’t think so—at least not across the board—but there are common misconceptions that may translate into incurring more risks than benefits. Here are three biggies I see, and my advice about how to be sure the supplements you take are right for you.

quicklist: 1 category: title: Supplements aren’t a fix for a bad diet url: text: Optimal nutrition is multifaceted. It involves getting the right balance and amounts of protein, good fats, healthy carbs, fiber, fluid, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and timing is also key. Simply popping a multivitamin or other supplements can’t possibly make up for an inconsistent diet or unhealthy habits, like regularly skipping meals or overeating. To really protect your health, it’s all about the big picture. Here’s an analogy I sometimes use with clients: if your car’s engine is overheating and the transmission is shot, pumping in premium gas won’t make it run smoothly.

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This article originally appeared on Health.com.