Immune-Boosting Myths Busted (Page 5)

Vitamin Water

Myth 4. Vitamin-Packed Drinks Will Keep You From Getting Sick

Drinks like Airborne and Vitaminwater “Defense” sound appealing, but really aren’t worth it. Here’s why: As with many label claims, Airborne’s current one begins with a kernel of truth: vitamins A, C, E, zinc and selenium—nutrients in the supplement—are among the vitamins and minerals that our immune systems need to function efficiently. According to a 2002 report in the British Journal of Nutrition, deficiencies of any of these nutrients (or of vitamins B6 or B12, folic acid, copper or iron) can depress immunity. But the key word is deficiency; most of us—save for smokers, pregnant women, breastfeeding women and the elderly—meet our needs for these nutrients with the foods we eat. (If you fall into any of those higher-risk categories, talk with your doctor before taking a supplement.) And more isn’t better. Excess amounts of many nutrients are potentially harmful, and it’s all too easy to go overboard. Just one tablet of Airborne contains 1,667 percent of the daily recommended value (DRV) for vitamin C. Vitaminwater’s “Defense” drink, the label of which encourages you to stay healthy so you can use your sick days to “not go in” doesn’t deliver the mega-high doses of nutrients that Airborne does. (A 20-ounce bottle of the water contains 150 percent of the DRV of vitamin C and 25 percent for four B vitamins and zinc.) But it delivers 125 calories per bottle.

Instead of vitamin- and mineral-packed drinks, a daily multivitamin/mineral supplement might come in handy this time of year. Don’t risk your health or waste your money on anything beyond that.

Next Slideshow: 5 Immunity-Boosting Foods & Nutrients »

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