Multivitamins: Helpful or Hoax?

If you are like most people, you take vitamins and supplements at certain times during your day. On the surface, swallowing a multivitamin every day makes sense. We all want to stay healthy and we're concerned that our meals do not provide enough nutrition. But the more you learn about multivitamins, the less likely you might be to blindly swear by them. Could you be wasting your money? It really depends on a few things...

Multivitamin or Placebo?

Some studies show that some vitamins may be no better than a placebo when it comes to preventing diseases. This is certainly not to say that all multivitamins are no better than a placebo. Certain types of multivitamins clearly provide proven health benefits, such as folic acid for expecting mothers. Data shows that a daily "one pill does all" multivitamin doesn't prevent heart issues, guard against memory loss, or boost longevity. In fact, study results published in Annals of Internal Medicine show that multivitamins might not be as effective as people had hoped.

Many doctors and researchers claim that you can get your essential vitamins and minerals from a healthy diet; but that's the issue for millions of Americans, isn't it - how healthy is our diet? And if it's not healthy enough should we take supplements? Some would claim that even a "below average" supplement is better than no supplement if you're not getting what you need from your diet.

False Sense of Security

Taking inferior nutritional supplements could give you a false sense of security, which could actually lead to vitamin deficiency issues. You might think you are giving your body what it needs with the supplements you take. However, if you are taking supplements that have little or no nutritional value (unbeknownst to you) it makes you think you’re healthier. As a result, you are less likely to make healthy eating choices because you feel like you’ve gotten your daily nutrients in a few pills. You might grab a piece of carrot cake instead of a few carrots, thinking to yourself, “I already got 100% of my Vitamin A today from my morning multivitamin.” Those who advocate for nutritional supplements believe that the answer is to make sure your supplements are high quality; it pays to do the research on different manufacturers. This isn't the time to skimp.

Reduced Potency Over Time

Many people aren't aware of this, but multivitamins can lose their potency as time progresses. If you buy multivitamins in bulk when taking advantage of sales, they will likely sit in your  cabinet for months or years. As each day passes, multivitamins become less effective. When multivitamins reach a certain age it might make more sense to throw them away and buy new ones than to pass them through your system with little or no nutritional benefit.

Consider Your Nutritional Intake

There are a few studies, however, that conflict with these findings. Keep in mind that if you are taking a vitamin on your doctor’s advice for a nutritional deficiency or medical condition, you should not stop taking it. However, if you are otherwise healthy and have a good, wholesome diet, you may not need to supplement.

Do you eat diversely colored foods that are rich in vitamins and nutrients? If so, you might not obtain much benefit from a daily multivitamin. Though nutritionists agree it is best to obtain your nutrition from food sources, a reputable multivitamin can provide missing nutrients in the event that your dietary intake is lacking. Make a concerted effort to consume healthy, unprocessed food and you can get most or all of your vitamins and nutrients the way that nature intended. Understandably, that's not so easy for everyone to do.

If you take supplements do some research to find the more trusted manufacturers of nutritional supplements. This might not be the time to look for the greatest bargains, you're looking for quality. This might be a good place to start.

Let us know your position on this topic: Do you take supplements? Why or why not? If you do take them, which ones do you take and why? Have you learned about any recommended manufacturers? Please post your comments and experiences below, they could help many others as this is a topic that many find hard to navigate.

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What Is Your Experience?

11/27/2016 8:00:00 AM
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Comments
Yes, I take about 5 different supplements a day recommended b my holistic doctor because I'm a surviving breast cancer patient of 9.5 years now. I take 1000mg Vitiamin C, Ten Mushroom Formula b EcoNugenics, 5mg Biotin, probotic, Perque Liva Guard Forte (liver detoxification) and a compounded RX - LDN 4.5mg (Low Dose Naltrexone). I've been off and on on several other supplements over the years. But we've moved around a lot and when I see a new holistic doctor, they usually take me off one or the other and add a new one to my routine. I'm doing great and try to eat as much fresh vegetables a day - all kinds as well as organic foods and NO sugars, beef or pork and I excercise daily.
Posted by pam
i take a store brand multivitamin. is that ok compared to name brands?
Posted by amy
Excellent points, Johanna. The article is good, but fails to address food quality, even if your diet is healthy. Our food is grown in chemically toxic soil & air. Worse, most Americans are eating fast food / processed foods. Evidence the growing numbers of obesity and diabetes.

Chronic stress is like Ms. Pacman eating folate dots! Up your Vit C intake; stop by your local clinic for a B-12 injection when your body is dragging.

It's a fact that, as we age, our bodies become less capable of absorbing nutrients through our digestive tract. We may not be getting enough of what we need, even when we're doing everything right.

And what about the WAY we eat? Many people eat on the go, standing or moving about while "multitasking", eating in the car, etc. Food needs to be chewed s l o w l y. Completely. The saliva helps break down the nutrients, delivering more benefits. Smaller pieces of food is easier on our stomachs, relieving many unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms many people experience after eating. Properly chewed food prevents digestional overwork, keeping more blood in our extremities, eliminating that post-meal crash & nap.

Our food should fuel and energize us.

Thanks for the SCM Test tip, Johanna. I'm due for yearly labs and will definitely inquire.
Posted by Sophie Marie
Eating a balanced diet, exercising and taking a multivitamin is simply not enough. Our food is so often depleted of nutritional value and our stressful lifestyles deplete us further. Because each person's body is unique and complex, an individualized approach is the only way to guarantee optimal nutritional levels. The best way to find out whether you are nutrient deficient at the cellular level is through specialized affordable testing, like SpectraCell's Micronutrient Test. It measures the function of 35 nutritients including vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and amino acids within our white blood cells. This gives you an idea of what your nutritional status has been for the last 4-6 months, unlike the simple red blood levels that get measured in basic lab work. So many of our symptoms, heath complaints, and chronic conditions are directly linked to nutrient depletion. We owe it to ourselves to use this tool for understanding and correcting our nutritional imbalances. Supplementation is often needed, and re-testing every 6 months let's you know if it's working.
Posted by Johanna Finney
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