Multivitamins: Should You Take One?
“Consume your vitamins!” It’s good for long-living we’ve heard from a young age. There are undoubtedly some of the fuel behind the rapid growth of the nutritional supplement industry. Multivitamins alone are a four billion-dollar-a-year business.
Recently, much of the dietary health product buzz has focused on the nutritional supplement of choice for children and adults alike: daily complete multivitamins.
Multivitamin brands like Centrum tout not only the benefits of multivitamin supplements but how scientifically advanced their products are. But nutritionists and scientists don’t understand nearly as much about vitamin supplements as the makers of Centrum.
One-A-Day, and other daily complete multivitamins would have you believe. Nor do they want you to know that, as we learn more about how the body absorbs and uses vitamins. Evidence increasingly points to daily complete multivitamins being, for most people, merely a waste of money.
Before deciding to supplement your diet with a daily complete multivitamin regimen. There are three areas of multivitamin information to consider.
- The first pertains to whom specifically multivitamin supplements are a benefit, according to the latest research.
- The second, that there are little-understood differences between manufactured multivitamin supplements and natural vitamins that may be significant.
- The third, that taking medically-unsupervised daily complete multivitamins does carry some risks.
Evidence suggests that most people don’t benefit from daily complete multivitamins.
Multivitamins may be harmful in some cases
A bombshell in multivitamin supplement news has been the recent findings of a few studies. People taking a daily complete multivitamin as a nutritional supplement are no healthier than those who don’t take one, nor do they live longer.
This is particularly notable considering that even though daily complete multivitamin consumption has steadily risen in the U.S., so have the rates of all major diseases.
These findings have two possible implications for daily complete multivitamins: one, we get the vitamins and minerals we need from our regular diet, and/or manufactured multivitamin supplements are ineffective. The latter will be discussed below, but let’s address the former here.
Our bodies require small quantities of vitamins and minerals and only absorb them in very small quantities. Hence, it is not difficult to get enough necessary nutrients from a well-balanced diet. Supplements in so-called “megadoses” are pure waste, as only a minuscule portion at best can be processed.
We are only beginning to understand this area of nutrition. For example, there’s now a good indication that the human body is incapable of using more than 200 mg of vitamin C a day.
What To Doctors Recommendation ?
Do you need a daily supplement?
Nutritionists and doctors are slowly reversing the recommendation to take daily complete multivitamins. This trend, coupled with steady streams of new information. Suggests that the recommendation to take daily complete multivitamin supplements will likely fade away in the foreseeable future.
However, most medical professionals still do assert that certain people should take a daily complete multivitamin as a nutritional supplement.
- This extends to both pregnant and perimenopausal women,
- heavy smokers and alcohol drinkers,
- vegetarians, and vegans, as well as the elderly.
Dietary supplements of individual vitamins are most important to those with specific, diagnosed deficiencies. As for daily complete multivitamin supplements. They are equally important for people who do not properly absorb vitamins.
This can be a result of a medical condition or treatment. Common conditions hindering vitamin retention are malabsorption, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), kidney disease, liver disease, and Celiac Syndrome.
Treatments such as dialysis, anticonvulsant medications, and gastric bypass can all impede vitamin absorption.
It should also be noted that high doses of some vitamins can negate the effects of medications. Vitamin K, for instance, is known to neutralize certain blood thinners.
Manufactured Multivitamins DO NOT Contain Natural Vitamins.
Most people assume that store-bought daily complete multivitamins and other supplements contain natural vitamins. This is not the case. Most synthetic vitamins are created through chemical processes and are derived from coal tar or petroleum extracts. They are often made using toxic substances.
For example, artificial vitamin B12 is produced through a process of fermentation aided by cyanide. Vitamin B3 (niacin) is manufactured using ammonia and formaldehyde.
In taking a daily complete multivitamin. You are voluntarily ingesting these substances. It’s interesting to note several parallels between the complete list of substances used for manufacturing synthetic vitamins and the roster of cigarette additives.
If you’ve seen Centrum’s recent ads. You know that Centrum proudly declares its special formulation that lets various vitamins boost your body’s absorption of others. We are now only beginning to comprehend how vitamins work synergistically to maximize each other’s benefits.
This makes complete multivitamins appealing at first glance, but not only do we lack enough understanding to take advantage of multivitamin synergy. We’re also findings indications that synthetic vitamins can interfere with the absorption of other vitamins. Artificial vitamin A, for example, apparently significantly hinders vitamin E absorption.
Studies of the synergistic workings of vitamins have also led researchers to realize that vitamins naturally occur coupled with other compounds that are essential for the nutrient absorption process.
We now know, for example, that vitamin C occurs in nature with bioflavonoids, and that this subtlety is, if not a necessity, at least very important. Manufactured vitamins are completely devoid of such intricate and probably crucial natural absorption systems.
Possible health risks
Multivitamins may be harmful in some cases
As far as we know, vitamins are absorbed by the body in one of two ways:
Water-soluble vitamins pose minimal risks from high dosages. Small quantities are absorbed by the intestines, and excess is discharged from the body via urine.
Diarrhea And Headaches Problem
These water-soluble vitamins can have generally minor side-effects in too large a dose. Vitamin B6, for example, can cause a tingling sensation in the limbs and is believed to damage nerves.
“Too much vitamin C can cause diarrhea, headaches, and can interfere with the absorption of other nutrients.”
High doses over time can also lead to kidney stones. Average complete multivitamins do not contain high enough doses to cause side-effects, but many individual vitamin supplements do.
Liver and Kidney Damage
The fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) pose more significant dangers. Excess, which can be toxic, is not expelled from the body, but retained in body tissue, including the liver. These vitamins are slowly released into the body. Daily use of complete multivitamins can allow dangerous amounts of fat-soluble vitamins to accumulate.
Too much vitamin A over time can lead to blindness, liver and kidney damage, brittle bones, accelerated tumor growth, and complications during pregnancy.
It is also well-documented that new mothers who breastfeed with too much vitamin A in their system can damage their infant’s organs. An excess of vitamin D can have some of the same consequences, as well as cause muscle weakness, vomiting, and depression.
It seems that taking a daily complete multivitamin as a nutritional supplement is a poor choice. Daily complete multivitamins are an expensive habit. Especially for one with no proven benefits and some proven drawbacks.
Scientific advancement in vitamin research is continually revealing that we don’t understand enough about natural vitamins, multivitamins, and dietary supplements in general.
Claims like Centrum to be the most advanced formula sound impressive but are in reality inadequate. The insistence that everyone should take daily complete multivitamins largely comes from the companies that produce multivitamin supplements.
In contrast to recommendations concerning dietary supplements and daily complete multivitamins. There is one health mantra that has consistently held up to all medical scrutiny, and is bolstered every day by new research: eat a well-balanced diet.
This is the safest, most natural, most effective, most beneficial way to get essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Focus on that, rather than popping nutritional supplements and daily complete multivitamins.