Three studies published this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine support the contention that multiple vitamins don’t help most people and can actually cause diseases that people taking them are trying to prevent, like cancer.
December 18, 2013
The first study found no benefit in preventing early death, heart disease or cancer. The second found that taking multivitamins did nothing to stave off cognitive decline with aging. The last study found that high-dose multivitamins didn’t help people who had had one heart attack avoid another.
“Enough is enough,” declares an editorial accompanying the studies. “Stop wasting money on vitamin and mineral supplements.”
Of course you have heard this information because medical doctors on all the major networks have played this story up all week. You might be surprised by this, but I agree, at least in part.
For over 30 years I have been saying that multiple vitamins are not worth the label printed on the bottle. You can not combine every micronutrient we know into a tablet and expect that it will have health benefits. Most multivitamins contain copper, iron, and zinc. These three minerals compete for absorption in the body and don’t belong together. In addition, the iron competes with the vitamin E as well. The B vitamin ratios are also all wrong, typically having too much thiamine (B1) and not enough riboflavin (B2) and niacinamide (B3). I had predicted that the multivitamin would be extinct by the year 2000. Wow, was I wrong!
Many supplements, including several multivitamins now add a phytofood base. This is nothing more than powdered plant food. For example, Standard Process grows 23 different crops on their organic farms in Racine, Wisconsin. They harvest and process those plant materials into a plant based supplement, using things like pea vine juice, carrots, and barley. Greens Plus and Sun Chlorella are other examples of phytofoods. This is what should have replaced the multivitamin. They provide a host of micronutrients, in very small doses as they are found in plants to supplement a good diet.
My biggest objection to the media coverage this week has been the universal leap from multivitamins are worthless to all vitamin supplements are therefore worthless. Every MD on every newscast, just like the editorial comment in the Annals of Internal Medicine, makes this absurd declaration. Just because aspirin, Aleve, and Advil kill over 16,000 people a year in the United States doesn’t make all drugs bad. In fact, it doesn’t even make aspirin, Aleve, and Advil bad. It just means they need to be used with good knowledge.
We all know the quality of our food decreases daily. Farm raised fish no longer contain omega 3 fatty acids, nor does red meat. Tomatoes are picked when they are still green and firm, and then shipped to local sites to be flooded with carbon dioxide to turn them red. Unripe tomatoes don’t bruise but they contain little of the nutrients we need on a daily basis.
A hundred years ago, if you had enough food to eat, then you got all the nutrients needed to promote health. Today, no matter how much you eat, you can not get those nutrients from the food available.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Throw away that multiple. Seek professional advice from a nutritionist with a degree in the field. Become educated yourself. There are a few givens – we all need omega 3 fatty acid supplementation. All women and many men need calcium supplementation. At least 25 percent of the population needs folic acid, B6, and/or B12 supplementation. Over 50 percent of us need to take some vitamin D. Simple laboratory tests can demonstrate these deficiencies. Have testing performed at least on a yearly basis.