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Multivitamins: Remedy or Rip-off?

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Multivitamins: Remedy or Rip-off?

Many people take a multivitamin because they want to ensure their body is receiving the vitamins and minerals needed to keep them healthy and strong. That could be maintaining solid bones, an alert mind, or searching for an energy boost to get through the daily grind.

With multivitamins, however, it appears there is no magic pill guaranteed to produce results expected by consumers. In fact, the jury is still out on whether multivitamins even work at all due to that industry not being strictly regulated and having no medical reports confirming efficacy. For example, a study conducted by the University of Washington reports the use of multivitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E and folate did not reduce the risk of lung cancer.

In addition, it is believed multivitamins might do more harm than good, despite they are often marketed to offer multiple benefits. The public, therefore, should become educated about multivitamins to ensure they are not potentially setting themselves up for the occurrence of adverse effects later down the road. When taking multivitamins just for the sake of it, those vitamins and minerals might exceed what the body needs and could potentially be damaging.

In a recent study, for example, it was reported that incidences of lung cancer among smokers actually increased if they used beta carotene. Another example of why the public should know what is in their multivitamin relates to a study involving women who suffered health issues and were taking multivitamins containing iron. The average person is unaware that iron should be used by those who are anemic as well as vegans, who have diets deficient in iron. Men and post-menopausal women should not take supplemental iron. Research suggests too much iron can lead to cancer and heart disease.

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An additional warning with regard to not using a multivitamin containing certain vitamins resulting in excessive amounts involves medical research linking vitamin E supplements to an increased risk of lung cancer. Mega-doses of folate, which is plentiful in most foods, could possibly promote colon cancer, so the additional folate found in multivitamins could push men, in particular, into the danger zone.

It is best for the body to absorb vitamins and minerals naturally through foods instead of using a multivitamin. A well-balanced diet might mean eliminating the dependency on multivitamins. In addition, those who are suffering from certain conditions might need to focus on managing it rather than popping a multivitamin.

If an energy boost is needed, for example, try vitamin B12. Stronger bones can be achieved with calcium. Anybody wanting a stronger immune system should consider taking zinc, and hypertension patients who need to get regulate blood pressure should consider magnesium. It is important to consult your physician before starting any type of supplemental vitamin and mineral regimen.

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1 Ali { 07.24.12 at 1:31 pm }
2 Cathy { 07.17.12 at 1:48 pm }

I will not consider this biased when you do an in depth article on how many Americans are killed every year from prescription drugs that are ‘taken as directed’.

Do your own research and see. Until then, I will take this with a grain (maybe a MOUNTAIN !!) of salt. FYI … I (and most others who opt for natural alternatives and supplements, etc.) take their health very seriously. AND have to take it in their own hands, as the care they are receiving (or NOT receiving) from their doctors is failing and inadequate.

I research thoroughly anything that I do naturally for my own health. But in MY health history (and many others I know), doctors are FAILING. I think they are great for an emergency or accident or along those lines. But for your own health, they are so set in there ways they cant see anything else. It is too bad that doctors are so against anything NOT pharmaceutical, that there is a total bias on their part. Even if (and when) the evidence is right in front of them.

“All truth passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed; Second, it is violently opposed; Third, it is accepted as self-evident.” – Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher (1788 — 1860)

Schopenhauer is not talking about logic, but historical contexts of truth discoveries. And I guess that in the case of supplements and natural alternatives, it will always be so. Although, with ‘big pharma’ and a LOT of money involved … we may (sadly) never get to the “accepted as self-evident” part.

3 Moltroub { 07.13.12 at 11:04 am }

I would prefer anyone citing research or studies, provide that information for others to look into. It’s the way I was taught to write a paper. If I couldn’t provide the author, year and text, my professors did not allow the information to be used.

4 Mary Hixson { 07.13.12 at 9:29 am }

17% more women that took vitamin supplements developed colon cancer and painful Gall and kidney stones from calcium supplements,I did my homework.ONLY take what you need.Blood test from your annual checkup will tell you what you need.

5 CeCe { 07.12.12 at 1:45 pm }

Thank you Dr. Kate and Cindy H. Your comments were quite informative and helpful.

6 Jennifer { 07.12.12 at 1:35 pm }

I will continue to take my multivitamins and eat my non commercial foods. I strongly believe in hunted and home grown foods for better health. The work put into getting food from the farm or the wild provides much needed exercise, fresh air and sunshine. These kinds of studies and articles are very damaging to the health of the nation. Always research for yourself!

7 Denise { 07.12.12 at 7:52 am }

DeVon is fulla poop – just b/c you are a “journalist” does not mean you know anything…clearly proven here

8 Ali { 07.11.12 at 9:31 pm }

I believe it’s important to take supplements with ours foods. Our soils are so deficient of nutrients these days.
I concentrate on specific vitamins like vit D3, vit C, and a good krill oil, all depending how my health is…for example if I’m coming down with a cold it’s extra vit C and zinc for a few days. I also take a multi once a week but not necessarily every day.

9 Dr. Kate { 07.11.12 at 8:05 pm }

Vitamins are essential but it is true that knowing which forms work and which do not takes a knowledgeable professional. I take exception to some of the more recent studies reporting misleading information about a poor form of supplement(like calcium carbonate)and generalizing it to all (calcium) supplementation as ineffective for bone density. The forms they studied are well known in the nutritional community as an inappropriate form for human consumption however I have documented a 9-11% increase in bone density with proper forms of calcium. Obviously the medical community is not well educated enough to take over dispensing supplements much less information.

10 cowboy-b { 07.11.12 at 12:36 pm }

I had unsightly eye matter on my eyelids every morning fom teenage to mid life . the Dr.’s had no cure. a co-worker told me to take a multi-vitamin for the problem. The matter cleared up in a few months and I continue taking the vitamin since.

11 Valerie { 07.11.12 at 12:18 pm }

IMO – taking vitamin tablets is like eating stones; they don’t breakdown in your system; therefore you don’t get any benefits. I use only powdered vitamin and supplement capsules and noticed a huge difference in my energy level and general well being. Shaklee, ProCap Labs and Natures Code are a few that have only powdered capsules; yes they are a bit more expensive but the difference is amazing.

12 Mary Demmer { 07.11.12 at 12:06 pm }

I would NEVER consider going without my vitamins, supplements, etc. I am 76 yrs old and learned the importance of vitamins from my mentor Adelle Davis (cookbook author from the 50’s). My health has been excellent throughout my life and I have more energy than women much younger, as well as no wrinkled skin. No Botox for me,.just a healthy lifestyle that includes top notch vitamins, supplements and hormone replacement therapy.

13 Debbie Lashinsky Leavelle { 07.11.12 at 11:40 am }

Cindy !!…terrific response…loved it.

14 Debbie Lashinsky Leavelle { 07.11.12 at 11:39 am }

I disagree….our foods are very deficient in vitamins..and minerals….and I for one support vitamin supplementation…a few vitamins may be harmful if “over-done”….” vitamin A” ..being one…the rest?…USE them…the benefits FAR outweigh the deficits…

15 Mary Beth { 07.11.12 at 11:28 am }

High five, Cindy H! I couldn’t agree more. DO YOUR HOMEWORK, FOLKS!

16 Susan Jane { 07.11.12 at 10:48 am }

Well, I guess it’s time for an article on what a “bad” manufactured vitamin is and what a good “healthy” vitamin is, other than just the price. I have read and heard many things however, even when I go to a “health store” and look at the vegie based and/or higher priced vitamins there are a ton of them. So, could someone possible write something up about what a “healthy/good” vitamin consists of etc. etc. so people actually get something out of all the banter?

17 Johnnie E. Elmore { 07.11.12 at 10:05 am }

I agree with Cindy H. I have been studying nutrition and physical fitness for more than 30 years, one thing I’ve learned is if you led an active lifestyle, you most definitely need to replace those vitamins and minerals thru supplementation. It has been proven that some companies use to much pressure or too strong of a chemical bond when pressing the tablets together. So, to help the digestive process, I use a pill splitter. Now I hope ya’ll know not to split any kind of gelatin based capsule. Also, Most Americans don’t get enough protein, that’s why we are so obese as a nation. Too much simple sugars or fried carbs are BAD. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago. She had the tumor removed and she is fine now. But, I started her on a work-out and supplementation program. She is 70 years old and the only medication she takes is hormones. She is in great health. I believe strongly in the right supplements. It is confusing at first but, put some study time in and you will be rewarded.

18 Cindy H { 07.11.12 at 9:12 am }

Yes, you can take too much of one nutrient or another. No, you cannot get everything you need from food these days. Even 50 years ago a study done at Cal Poly showed the soil is deficient in many trace minerals. Most of the vitamins you can buy at the grocery or drug store are cheap chemicals that are not actually vitamins. We have a major epidemic in the industrialized world of vitamin D and Vitamin B 12 deficiency and no concrete answers as to why. Yes, do your research. Then choose a more expensive, well made product over one made by a drug company (Centrum, for example) whose emergence in vitamin manufacturing is more about proving how bad they are for you and how good their drugs are.

Joey Lynn, you can’t be allergic to selenium, there is NOT enough in our soils, and most likely you are allergic to something used in the manufacturing of that product. If you are going to ask a doctor about vitamins, ask one who has had more than 2 hours of nutritional training in school. And good luck finding one. Ask a naturopath or a holistic nutritionist, NOT a dietician.

Oh, and I am a Registered Nurse who has done her own research on health and concluded our sick care industry is not the least bit concerned about our health.

And, one last thing, the shills for Big Pharma who write these stupid articles should do a modicum of research somewhere other than webmd and pharmaceutical sales ads.

19 Phyllis Hambelton { 07.11.12 at 9:12 am }

I have tried taking different vitamins, and vitamins with other supplement combinations, and I have to tell you that I have gotten sick every time. I once had forgotten to put the multi I was taking back inside the cabinet and it was sitting in direct sunlight that entire day. The next day I took my morning dosage and within 30 minutes I was violently ill. It took me 2-1/2 weeks to get over that episode. That was over a year ago and I refuse to take anymore vitamins. I get my proper nourishment from healthy food.

20 Julie Ann { 07.11.12 at 9:05 am }

I had several health issues back in the 1980 time frame…an employee (and friend) walked me through the basics of using vitamins and said I should try them for 30 days, and if they didn’t work as he believed they would, to just stop. 30+ years and I’m still going strong. I’ve also taken the time and studied herbs and homeopathic; they too have served me well. The government and those that make “studies” can play with numbers all they want…I continue to have twice the energy that people half my age. Vitamins, minerals, herbal sublements and homeopatic’s are worth looking into, studying and using.

21 Road Rock'n { 07.11.12 at 12:47 am }

I started using centrum multi-vitamins a several
Years ago..And it worked for me. I even recommended centrum silver to my neighbor who complained of being tired all the time, he thought due to his age, or the construction work he did. After about the first week, he stopped by to tell me that he was surprised about how much more energy he had. And he thanked me. Since then, I have concentrated my dosages of certain vitamins, like including extra vitamins c,d,e..
I know for a fact personally, that it has helped me immensely. And if you are somewhat like me, don’t believe everything that you read, or make a decision based on someone else’s opinion. Find out for yourself.

22 Sandy Sargent { 07.10.12 at 10:11 am }

Just want to mention, that there actually is proof in the published Landmark Study.
Like most other things, there are junk supplements and there are researched supplements.
The company I use has research of the actual in body/cell results that have been highly published in good medical journals (ie. not paid advertising!)
I’ve been using their products for 34 years, am 65, and not on medication.

23 Joey Lynn { 07.09.12 at 2:32 pm }

I have always believed that multi vitamins weren’t alway good for me especially after discovering that I was allergic to Selenium. Selemiun is found in most of the foods we eat. It is also proported to be good for the heart. But what most don’t know is that in many multi vitamins the concentration of Selenium is much higher than needed and ultimately can be harmful to one’s heart. My reaction to too much Selenium was a very painful rash, luckily this caused me to stop taking the multivitamin before I ended up damaging my heart. Reasearch thoroughly before introducing anything new into your body, talk to your doctor and read all the labels.

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