Are MultiVitamins a Waste of Money?
Since the beginning of the year, the newspapers have been printing all kinds of bogus articles on why we shouldn’t bother taking vitamins. Let me explain the faulty logic behind these studies. First of all, the same sources have been printing concurrent articles about how the nutrition available in our fruits and vegetables is dramatically decreased due to farming methods and soil quality. Hello??!! Shouldn’t that be an indication right there that there is a need to supplement with vitamins? Everyone agrees that we all must eat more fruits and veggies. But if the vitamins and minerals in our produce aren’t as abundant as they used to be, and studies are showing that less than 15% of U.S citizens actually consume 5 fruits and veggies per day, it’s obvious that supplements are in order for the majority of people.
I’m not a supplement pusher! If it were up to me, we’d all be eating loads of fruits and vegetables from local, sustainable, organic farms where the soil is full of minerals. And I mean loads. In order to get the recommended 9 servings daily (yes, it keeps going up!) you really have to include veggies at every meal. Honestly, most of us aren’t doing that. And even if we are, the produce we’re eating probably wasn’t picked out of the Earth that same day so the nutrition has already started to diminish.
But back to these studies for a moment. Firstly, just like there are poorly designed diets and empty calorie foods, there are poorly designed multiple vitamins made from crappy ingredients. The study from The Archives of Internal Medicine never specified what form the nutrients came in: Were they food based or synthetic? Were the minerals chelated for proper aborption? Was the vitamin E given in mixed tocopherol and tocotrionol form or was it just the alpha tocopherol form? All of these things will make a difference in how effectively the individual can assimiliate the vitamin.
Second, what were the amounts of each nutrients? Were they the RDA or the ODA? The RDA is the recommended daily allowance in order to avoid disease (based on the average middle-aged healthy male). The ODA is the optimal daily allowance in order to thrive and to be at peak health. Here’s an example: the RDA for Vitamin C is the minimum amount an individual needs in order to not get scurvy. So you may be getting the bare minimum amount to not get scurvy and yet still have a compromised immune system and feel awful all of the time on the RDA for Vitamin C.
My final thought is that it definitely makes sense to take a high quality, practitioner brand of multi-vitamin. No Centrum or One-a-Day! Those truly are a waste of money. Cheap ingredients mean virtually no absorption. No need to go overboard with tons of pills, but taking at least a good multi-vitamin, extra vitamin D-3, and an omega 3 fatty acid supplement is a smart way to cover your bases. Another way to go is to make sure you’re getting enough enzymes and probiotics in your foods. That way, your digestion is at its peak and you’re going to get more out of what you eat. Brands for supplements that I like include Standard Process, Designs for Health, Karuna, Thorne, and Rainbow Light. Meeting with a knowledgeable nutritionist can help you to identify what would work best for you.