Multivitamins are seen by many as a good way to fill in “gaps” in your nutritional needs. They help us get vitamins and nutrients that we may lack in our regular diet.
This is an industry that rakes in over $12 billion dollars per year. Half of all American adults take a multivitamin regularly. But, are these vitamins really doing what they say?
Let’s take a look at some pros and cons of multivitamins.
Multivitamins are said to compensate for areas where our diet is lacking. In theory, they should improve health and prevent disease.
According to Healthcare Weekly, women who took multivitamins for three years reduced their risk of heart disease by 35%.
Because it is so difficult to get all of the proper amounts of vitamins and nutrients every day, taking a multivitamin will make it much easier for you to get what your body needs.
Some vitamins are easy to find in our fruits and vegetables. However, there are some vitamins that will be very hard for even the healthiest of eaters to get an adequate amount of in their regular diet.
A good example of this is vitamin D. You can often find “vitamin D fortified” foods in your supermarket. This vitamin does not naturally occur in these items, but it has been added to help you reach your daily amount. It is recommended that you get between 1,000 and 2,000 IU (internal units) every day. But, a glass of vitamin D fortified orange juice, for example, only contains 100 IU per cup.
Unless you’re drinking 10-20 glasses of orange juice every day (which you definitely should not do), it’s going to be difficult to hit your vitamin D levels with a regular diet. This is where the multivitamin would help.
When your body is lacking in certain vitamins, it becomes more susceptible to serious illnesses and diseases. For example, if you don’t get enough folic acid in your diet, you may be at a higher risk for colon cancer or cardiovascular disease.
In a less direct way, vitamins can also help prevent weight-related illnesses, like heart disease. Some vitamins help to boost your metabolism and keep it on track so that you can lose weight more easily. This isn’t like those miracle drugs you see in cheap internet ads. This is a natural supplement to help you lose weight along with a healthy diet and exercise.
There are a number of other benefits that you can receive from multivitamins, but I’m just going to touch on them so that you can do further research on your own:
- Promote eye health
- Lower the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
- Improve Digestion
- Prevent Strokes
- Aid Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Lower the risk of breast cancer
- Strengthen bones
- Promote healthy pregnancy
- And more
Though there are some positive aspects of regular multivitamin usage, they are not for everyone. You shouldn’t run to the supermarket and stock up on every vitamin on the shelf.
You should talk to your doctor about it. Find out if you are deficient in any dietary areas and ask which vitamins would be useful for you. Find out what dosage you should take and ask if there are any medications or health conditions that may create a risk with vitamin usage.
A big problem with multivitamins is that people use it to self-medicate. They treat multivitamins like a magic pill that gives them a free pass to eat whatever they want and never exercise. But, a lot of studies have shown that long-term vitamin use does not help everyone. In fact, overuse of some vitamins can actually be very harmful.
In a study performed by the French Supplémentation en Vitamines et Minéraux Antioxydants, about 13,000 people took either a placebo or a multivitamin on a regular basis for seven and a half years. These multivitamins contained vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, selenium, and zinc. After the study, researchers found a reduced risk of mortality and cancer in men but no difference in women.
This just goes to show that positive results are not absolute. Multivitamins affect different people in different ways. You can’t rely on a vitamin 100% to cover your body’s nutritional needs or prevent illness.
In more extreme cases, overuse of certain vitamins can be harmful. In a study done on Finnish smokers, participants took beta-carotene supplements every day for five to eight years. These participants showed an 18% higher chance of developing lung cancer than those not taking the supplement.
Another test was performed on smokers, former smokers, and people exposed to asbestos. The test ran for 4 years and showed a whopping 28% increase in instances of lung cancer.
It is advised for smokers and former smokers alike to avoid supplements with large amounts of vitamin A and beta-carotene entirely to reduce the risk of lung cancer.
Taking multivitamins and supplements is not always a good move when it comes to your health. Make sure to do your research and find out if you have any existing conditions or medications that may cause negative side effects when exposed to large amounts of any vitamin supplement.
There are some uses of multivitamins and supplements that are widely supported by the medical science community. However, it is important to be cautious. Just because you find it in a health food store doesn’t mean it’s going to be good for you.
Do your research and consult a doctor before you implement any supplements into your diet regularly.
This article is contributed by Codrin Arsene from Digital Authority Partners, a healthcare marketing agency