Kasie Carlson,DOM, AP
Multivitamins, healthy or harmful?
Google this question and find different answers from different sources, yet nearly 50% of Americans are taking multivitamins, and that number goes up to 70% of Americans over 70 years old. The studies on multivitamins are not conclusive, in fact, they're downright contradictory. There are studies that have found them to be effective in some cases, but in other studies, not effective at all. What's the real story?
The vitamin industry is a 37.2 billion dollar market, unfortunately, that's where the story begins. If you find a study that says it's absolutely sure that multivitamins improve your health, that study may have come from a company that has something to gain from that claim. The jury is out on the success rate of multivitamins and the reason for that is actually quite clear, multivitamins absorb differently in different people, no one person will have the same experience.
The way that multivitamins work is that a manufacturer creates a convenient size package of 13-15 major nutrients required for optimal health, when you swallow this convenient little package, it dissolves and then absorbs into your body. The absorption is where the confusion on efficacy begins. Each human body is different and while some people have healthy, optimal absorption of nutrients, others struggle to absorb even 10% of the nutrients that they ingest. Anyone suffering with a GI disorder, take ulcerative colitis as an example, is not going to absorb nutrients as effectively as someone with a healthy GI tract. Age is also a factor, as we age, our ability to absorb nutrients decreases. What we put into our bodies matters too, those who eat healthy foods and avoid smoking and drinking alcohol, generally absorb nutrients better than those who eat a lot of processed foods and imbibe. Taking a lot of prescription drugs, suffering with obesity, smoking cigarettes, experiencing high stress levels and/or lacking quality sleep can also affect the rate of nutrient absorption.
The bioavailability of each multivitamin matters too, that's the measured percentage of the vitamin that is absorbed and higher quality vitamins have higher percentages of bioavailability. The FDA does not approve multivitamins for safety or effectiveness, this means that a company can claim that the ingredients are bioavailable, that there is a specific amount of each vitamin or mineral in their product, and they can even claim that it is effective and absolutely none of this has to be proven or true. The only way to ensure that you're getting what you pay for is to know the manufacturer and find your own way to trust what they say.
My way of building trust with vitamin, supplement and herb companies has been trial and error on my own body, getting to know the manufacturer and how they make their products, as well as nearly 20 years of recommending different products and seeing the results. This down home system of reputability has created a deep trust in specific brands, while it has also shown me which products to avoid. This is just one of many reasons that it's a good idea to talk with a licensed and experienced medical professional about what you're taking, instead of using Dr. Google.
In my experience, I have yet to see big results from multivitamins, personally or in my patients. I see tremendous results from taking specific, bioavailable nutrients, from reputable companies but as far as multivitamins go, I'm not a fan. It makes me wonder, why do so many people continue to take multivitamins? The most common answers to this question include a desire to feel more energetic, trying to be healthier, and boosting immunity.
If you're looking to achieve any of these goals, I have some recommendations for you that are proven to be more successful than taking a multivitamin.
Cardiovascular exercise, at least 3 times a week.
If you're a female, take a plant based, natural iron supplement.
If you're a vegan, make sure you're taking a methylated B12.
Ensure 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night.
Maintain a healthy weight.
Reduce or eliminate alcohol.
Eat more fiber, specifically from fruits and vegetables.
All of the above recommendations have been proven in studies time and time again to provide more energy, more optimal health, and yes, improved immunity. However, multivitamins have not been proven to help humans achieve these health goals and though it won't likely harm you to take a multivitamin, there's no proof that it's helping you either. Are multivitamins healthy or harmful? The answer is actually neither. I think your hard earned money would be better spent on healthy food or an acupuncture treatment, and I know a great place for that!
If there ARE supplements that you want to order, specific supplements (not multivitamins) are very useful and I recommend them to address specific symptoms. Here's how I save money on them, order online, direct from the manufacturer with Full Script by Wellevate, CLICK HERE TO SHOP AROUND! (you save 10% off everything when you go through my link)
If you have any questions, you can always reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org
Schedule for acupuncture online at www.calmcommunityacupuncture.com and I would love to see you soon!