1. Are there health benefits to taking a multi-vitamin? I hear conflicting information.
According to an expert at Tufts University who spoke last week at the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo, we do benefit from taking a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement. One reason you hear conflicting information is because the study designs can be flawed.
People who are in the studies and say they take a multi vitamin may take it just a few days a month. Therefore, we see no benefit since really they do not take the supplement often. Research does show a benefit in those who take the multi vitamin at least 21 days out of the month.
So for example, the Physicians’ Health Study is a well designed double blind placebo study. It shows men who take a multi vitamin have a 39% decrease in fatal heart attacks compared to men who do not take a multi.
Here is a second example. About 85% of Americans do not eat enough Vitamin E and we see that their blood level of Vitamin E are way too low. Taking 400 IUs of Vitamin E everyday reduces blindness from Macular Degeneration by 30%. So when we look at well designed studies, we do see benefits to taking a multi vitamin-mineral supplement.
There are 10 nutrients that are generally too low in the American diet.
Nutrient – Effect of Deficiency:
Vitamin A – vision defects
Vitamin C – fatigue, poor wound healing
Vitamin D – bone pain, muscle weakness
Vitamin E- Nerve & eye damage
Vitamin K – nose bleeds
Choline – Liver & muscle damage
Calcium – bone fractures
Magnesium – muscle cramps
Zinc – hair loss
Potassium – fatigue & muscle weakness
So to be at optimal health, we need to get adequate nutrients. Many of us just can’t eat enough to get what we need from food. A multi vitamin-mineral supplement and getting it at least 21 days a month can help. But remember, there is no need for super high doses.