A widely debated nutrition topic is vitamin supplementation, and specifically – are multivitamins beneficial to our nutritional health, and should we be supplementing with multivitamins.
Dietary supplements are widely used, with the most popular of these being the multivitamins. Research and surveys done by the Nielsen Company show that around 40% of the population worldwide are taking these vitamin supplements, with usage in the United States being the greatest at around 54%.
And why are these so heavily used? The most common reasons are things like covering for known diet deficiencies and ensuring that a balanced diet is being eaten – the latter being the reason given the most often in the US at around 62%.
No doubt that vitamin supplements are used so often, because of the millions of dollars spent on advertising and marketing them as being necessary for nutritional health. And apparently the US as the fast food capital of the world, and the country said to have the worst health, thinks that these vitamin pills are going to make up for all of the fried foods, doughnuts, and sugar that is consumed.
A Case For Vitamin Supplementation
Now, there are reasons that more vitamins and minerals may be needed. For instance, it would be necessary in for correcting certain deficiencies in the body. And research has clearly shown that through the years mineral depletion from the soil has occurred, as the result of feet of top soil being stripped from the earth’s surface.
As well, different farming practices, including the tons of herbicides and pesticides that have been applied to the soil, have killed micro-organisms that are needed for re-establishing soil mineralization. And who knows what you are getting from genetically modified and fortified foods as one of the answers to this problem.
It has been said that if the body doesn’t have their proper minerals, then it cannot properly use its vitamins. And Linus Pauling, who is a two-time Nobel Prize winner, said: “You can trace every sickness, every disease, and every ailment to a mineral deficiency.”
So definitely there is a case for adding more vitamins to our system – but is doing so through multivitamin supplements an effective way to do this?
Are Multivitamin Supplements Effective
In light of how unhealthy many people’s diet and nutritional health is, along with some of the soil mineralization issues discussed above, it would appear that a multivitamin supplement could be very helpful.
However, there are many research studies that have shown that not only are these supplements not effective, they are actually harmful to our health. These studies include:
· Smokers supplementing with beta-carotene [a precursor to vitamin A] have higher lung cancer rates.
· People with previous heart attacks supplementing with beta-carotene having a greater risk of dying from cardiovascular disease
· A clinical trial studying the effect of vitamin E and selenium for reducing prostate cancer showed higher cancer rates from the vitamin E, and also an increased risk for diabetes from the selenium
· An aggregate of studies that included over 200,00 people who supplemented with vitamin A E had an increase in mortality
· And numerous other studies on vitamin supplementation showing an increase in the risks and occurrences for cancer, heart disease, damage of the kidneys, and bone fractures
Whole Food Multivitamin Supplements
You can see the different sides of the vitamin supplement effectiveness debate: (1) our nutritional health and body absolutely needs vitamins, and may have an additional requirement because of a deficiency or smaller amount received from the foods we eat (2) but there are studies showing that supplementing with vitamins may not be effective, and can even be harmful to our health.
That is quite a dilemma, but there is something important that must be understood; the underlying issue is the source of the vitamins being taken – from the highly regarded nutritionist, Judith DeCava:
“This is what occurs with all synthetic vitamins: the body treats them as toxins, leading to the ‘expensive urine’ of excess vitamin intake referred to frequently, since the human system via the urinary tract attempts to rid itself of the major quantity of such foreign chemicals.”
The problems shown in the studies do exist, but they also are giving a skewed viewpoint of the nutritional health benefits from vitamin supplements. The reason for this is because the studies are being done with synthetic vitamins that may be taken in mega doses and/or single isolated vitamins only.
And are bodies need the synergies from a complex of vitamins, like what is found in whole foods, and not is huge amounts that far excess the recommended upper daily limits.
There are not multiple studies showing that whole food vitamins are not effective and are hurting us – these are the vitamins that we need and are naturally intended to live on, and not some synthetic replication produced in a lab.
Also from Judith DeCava: “Separating the group of compounds in a vitamin complex can verse it from a physiological, biochemical, active micronutrient into a disabled, debilitated chemical of little or no value to living cells. The synergy is gone.”
So, just be sure that your vitamins (1) are from 100% whole foods (2) are not isolated where their synergies are lost (3) are not being taken in toxic amounts – or in other words, ‘don’t try to fool mother nature’.