Are multivitamins beneficial to your health or a waste of money or even worse, harmful. I have mixed emotions on this, but I will say they provide a dangerous placebo that make people think they can eat junk food and solve any damage by popping a pill. Multivitamins are not a substitute for healthy eating. That’s one of the fallacies that too many people have. Not only does it not provide all the micro nutrients you’ll get from whole foods, if you’re eating junk food, you’re also filling your body with toxins and substances that can harm you. You can’t overdose on carotene, which turns into vitamin A, but you can get too much vitamin A. (There are cases where people got an orange tinge to their skin from eating too many carrots, but nothing more lethal.)
One long term study showed multivitamins had no effect on memory and some benefits for health.
One study followed 6,000 male doctors age 65. One group had a multi-vitamin and the other had a placebo that looked exactly like it. Of the two groups, there was no significant difference in memory loss over a 20 year period, but there was a small difference when it came cancer and cataracts. It lowered the risk of each by 8 to 9 percent. However, other studies show multi-vitamins can increase your risk for cancer.
There’s no difference for those suffering from heart disease.
A third study compiled the information from 27 other studies, which followed a total of 450,000 people. While they also found a small benefit for reducing the risk of cancer, they found there was no appreciable difference for heart disease. However, all the evidence from scientific studies show that you can reduce the risk of heart disease with a healthy diet and regular exercise. That not only saves money buying useless pills, it helps you stay fitter in other ways.
If you have a nutritional shortage, you should consider taking vitamins.
While taking a multivitamin for general health may be a great deal like taking antibiotics for general health, there are some people that need to do just that. If you have a nutritional shortage, which can occur even if you eat a healthy diet due to illness or a chronic condition, then a specific vitamin is beneficial. However, for those who simply take it to be on the safe side, it can actually increase the risk of a serious disease or shorten your lifespan. While some supplements are good for a specific condition, they may increase the risk for another. Vitamin A in its natural form is known to be helpful for COPD, but may increase the risk of lung cancer.
- If you’re going to supplement, consider seasoning your food more liberally. Herbs and spices are powerhouses of nutrients and won’t affect your body like manufactured vitamins.
- One of the best things you can do is drink the full glass of water if you’re taking a multivitamin. The water will do more good than the vitamin.
- One of my clients was a construction worker and built a building on a sewage dumping site used by the city in the past, before regulations stopped it. Not only were there hundreds of volunteer tomatoes, you could also see many almost completely undigested multivitamins on the ground. Many just pass through the body without digesting.
- One huge exception is the supplementation of folic acid for women of child-bearing age. It’s proven to help prevent birth defects in babies when taken early enough before the pregnancy.