Do You Take Multi-Vitamins? Do They Work?

Just like Supplements, you have to be vigilant when shopping for Multi-Vitamins. Many manufacturers put a variety of supplements in the dose and you may not be aware of it. Vitamin is a huge market, think about all the manufacturers have to do to grab your attention. To me the louder they shout the more I run away. I go to the manufactures site for information and Amazon for reviews and probably buy.

One of the top-level searches I request is Vegan and Bunny certified. You probably won’t find the Bunny certification unless they make other products that are certified. Putting Vegan in any search, even make-up I use Vegan to sort out the masses.

I would do a few searches on the top-selling multi-vitamin in 2022. That will hopefully pull up the most recent reviews. Another secret weapon is to go to Amazon. You can search and go to manufacturers’ websites or go straight for reviews on Amazon. You can ask the Pharmacist if the multivitamin has an effect on your other prescriptions. You might not get the complete answer but you will probably get a referral for a trusted brand.

Millions of Americans take multivitamins and other supplements, but convincing scientific evidence of any true health benefit is lacking, experts say. Now a new study explores why people continue to consume nutritional supplements.

“Most people were using supplements because they believe it will improve their health, but we really don’t know whether that’s true,” said study lead author Regan Bailey, a nutritional epidemiologist in the Office of Dietary Supplements at the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

“Moreover, the vast majority of supplements used in the U.S. are based on personal choice, not because they are recommended by health care professionals,” she added.

Nearly half of U.S. adults use dietary supplements, Bailey noted, and supplements are a $30-billion-a-year business.

“People have very strong beliefs about these products and I don’t know where they are getting their information,” Bailey said. “It’s not from the doctors. The majority of scientific data available do not support the role of dietary supplements for improving health or preventing of disease.”

Should I Take a Daily Multivitamin?

Nearly half of adults in the U.S. and 70% of older adults ages 71+ take a vitamin; about one-third of them use a comprehensive multivitamin pill. [1] But is this truly a necessity?

There are certainly diseases caused by a lack of specific nutrients in the diet. Classic examples include scurvy (from a lack of vitamin C), beri-beri (vitamin B1), pellagra (vitamin B3), and rickets (vitamin D). But these conditions are rare in the U.S. and other developed countries where there is generally more access to a wide range of foods, some of which are fortified with vitamins. Individual vitamin supplementation may also be essential in certain cases, such as a deficiency caused by long-term poor nutrition or malabsorption caused by the body’s digestive system not functioning properly.

Who May be at Risk for a Nutrient Deficiency?

For those who eat a healthful diet, a multivitamin may have little or no benefit. A diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, good protein sources, and healthful fats should provide most of the nutrients needed for good health. But not everyone manages to eat a healthful diet. When it comes to specific vitamins and minerals, some Americans get less than adequate amounts, according to criteria set by the National Academy of Medicine. For example, more than 90% of Americans get less than the Estimated Average Requirement for vitamin D and vitamin E from food sources alone. [2]

Certain groups are at higher risk for a nutrient deficiency:

  • Older age. The elderly are at risk for poor food intake for various reasons: difficulty chewing and swallowing food, experiencing unpleasant taste changes caused by multiple medications, or isolation and loneliness that can depress appetite. They also have trouble absorbing vitamin B12 from food. The National Academy of Medicine, in fact, recommends that people over the age of 50 eat foods fortified with vitamin B12 or take vitamin B12 pills that are better absorbed than from food sources. [3]
  • Pregnancy. Getting enough folate, a B vitamin, is especially important for women who may become pregnant, since adequate folate can help lower the risk of having a baby with spina bifida or anencephaly. For the folate to be effective, it must be taken in the first few weeks of conception, often before a woman knows she is pregnant. Yet in the U.S., half of all pregnancies are unplanned. That’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that all women of childbearing age (ages 15 to 45) consume 600 micrograms a day of folic acid. [3] This amount and other important nutrients for pregnancy—iron, calcium, vitamin D, and DHA—are available in a prenatal multivitamin.
  • Malabsorption conditions. Any condition that interferes with normal digestion can increase the risk of poor absorption of one or several nutrients. Examples:
    • Diseases like celiac, ulcerative colitis, or cystic fibrosis.
    • Surgeries that remove parts of digestive organs such as having a gastric bypass for weight loss or a Whipple procedure that involves many digestive organs.
    • Illnesses that cause excess vomiting or diarrhea can prevent nutrients from being absorbed.
    • Alcoholism can prevent nutrients, including several B vitamins and vitamin C, from being absorbed.
  • Certain medications. Some diuretics commonly prescribed to lower blood pressure can deplete the body’s stores of magnesium, potassium, and calcium. Proton pump inhibitors prescribed for acid reflux and heartburn can prevent the absorption of vitamin B12 and possibly calcium and magnesium. Levodopa and carbidopa prescribed for Parkinson’s disease can reduce the absorption of B vitamins including folate, B6, and B12.

Which Multivitamin Should I Choose? 

Multivitamins come in various forms (tablets, capsules, liquids, powders) and are packaged as a specific combination of nutrients (B-complex, calcium with vitamin D) or as a comprehensive multivitamin.

Supplements are a multibillion-dollar industry, with endless designer labels of brands from which to choose. However, an expensive brand name is not necessary as even standard generic brands will deliver results. Look for one that contains the Recommended Daily Allowance amounts and that bears the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) seal of approval on the label. This seal ensures that the ingredients and amounts of that ingredient listed on the label are contained in the pill. The USP also runs several tests that confirm the pill to be free of contaminants like heavy metals and pesticides and has been manufactured under sanitary and regulated conditions.

That said, you may wish to consider the following factors before starting a multivitamin or any supplemental vitamin.

Reasons to use a multivitamin:

  • I am eating a limited diet or my appetite is poor so that I am eating less than usual.
  • I am following a restricted diet for longer than one week. This could be prescribed such as a liquid diet after a surgical procedure, or a self-imposed diet such as on with the goal of weight loss.
  • I have a condition that reduces my body’s ability to absorb nutrients (celiac disease, ulcerative colitis) or have undergone surgery that interferes with the normal absorption of nutrients (gastric bypass surgery, Whipple procedure).
  • I temporarily have increased nutrient needs, such as being pregnant.
  • I’m very busy and just can’t eat a balanced diet every day.

Reasons that may not need a multivitamin:

  • I eat well but am feeling tired all the time (discuss first with your doctor so they can investigate other possible causes).
  • I eat a pretty good diet but want to improve my health as much as possible, so it couldn’t hurt to get some extra nutrition from a vitamin.
  • I have osteoporosis and need more calcium, or I have iron-deficiency anemia and need more iron (in both scenarios, you may only need to take those individual nutrients rather than a comprehensive multivitamin).

If you are unsure about taking a multivitamin, you may wish to consult with a registered dietitian who can evaluate your current diet to determine any missing nutrients. At that time, suggestions to improve your food intake of those nutrients will be provided, or one or more supplemental vitamins may be prescribed if that is not possible. Always inform your doctor of all supplements you are taking in case of potential interactions with medications.

The bottom line for me is if you think it works, it works. Be sure to research the ingredients so you know all the ingredients or other supplements you don’t want to take. The approach to multivitamins seems to try to see what sticks on the wall. I’m amazed at some of the other supplements I find when searching for a multivitamin.

Look for one that contains the Recommended Daily Allowance amounts and that bears the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) seal of approval on the label.

Melinda

References:

Web MD

Harvard

 

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