Recently, an editorial was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine entitled “Enough is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements.”
So does that mean I'm going to throw out any and all vitamins and supplements in my medicine cabinet? Probably not, and here’s why:
In one of the major studies cited, multivitamin intake had no effect on cognitive decline or memory. However, in other studies (conveniently left out of the editorial), multivitamins have indeed been shown to reduce the risk of cancer and dying from a fatal heart attack. In addition, the major study on cognitive decline was actually done in a physician population – who are probably going to be just slightly healthier and more educated than the general population.
In addition, none of the studies mentioned in the article take into account the following facts:
In active, exercising individuals Vitamin D and magnesium deficiencies are rampant. Most multivitamins are woefully inadequate in their levels of both these important compounds. But the studies don’t look at extremely active people, or at some of the downstream issues with low Vitamin D and magnesium deficiencies, such as hormone imbalances, cramping, and poor sleep (I don’t know about you, but these are important health and performance variables for me!).
Many supplements and multivitamins are designed for specific needs, rather than a shotgun approach. For example, 3 recent clinical trials (AREDS, AREDS2, and LAST) showed that multivitamins designed to promote eye health can actually prevent macular degeneration.
Your gut is incredibly important for your immune system and neurotransmitter production. For this reason, multivitamins or supplements with probiotics, digestive enzymes or natural antibacterials and herbs can have a positive health effect – but none of the studies investigated variables such as frequency of sickness, neurotransmitter balance, etc.
However, even with all these items taken into consideration, I don’t personally use a multivitamin.
Well, most do indeed take a “shotgun” approach and are full of dangerous fillers and additives. Instead, I take targeted nutrients, such as fish oil, Vitamin D, magnesium, and probiotics. Sure, there are a few more bottles in my fridge, but in my opinion – especially for active, exercising individuals - it’s a healthier way to go.
Do you have questions about multivitamins and supplements? Then leave a comment over at Facebook.com/GetFitGuy!