NEWSFLASH: Multivitamins DO have health benefits...but they may not be what you’ve been led to believe. Want to know the actual health benefits of taking multivitamins? Read Dr. Ellie's response below.
Multivitamins: Are They Really a Waste of Money?
One of the top questions I get is “Should I be taking a multivitamin?”
The short answer is yes.
Many question if taking them are “just a waste of money.” And I feel this may stem from not knowing where to find high quality supplements or know what should actually be in their supplements.
I’m spilling the truth in today’s post.
The truth is, there is too much hype out there about multivitamins. Hype about their health benefits, and hype about their risks.
What are multivitamins, exactly?
Multivitamins are exactly what they sound like: multiple vitamins. They are supplements that contain several different vitamins and minerals condensed into one tablet or capsule. They may also other ingredients like amino acids or fatty acids. And because there are multiple ingredients, there are low doses of each ingredient.
Did you know they are the most commonly used supplements in the world!
Fun Fact: There are 13 vitamins and at least 16 minerals that are essential to health. You need certain amounts of all of these nutrients for optimal health. In fact, nutrient deficiencies can impact reproduction, growth, and regulation of bodily processes.
Can’t you just get those vitamins in our diets?
Lots of people say that if you follow a “balanced diet,” you’ll get enough vitamins and minerals. I personally would love to believe it … but it’s just not true. Many people are eating way too much processed food that is devoid of nutrition. There’s a lot of research that shows many people don’t get enough vitamins and minerals. Period. Also, the quality of our food has decreased as well. In addition, most people now are “poor absorbers” and cant get all the nutrients from their food so supplementing is essential!
How do you know which vitamins and minerals are in your multivitamin?
Read the label, and don’t be afraid to ask questions! If there are at least three different vitamins and minerals listed, it’s a multivitamin.
But do they really work?
Multivitamins have been studied a lot.
The quality of the multivitamins studied has not been consistent. Some studies consider any supplements with at least three vitamins to be a “multivitamin.” Most of the time, the multivitamins studied are ones that are very popular and are available everywhere.
So, what exactly do we know about the health benefits of multivitamins?
Here’s a quick summary of the science:
- Multivitamin use is linked with improved moods. Interestingly, if someone has nutrient deficiencies, they may have mood imbalances. So, if the multivitamin addresses an underlying deficiency, this makes sense.
- In terms of memory and cognitive performance (ability to think), there seems to be an improvement in people who regularly take multivitamins.
- In terms of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, there seems to be a slight improvement.
- In terms of heart disease, the results are mixed. There may be an increase, or a decrease, or no effect on risk of heart attacks.
- In terms of cancer, there is a slightly reduced risk of certain cancers in men.
- In terms of mortality (death), there doesn’t seem to be a clear increase or decrease in mortality rates for people who take multivitamins.
All in all, multivitamins aren’t magical “health pills.” They’re not guaranteed to improve your mental or physical health, or help you live longer; but, they do have some health benefits.
Are multivitamins safe?
Just about every study that looked to see if multivitamins were health-promoting, also looked at side effects. They have consistently shown that multivitamins are very safe.
Now, I’m not talking about high-dose supplements. High doses of many nutrients can be harmful. But specifically for multivitamins where there are several nutrients included, all of which are in low doses. Those are safe.
Unless you have a knowledgeable practitioner advise otherwise, you want to stick to the dose on the label. That dose should be safe for most people.
However, there are many times when supplements (not just multivitamins) have been tested and found to contain different ingredients than what’s on the label; this may be different quantities of vitamins or minerals. Sometimes they contain ingredients that are not supposed to be in them at all (like toxins or prescription medicines).
This is why QUALITY matters! You want your body to be able to use those nutrients and you want the supplement to contain what is listed and be in a useable form. That is why only getting your supplements from a licensed doctor or from reputable companies is so important.
Multivitamins are not a way to optimal health. There is limited evidence that they improve health for most people. But there are some benefits.
Since they contain low doses of many different nutrients, they’re also safe (as long as you have a quality product).Of course, taking a multivitamin is not a way to improve a poor diet. I always recommend eating a balanced diet of whole foods. There is plenty of evidence that eating a diet of whole, unprocessed food prevents many diseases.
Give our office a call today, (425) 686-4498 to set an initial consult with Dr. Heintze.
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Dr. Ellie Heintze, ND, LAc, is a naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist in Bothell, WA at her practice Starting Point Acupuncture. She is a pain specialist, seeing people who suffer from chronic pain, migraines, as well as digestive issues. Offering pain relief injections, acupuncture, facial rejuvenation, and nutrition consults. Most insurances accepted. Dr. Ellie Heintze is also the author of the book, A Starting Point Guide to Going Gluten-Free on Amazon.
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Dr. Ellie Heintze, ND, LAc
- Master’s Degree in Acupuncture
- Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine
- Master’s Degree in Chemistry
Northern Arizona University
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