Americans spend $30 billion a year on vitamins and supplements. The truth is many of them are unnecessary, and are of very doubtful benefit to those taking them.
An unfortunate: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”. The majority of the vitamin and supplement industry is the model for this statement. We want to protect our health but reality is- we could be hurting ourselves in a number of ways.
A few points to consider about taking vitamins:
- We hold a very incorrect belief about vitamins: “They can help, but they cannot hurt”. This is completely not true. Many vitamins and supplements contain “other” ingredients such as dyes and hydrogenated oils. Titanium dioxide, a known carcinogen is often used as a “flow agent” to increase production of the vitamins through the machinery. Poor quality ingredients are used to save cost which can have heavy metals such as lead and mercury – unfortunately all too common in fish oil supplements. We certainly don’t take our supplements in order to get a daily dose of carcinogens. We must know where the supplement is sourced, and really understand that process and its production.
- There are many that say multivitamins “create very expensive urine”. Taking a vitamin does NOT replace a healthy diet. Much of the vitamin is excreted in the loo – either our body had enough of that vitamin or, the body cannot absorb it for a variety of possible reasons.
- Some vitamins are stored by the body – and if the accumulate above a certain threshold can become toxic.
- People need to consult with their medical providers before choosing vitamins. Yes, they can interfere with certain conditions, and they can most definitely contain allergens.
- There is a real science as to time of day, combination with other supplements for effective supplementation. If we randomly choose certain vitamins – we can be putting our inner balance of nutrients out of whack. If 2 vitamins use the same receptor site – one might not be absorbed. Some vitamins need others, coenzymes to be absorbed properly.
- Taking certain supplements can actually reduce the body’s own production of its own natural stores.
- Quality. Yes – we are all concerned about price. However, quality of our supplementation is of the utmost concern. There is no quality regulation on our supplements. Just because it is manufactured by a well known company – does not mean the best quality or the highest integrity in production, or – is in a form the body can absorb!
- Vitamin D. I urge everyone to consult with their medical providers about taking vitamin D. There are numerous vital roles of vitamin D in the body, and many people are vitamin D deficient. Slathering on sunscreen, living in a location with less sun exposure, hard to absorb enough vitamin D from our foods… there are a plethora of reasons we need vitamin D supplementation. However, many brands are made with D2 – which requires an added step in the body to convert to D3. Check with your healthcare professionals about taking a D3 supplement. You can ask for a vitamin D blood test – to check your levels.
- Oxidative Stress: As I have written many articles here on ezines – getting our antioxidants is a vital part of our nutrition and supplementation. The correct dosage and variety of antioxidants can balance our redox state – the balance within between our oxidative stress levels from Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) and antioxidants. Oxidative stress is at the root of all of our chronic illnesses… diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression, many cancers, macular degeneration, cognitive impairment… Getting antioxidants in our foods (colorful fruits and vegetables are a good start) and with educated supplementation is the very best investment in our health. Problem is – again – most vitamins for providing antioxidants can be poor quality, not well absorbed, not nearly enough to actually lower oxidative stress, and do not have the range of antioxidants to be effective enough to prevent disease.
We cannot take multivitamins hoping it will replace good solid nutrition, or that they will make up for some of our poorer food choices or vices. Supplementation does NOT allow us to “smoke safely” or drink alcohol excessively. I’ve heard this rationalization repeatedly in my career. It is just not true.
I also get very annoyed when I walk in to a vitamin store – and I hear uneducated salespeople giving advice on supplementation. Because someone works in a vitamin store – does not mean they know the science, no matter how convincing they are. Good sales and good science are not the same.
There is excellent supplementation. Our #1 goal should be prevention or management of disease. That brings along the energy, focus, physical strength & anti-aging… all those wonder promises we strive for taking vitamins. If you are going to take supplements – get educated. Insist on seeing the science. Not just of the vitamin, but the details of the actual supplement you are going to ingest. Far too often the dollars of these vitamins and supplements are invested in the marketing and advertising. Choose supplements of the highest quality, that the actual product itself has been scrutinized and proven with objective science.