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Multivitamin vs. Targeted Nutrition

A study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that male doctors taking a multivitamin for 11 years had the same incidence of cardiovascular events and deaths as those taking a placebo.  I see this study as a great opportunity to explain a little about common research in nutrition and quality nutritional supplementation.

Why didn’t the multivitamin benefit these men?  Well, the study called the multivitamin “common”.  I assume it was something like a one-a-day multi that 100% of the recommended daily allowance [RDA] of a few different nutrients.  There are a few inherent flaws in thinking that those will improve health by much at all.  100% of the RDA is a number that is supposed to keep a person from getting vitamin deficiency diseases like scurvy and beri beri.  If you’ve never heard of those, it’s because those diseases almost never occur in the modern world.  Still, one step above scurvy is a very long way from healthy.  For example, your body uses about 4000 units of Vitamin D each day, but the RDA is only 600 units.  We know that sufficient levels of Vitamin D reduce cardiovascular disease, cancer, and chronic illnesses, but a “common” multivitamin will never give you sufficient levels, even if you absorb all the vitamins from the pill.  Absorption and bioavailability are other problems with most multivitamins.  Many are bound too tightly and with substances that don’t work well.  For these reasons, they are unlikely to improve your nutrient status.

The nutrient status of the men in the study is another question.  Chances are that they each had low levels of a few nutrients or even of many nutrients, but no tests were performed at all to find out which nutrients were necessary or the levels that they needed.  There are excellent lab tests available to check the actual level of nutrients in your cells or estimate the levels of supplementation you need from the biproducts of your metabolic activity.  Even a detailed questionnaire and examination can give insight to the best supplements for you to take.  There are many studies that prove vitamins and other natural supplements significantly reduce the risk of many diseases and in some cases, they treat disease even more effectively than approved medications, but all of those studies are done with targeted nutrition and high-quality supplements.

Finally, remember that any supplement is a supplement.  A healthy diet should be your primary source of nutrition and first line of defense against any disease.



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