Saturday, December 21, 2013

Enough is Enough - Supplement Concerns in the Media

Yesterday, the media was full of stories about an editorial (simply the opinion of a few doctors) about the usefulness of a multivitamin by the general, well-nourished public. However, the media has shortened and oversimplified the editorial so the public thinks they are being told that we should not take a multivitamin. 

What's the real deal? Yes, you should be taking a multivitamin, if you are in need of additional nutrients in your diet. Who needs more nutrients? People who have illnesses that put them at risk for low nutrient levels (such as digestive absorption problems, etc.), vegetarians/vegans, pregnant and breastfeeding women, elderly with limited diets, 'picky-eaters' children, stressed-out adults...the list goes on and on. 

Did you know that the foods we eat today have very little nutrient value compared to the foods we ate 50 years ago? And, I'm not just saying that - there are studies out of Canada and the UK showing that we need to eat over 50 peaches today to get the same amount of some nutrients we would have gotten in eating just one peach half a century ago.

It's worth reading more about all of this. I've re-read the studies the editorial discusses - these are very general, large studies talking about some very major diseases (cardiovascular disease and cancer) that have multiple risk factors and reasons for developing. If you had asked me before the studies were published, what I thought they would find, I would say, "No, in this type of study design I don't think a multivitamin is going to statistically have a significant result saying it prevents these disease."But, please note that smaller, more focused studies have found supplements help cardiovascular disease and prevent cancer. 

All in all, do your research. Decide for yourself what supplements you should or should not be taking. Talk to a nutritional expert (including RDs, NDs, RHNs and even some MDs). Don't let the reporters of your local 6 o'clock news channel dictate what is best for your health - they are NOT the experts. 

My Confession - in my family all take a multivitamin and I'm an expert in this stuff yet, that news report even made ME wonder if we should stop. It bothered me so much I went and dug up the articles and read them for myself. What did I decide? Our household will continue to take the supplements we have determined are beneficial for our health needs with confidence.

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