Do you take a multivitamin every day? If so, join the crowd. About forty percent of Americans take a multivitamin daily — usually in hopes of better health, more energy, and lower risk of diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Even if you don’t take vitamins regularly, the idea has probably crossed your mind. You may even have a vitamin bottle collecting dust in your cupboard…
Multivitamin usage has been a hot topic in recent months, as research and experts have come out with the advice to stop taking these vitamin and mineral supplements. Why? The research stated that multivitamins have “no substantial health benefit. This evidence, combined with biological considerations, suggests that any effect, either beneficial or harmful, is probably small.” The studies reviewed in this article conclude that multivitamins do not provide any protection against cancer, cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline, or all-cause mortality.
What if I take a multi to fill in the gaps in my diet?
It can be challenging to get all of the recommended vitamins and minerals in our daily diets, even when we try really hard! Taking a multivitamin may be a good way to ensure that you are meeting your nutrient needs. In one study cited by Nutrition Action, taking a multivitamin decreased the number of people with suboptimal levels of nutrients like Vitamin D and B-12.
What should I know about my multi?
Avoid megadoses. Some nutrients can be toxic or harmful in megadoses, such as beta-carotene, Vitamin A, and Vitamin E. Stick to brands that contain 100% of the Daily Values, like Centrum, One A Day, Nature Made, Equate, Target, and Walgreens multivitamins. Check the label to make sure they are not providing megadoses.
Vitamin A/retinol/beta-carotene: No more than 5,000 IU
B-ware: Typically high doses of B vitamins are safe, but issues can arise with >100mg of B6 (nerve damage and skin lesions, although reversible) and >50mg of niacin (skin flushing). Supplemental B12 may be necessary for people over 50 and vegans — a multi should cover your bases unless you are diagnosed with a deficiency and require higher doses.
Iron: Premenopausal women should look to get 18 mg/day, while postmenopausal women and men should keep it to 10mg/day.
Magnesium: No more than 350mg from supplements due to potential for diarrhea and stomach cramping.
Selenium: No more than 100mcg
Vitamin E: No more than 100IU
Vitamin K: 10mcg or more (check with your doctor if you take blood thinners)
Folic acid: Women of childbearing age should get daily folic acid, but no more than 400mcg/day from your multi.
Calcium: Multi’s only contain a small amount of calcium. If your diet is low in calcium, consider an additional calcium supplement.
Zinc: No more than 30mg
FoodandFitness Pro’s Spin: Multivitamins will not make or break your health — your lifestyle choices will. However, taking a multivitamin daily may supply some important nutrients that your diet is lacking, and is an inexpensive type of “health insurance”.
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Exercise lasting one hour or less
Typically, if you’re exercising in a moderate temperature environment for less than an hou...
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