Personal Trainer Wisdom: In 2005, I found out from my doctor that my level of triglycerides were very high (300…and anything above 150 is considered high). What his first response? A statin, of course. Considering that I didn’t want a lifetime dependency on a drug nor the extra work for my kidneys, I refused the doctor’s prescription. Within 3 years, my triglyceride levels returned to normal due to a change in my diet. Moral of the story: Taking a pill can be easy but not always necessary (or safe) to achieve your health goals. Why do you take supplements or pills? Do you have a deficiency? Are you taking the easy way out? Are you only taking a multivitamin to counter your unhealthy diet? While not all deficiencies, diseases, or disorders can be completely remedied by our food intake, shouldn’t you take the safest, most nutrient dense approach when you can though?
Is Taking a Multivitamin Worth the Risks?
Multivitamins are the most popular dietary supplement sold today. People of all demographics and age groups use multivitamins, and they're often people's first supplement. Since there are so many different multivitamin formulas, this supplement makes up an entire subsection of the supplement industry.
Multivitamins are often discussed in the media and online, though their use is rarely recommended against. Many articles and experts recommend a multivitamin as a general health supplement. However, multivitamins are made up of many different compounds, and it's never a good idea to take a variety of supplements without a good and well-researched reason to do so.
Not everyone needs to supplement with a multivitamin. People with a nutrient deficiency that cannot be alleviated through dietary changes may experience benefits from supplementing with a multivitamin, but that also depends on the kind of multivitamin formulation they buy.
Personal Trainer Wisdom: Point 1: You’re missing the other essential nutrients that aid in the digestion and absorption of the multivitamin nutrients. Point 2: Unless you live in Guatemala or another impoverished region, I can argue that most Americans living in low-income areas and food deserts still have access to whole foods (that is if they’re interested in a plant-based diet…which is usually not the case). Don’t believe me? Cut out all animal products, candy, soda, and liquor during your next grocery trip. What’s the new cost of your bill?
The Standard Multivitamin
The most commonly used and researched multivitamin formula contains 100 percent of the recommended daily intake (RDI) of nutrients the body needs. Some compounds, like magnesium and calcium, are physically too large to include in these capsules. Iron is also usually omitted.
Standard multivitamins are an effective and recommended supplement for people who do not get enough nutrients through their diet. Keep in mind, making dietary changes is both more effective and tastier than supplementing to alleviate a nutrition deficiency.
Though standard multivitamins are beneficial supplements for people living in low-income areas or food deserts without easy access to nutritional food, they are more often used as preventative supplements by people eating a varied diet. Though studies show there are no side effects from standard multivitamin supplements, they also don't provide any benefits when taken by already-healthy people.
Personal Trainer Wisdom: The supplement market is flooded with non-regulated FDA products. Do you really know what you are ingesting? Does it contain a harmful combination? Do you know how your combination of pills interact with each other?br>
The Surplus Multivitamin
Even experimental multivitamin formulas tend to toe the line when it comes to the RDI of various nutrients. The third category of multivitamins, however, contains formulas that disregard serving sizes and established dosages.
Surplus multivitamins are marketed as general health supplements, whether they contain vitamin C, garlic or another herb. These multivitamins are not vitamins; they are combinations of other supplements and compounds.
Multivitamins and supplements that contain a variety of compounds but hide the doses behind proprietary blends should be avoided. There is no research done on these specific combinations. Existing research on individual supplements does not apply because supplements can act differently when taken together. When doses and ingredients are not available, it isn't possible to determine the effects and health risks of the supplement.
Multivitamin supplements that list the amount of each ingredient can be supplemented safely, but should only be used if the included ingredients are effective supplements for your specific health goal.
Personal Trainer Wisdom: You should absolutely ask yourself this list of questions for every medication or supplement in your cabinet. Other questions: Why am I considering a supplement? Am I avoiding what I really need to do for my body? Do I need to take this supplement or does effective marketing make me believe so?
I Need a Multivitamin?
Multivitamins, like all supplements, should never be used without a good reason. Before purchasing a new supplement, read the label and ask yourself:
1. What ingredients in this supplement are useful for my health goal?
2. What ingredients in this supplement are not useful for my health goal?
3. Will the ingredients hurt me or be counterproductive?
4. If I buy the ingredients individually, will it be more expensive than this supplement?
If the multivitamin isn't harmful and isn't more expensive than the sum of its parts, it may be worth considering for supplementation.
Menshealth.com – Men’s Health thinks that supplements will help your health. What do you think?
Author: Michael Moody Fitness with excerpt sourced from the article "Is Taking a Multivitamin Worth the Risks?" on Livestrong.com.
"Is Taking a Multivitamin Worth the Risks?" Review
During my personal training sessions in Chicago, clients often ask about magical weight loss pills. Usually the statement begins with "I recently saw on Dr. Oz....". I'll admit that I don't know the positive effects of every dietary supplement out there. In fact, as a Chicago personal trainer, I will admit that I don't know much about most dietary supplements.
And I'm not alone. The federal government doesn't either. Surprisingly, supplements aren't regulated under the FDA and their claims on effectiveness is usually based on privately funded studies. Is this right considering the harmful risks of this massive industry?
Even Dr. Oz-the self-proclaimed medical expert on TV-has fallen prey to the unregulated hype. Check out the youtube video of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Dr. Oz and Weight Loss Supplements for surprising commentary on this topic.