Multivitamin Benefits: Are They Good For You?

What do you think?

Anyone who knows me knows what my opinion is, but I don’t think I have ever sat down to review what the scientific research says about multivitamin benefits.

Many people believe that if they just eat healthy they will get all the nutrition they need.  Worse, health professionals like doctors and dieticians perpetuate this myth.  The research is very clear that people do NOT get all the nutrition they need from the food they eat.  Whether or not they SHOULD, they DON’T.

So if people are going around deficient in one or more nutrient every day, does supplementation help?  Can you get the nutrition you need from pills?

vitaminbottlesIn a word, no.  You can’t get all the nutrition you need from pills.  You need to eat healthy.  This is basically because we need to know that you need a nutrient before we can put it into a pill.  And whole-foods supplements (where they basically juice a food and dehydrate it and package what’s left into a pill) aren’t adequate because you’d have to take huge numbers of pills daily in order to get the content of a single piece of fruit or a vegetable.  You still need to eat healthy balanced meals and sensible portions of food.

So what’s a person to do?  The short answer is to eat healthy AND take a high-quality supplement.  I did a literature review and here are five studies from the 1980s to today.

1.  In 1985, a study was published examining blood nutrient levels in female college students living on-campus and eating a diet specifically designed for them by the college dietician.  These young women’s blood nutrient levels were significantly improved by taking a multivitamin.  Click here to see the study abstract.

2.  A study of healthy adults over age 60 showed that those who took a multivitamin-mineral supplement spent one-third as many days sick with infection-related illness as those who did not take the supplement.  (Amanda knows this is true.  Her kids don’t share nearly as many colds with her since she started taking Vita Lea with Iron!)  Click here to see the citation.

3.  Calcium and vitamin D supplementation have been shown to decrease the rate of bone loss in postmenopausal women (many studies demonstrate this).

4.  An herbal supplement (marketed by the Shaklee Corporation under the trade name NutriFeron) was shown to significantly decrease menopausal symptoms, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and plasma triglycerides and LDL-cholesterol.  It also decreased plasma hepatitis C viral levels in patients with chronic active hepatitis C and improved their symptoms as well.  Of course, I can’t tell you NutriFeron will treat blood pressure or cholesterol, menopause symptoms or Hepatitis C.  This is just what the published literature suggests.

5.  Long-term users of a number of supplements produced by the Shaklee Corporation were shown to have lower blood pressure, better cholesterol profiles, lower levels of certain inflammatory markers, lower risk of diabetes and were more likely to rate their health as “good” or “excellent.”  Here is the study link.

There are many more studies I can cite, but I think you’ll agree that the evidence is clear that taking a carefully designed program of supplements including a high-quality multivitamin is an important ingredient in a healthy lifestyle.

I should add that all the research I discussed above was supported and published by Shaklee.  There are over 90 research studies published in peer-reviewed journals supported by Shaklee.  How many studies has your supplement company published?

If you’d like more information about what supplements would be appropriate for you, please email me at drjen@jenniferwurstmd.com or check this page.

Question:  Do you take a multivitamin?  Do you think it makes you healthier?

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