Should You Take That Multivitamin?

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Published 2-14-09

“Dear Pharmacist,

The television news said that taking multivitamins will not help me prevent cancer or heart disease. I take several supplements. Have I been wasting my money for years?”

—W.M. Springfield, Illinios

A: It’s a bad game they’re playing. Like many studies this conclusion is drawn from fake science and then promoted to naive consumers. That’s not to say that all supplements in any amounts are good or good for you. Eating superfoods and lots of fresh organic produce is better than taking multivitamins. But unfortunately today’s foods are genetically modified and/or grown in mineral-deficient soil. So I definitely advocate high-quality nutrients, especially because diseases often manifest from nutritional imbalances.

Nutrients (not drugs) restore balance. To learn how to pick high-quality vitamins, read my second book, “Drug Muggers.” It teaches you how to pick good supplements and get what you deserve. The February 2009 issue of “The Archives of Internal Medicine” concluded that multivitamins will not lower one’s risk for cancer, stroke, blood clots or heart disease.

You’ve heard the old saying, “Three strikes and you’re out!” Well, batter up.

Strike 1: Multivitamins were not administered to the participants in the study! No joke, how do you measure beneficial effects of multivitamins when you don’t provide any? In this “study” women only filled out questionnaires and said they were taking vitamins.

Strike 2: Compliance was not enforced. There’s no way to guarantee that women took their vitamins daily, weekly or ever. How can scientists conclude that vitamins impact heart disease or cancer when their participants are not compliant with the regimen? Duh.

Strike 3: Some of the multivitamin brands were garbage. How do I know? Because the study did not standardize the brand used or insist upon high quality supplements. Women took whatever they wanted. Let’s face it: Many consumers buy supplements based on price tag, not quality. Cheap vitamins use lousy forms of a nutrient. For example synthetic beta carotene is not good for you, and studies show it can increase cancer and death rates in smokers. Yet natural beta carotene has anti-cancer benefits according to many clinical trials. See how misleading studies could shorten your lifespan?

Research studies based on inferior forms or isomers of a nutrient are innately flawed and therefore, conclusions are foul. Don’t take the pitch.

I bet the women consumed the typical American diet which is loaded with sugar, artery-clogging fats, cancer-causing nitrates and artificial ingredients. No multivitamin can offset that. In summary the message this study sends is that natural nutrients are bad for you. They are worthless and do not reduce your risk for deadly diseases. The unspoken message is that you should only take pharmaceuticals and other FDA-approved lab-created chemicals since clinical trials prove safety and efficacy. Believe that, and “You’re Out!”

Did you know?
If you use a steroid inhaler for breathing, rinse your mouth out with water after each use to prevent oral thrush infections.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Any products mentioned or information within this column is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.