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Multivitamins a waste of money?

by Greg Bernhardt
Tags: money, multivitamins, waste
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Greg Bernhardt
#1
Dec16-13, 04:38 PM
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Are multivitamins a waste of money? Editorial in medical journal says yes
http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/16/health...ies/index.html

More than half of all adults in the United States take some sort of multivitamin; many do so in hopes of preventing heart disease and cancer or even to aid with memory.
But an editorial published in this week's Annals of Internal Medicine says that using supplements and multivitamins to prevent chronic conditions is a waste of money.
I've taken vitamins and supplements during some periods and I admit, I can't tell the difference.
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Jimmy
#2
Dec16-13, 05:00 PM
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I'm guilty of taking a multivitamin once a day just to be 'safe'.

Sometimes there's a need to use supplements if there's a deficiency in your diet. But they are often marketed as a cure-all.

Here's a related article:
http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/...heart-disease/
Astronuc
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Dec16-13, 06:41 PM
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Quote Quote by Greg Bernhardt View Post
I've taken vitamins and supplements during some periods and I admit, I can't tell the difference.
They do make a difference if one is deficient, however, most in the west are not deficient.

Possibly they are a waste if in excess, because the excess is simply excreted.

phinds
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Dec16-13, 06:47 PM
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Multivitamins a waste of money?

I've been asking doctors about them for decades and have gotten answers all over the map, although none of the answers have been on the order of "everyone should be taking them" whereas on the other had there have been answers on the order of "waste of time ... if your diet is that bad, you are in serious trouble anyway". No one has ever told me they are bad for you though, so I've been taking them all along. I have no idea whether or not they actually do any good.
jackmell
#5
Dec17-13, 05:55 AM
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Exactly how hard is it to get everything you need just with food? I mean even those trace elements like molybdenum and those others? It's not easy I think and how would you even know if you're getting everything you need without going through a lot of work researching everything and likely becoming consumed with the ordeal of checking your food so thoroughly. Don't have time for that anyway.

For the record, I do not feel taking just a multivitamin is a waste of time. I take one 3 or 4 times a week and I try to eat a balanced diet too. For me, that is the best recipe. :)
Chronos
#6
Dec18-13, 12:10 AM
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I think it's just a marketing scam, like enzyte. They thrill you with tales of vitamin deficiencies that have not existed in the west since the 19th century.
Johninch
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Dec28-13, 03:44 PM
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Since my company sold its vitamin division, I havenít kept up to date with the marketing claims. But we used to recommend vitamin supplements for drinkers, smokers, dieters, athletes, sick people, old people, etc. Itís quite a big market.

There were several claims and rumours about the benefits of Vitamin C as an antioxidant and you were especially recommended to take a heavy dose for colds and flu. Several studies proved this to be invalid.

Personally I take a half dayís dose of 21 vitamins and minerals every day, just in case it does some good. Apart from that I donít pay any attention to my diet.

.
bohm2
#8
Dec30-13, 03:24 PM
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Quote Quote by Greg Bernhardt View Post
Are multivitamins a waste of money? Editorial in medical journal says yes
http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/16/health...ies/index.html
I do medication reviews and recommendations for people on multiple prescription drugs and I rarely (if ever) recommend them, unless blood tests show low levels (e.g. Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, etc.). There is little evidence for benefit for most people and some of the anti-oxidants like Vitamin E, beta-carotene, etc. likely pose more harm than benefit:

The myth of Antioxidants
http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~ucbtdag/Wenner_2013.pdf

Enough Is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements
http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=1789253
Evo
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Dec30-13, 04:12 PM
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Quote Quote by bohm2 View Post
I do medication reviews and recommendations for people on multiple prescription drugs and I rarely (if ever) recommend them, unless blood tests show low levels (e.g. Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, etc.). There is little evidence for benefit for most people and some of the anti-oxidants like Vitamin E, beta-carotene, etc. likely pose more harm than benefit:

The myth of Antioxidants
http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~ucbtdag/Wenner_2013.pdf

Enough Is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements
http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=1789253
Very good articles bohm, thank you!
Pythagorean
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Dec30-13, 07:00 PM
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Quote Quote by bohm2 View Post
I do medication reviews and recommendations for people on multiple prescription drugs and I rarely (if ever) recommend them, unless blood tests show low levels (e.g. Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, etc.). There is little evidence for benefit for most people and some of the anti-oxidants like Vitamin E, beta-carotene, etc. likely pose more harm than benefit:

The myth of Antioxidants
http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~ucbtdag/Wenner_2013.pdf

Enough Is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements
http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=1789253

What do you think about the suggestion that people at northern latitude should take vitamin D supplement to make up for lack of sunlight?

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-d/
Evo
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Dec30-13, 07:55 PM
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Quote Quote by Pythagorean View Post
What do you think about the suggestion that people at northern latitude should take vitamin D supplement to make up for lack of sunlight?

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-d/
There was just a thread about vitamin D supplements. http://www.physicsforums.com/showthr...31#post4610231

The harvard link has a lot of old papers referenced, I haven't had a chance to look into the most current, although I do know the maximum dosage has been increased, people should not assume they need supplements, they should be tested by a doctor that also takes into consideration their current health and any issues.
Greg Bernhardt
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Dec30-13, 07:57 PM
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I know my sister gives her 6 week old vitamin D supplement.
Pythagorean
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Dec30-13, 08:22 PM
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We did too; my impression is that it's normal for doctors to prescribe it to newborns up north.
Evo
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Dec30-13, 08:52 PM
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Quote Quote by Greg Bernhardt View Post
I know my sister gives her 6 week old vitamin D supplement.
I think it's recommended for infants, especially breast fed infants not drinking fortified formulas. Where you run into problems is people that start self-medicating without knowing if they have a deficiency or if they have a condition that makes taking a supplement potentially dangerous.
bohm2
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Dec30-13, 10:31 PM
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Quote Quote by Pythagorean View Post
What do you think about the suggestion that people at northern latitude should take vitamin D supplement to make up for lack of sunlight?

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-d/
We recommend them for people with osteoporosis and on bisphosphonates (e.g. Alendronate, Risedronate), people on corticosteroids and elderly women who rarely go outside and/or consume few dairy foods or if blood tests reveal low levels. But the evidence of benefit (e.g. decreased fracture risk) even for many of these individuals is surprisingly not very strong as noted in this review:

Calcium and cardiovascular risks
http://www.australianprescriber.com/...ticle/1375.pdf

And we always suggest that people get the vitamins/minerals from dietary sources instead of supplements, because supplements do not seem to show the same benefits seen with dietary sources. Consider, the more recent negative findings of omega-3 (no CVD benefit) and calcium supplements (possible harm), for example.
Johninch
#16
Dec31-13, 03:56 AM
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I would only take high dosages of something if the doctor orders it. There are many substances which we ingest every day which are toxic in high doses. I am therefore careful about my alcohol consumption.

It is typical of animal toxicity studies to give high doses for a long time, in order to indicate the probably toxicity effects of low doses. Unsurprisingly, at high doses the rat develops problems and dies.

There are statistics on the popularity of vitamin and other dietary supplements including vitamins, but how high are typical effective dosages which people take?

One suspects that a lot of people are looking for a magic formula or quick fix and do likely overdose. Nobody is recommending that.

At my company, we never said that vitamin supplements increase life span. We only said that recommended regular doses of multivitamins and minerals could have health benefits. Higher doses have to be recommended by a physician. We marketed multivitamin preparations for unspecified health reasons and not only for anti-oxidative effects.

This thread is about multivitamins, but it is correct to comment on individual vitamin effects. We should be careful about a one-sided diet too.

On the other side, people like myself who take small doses of multivitamin and minerals tend to remain unimpressed by studies which we think do not apply to us. This is partly due to our unjustified beliefs which get hard wired. We also like to think that what we do in moderation may not be completely rubbish.

.
bohm2
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Dec31-13, 09:31 AM
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Quote Quote by Johninch View Post
It is typical of animal toxicity studies to give high doses for a long time, in order to indicate the probably toxicity effects of low doses. Unsurprisingly, at high doses the rat develops problems and dies.
This isn't just about toxicity issues but about possibly wasting money for zero benefits (for most people in Industrialized countries, who are pretty well all the buyers). Many human studies have been done looking at the effects of taking a daily multivitamin and benefits have not been seen. Some studies even suggest possible harm:
In contrast, we found that several commonly used dietary vitamin and mineral supplements, including multivitamins, vitamins B6, and folic acid, as well as minerals iron, magnesium, zinc, and copper, were associated with a higher risk of total mortality...Although we cannot rule out benefits of supplements, such as improved quality of life, our study raises a concern regarding their long-term safety...We cannot recommend the use of vitamin and mineral supplements as a preventive measure, at least not in a well-nourished population.
Dietary Supplements and Mortality Rate in Older Women
http://junksciencecom.files.wordpres...-mortality.pdf
http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/751263
Q_Goest
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Jan1-14, 01:18 PM
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From Science Daily: Most Clinical Studies On Vitamins Flawed by Poor Methodology

They quote what appears to be an interview with Balz Frei, professor and director of the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University who recently published this article in a journal called "Nutrients".

"One of the obvious problems is that most large, clinical studies of vitamins have been done with groups such as doctors and nurses who are educated, informed, able to afford healthy food and routinely have better dietary standards than the public as a whole," said Frei, an international expert on vitamin C and antioxidants.

...

"More than 90 percent of U.S. adults don't get the required amounts of vitamins D and E for basic health," Frei said. "More than 40 percent don't get enough vitamin C, and half aren't getting enough vitamin A, calcium and magnesium. Smokers, the elderly, people who are obese, ill or injured often have elevated needs for vitamins and minerals.

"It's fine to tell people to eat better, but it's foolish to suggest that a multivitamin which costs a nickel a day is a bad idea."


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