No matter where you live, Calgary, Canada, New York City, New York or Miami, Florida, when you stop at any pharmacy or drug store, you’ll see rows of multivitamins. They even have a section in grocery stores. Do they provide any benefit? Are they even good for you? Those are excellent questions. We’ve been programmed through commercials to take a multivitamin daily to stay in good health, but it takes more than that. In America, about $12 million dollars or more are spent on multivitamins, probably more since the pandemic. Over 70% of the money is spent by seniors, people 65 or older.
You can get too much of a good thing.
There are two types of vitamins, water-soluble and fat soluble. Water-soluble vitamins need to be consumed daily. The body doesn’t store them. When you ingest the amount you need, the rest is flushed out in your urine or feces. Vitamins C and B complex are water-soluble. It’s hard to overdose on those, although too much C can cause digestive issues. Vitamins A, D and E are fat soluble. The body stores them and you can definitely overdose.
Both water-soluble vitamins and fat soluble can have side effects if too much is ingested.
As noted before, taking high amounts of vitamin C can cause digestive issues, like stomach pain and diarrhea. You have to worry more about the fat soluble vitamins, since you store them in your body. High doses of E can increase the risk of stroke. Too much vitamin A can cause liver damage, since they’re stored in the liver. They can cause interruptions in the storage of calcium, allowing calcium to build up in the body, potentially damaging the kidneys and leaching it from the bone, potentially causing osteoporosis. In smokers, too much beta-carotene or vitamin A can contribute to lung cancer.
Choose the cafeteria, ala carte, method of taking your vitamins.
Not all vitamins should be ignored. You should work with your doctor to find the types of vitamins you need and also which ones interact with medications or interfere with medications. Vitamin D, for instance, is important, and can be manufactured by the body with exposure to the sun. However, people above the latitude of Atlanta, Georgia, which means everyone in Canada, can’t get enough exposure most of the year. People who are obese, seniors and those with dark colored skin also are at risk for deficiency. D is highly important for the immune system and studies show that the majority of people who had the most severe cases of covid were vitamin D deficient.
- Three studies involving 450,000 people showed that taking daily multivitamins didn’t reduce the potential for heart disease and cancer. They didn’t affect mental decline either way or make a difference in overall health.
- Multivitamins may not be absorbed by the body. They often leave the body in much the same condition that they entered. Eating healthy is the best way to get all the vitamins you need, plus provides other nutrients not found in vitamins.
- Folate and folic acid are two different forms of vitamin B9, which is important for pregnant women or women about to get pregnant to help prevent birth defects. Folate is easier for the body to process and therefore recommended.
- Save your money on multivitamins and invest in fruits and vegetables instead. You can use frozen, canned or fresh, but make sure there aren’t added ingredients. Since vitamin D is hard to get from food, get plenty of sunshine in the summer and supplement the rest of the year.
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