Should I Take A Daily Multivitamin?

If you ask 10 doctors if you should take a multi-vitamin, you will probably get 10 different answers. I have read many reports from doctors stating that it is not necessary to take a daily multi-vitamin. Many nutritionists say that if you are diligent about watching what you eat, then you don’t have to take a multi-vitamin.

A new study was just released that proves that taking a daily multi-vitamin will reduce the risk of cancer (most types except prostate) by 8 percent. Now 8 percent may not seem like much, but there are very few other changes you can make that will cut the risk of cancers by 8 or 10 percent. To put it in perspective, quitting smoking will decrease the risk of cancer by 10 percent. That 8 percent is not insignificant. I feel that any decrease in the risk of cancer is significant.

This new study followed 15,000 male doctors for more than a decade. It found that those who took a daily multi-vitamin had 8 percent fewer cancers than those who had taken a dummy pill for that period. The purpose of this study was to determine if a common, daily multi-vitamin had an effect on overall cancer risk. It was performed as a randomized, double blinded clinical trial. It was one the largest and longest studies ever performed to address questions about multi-vitamin use. The paper was published online in The Journal of the American Medical Association and was presented on Wednesday at an American Association for Cancer Research conference.

Dr. J. Michael Gaziano, a cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the VA Boston Healthcare System and lead author of the study, said “it certainly appears there is a modest reduction in the risk of cancer from a typical multivitamin.”

Dr. Gaziano goes on to say that “it would be a big mistake for people to go out and take a multivitamin instead of quitting smoking or doing other things that we have a higher suspicion play a bigger role, like eating a good diet and getting exercise. You’ve got to keep wearing your sunscreen.”

For many years I have felt that it is important to take a multivitamin for many purposes. I have a master’s degree in nutrition and have done some research into nutrition and multivitamin use. This education has helped shape my view of nutrition and what our bodies need to function properly.

I have read in many places that if you eat well, then you don’t need to take a multivitamin; that the vitamins and minerals in real foods are much better for you than those found in a synthetic multivitamin. This is partially true.

The vitamins and minerals that you get from whole foods will be better for you and more complete than those you get in multivitamins. But, it is extremely hard to get all of the vitamins and minerals and nutrients out of your diet that your body needs to function at a high level. I know what I am doing nutritionally, and I still take a daily multivitamin.

Your body needs certain amounts of vitamins and minerals to repair torn muscles after you exercise, and to keep every process in your body functioning properly. Processes from digestion to urination to detoxifying alcohol to anything else the human body does. If you are lacking in one or some of those vitamins and minerals then your body will not be able to repair the muscle fibers after exercise as properly and therefore make you more susceptible to tearing and injuring muscles. Those processes like digestion will not function as well without those vitamins and minerals, therefore making you more susceptible to having gastro-intestinal issues. Basically your body will not function as well without the vitamins and minerals that you get out of a multivitamin.

Another reason to take a multivitamin is for the anti-oxidants present in the multivitamins. Anti-oxidants are positively charged particles that attach themselves to, and quench or get rid of, negatively charged particles in the body called free radicals. Free radicals are produced from eating highly processed foods such as hot dogs, pizza, cheese in a can, etc. When in the body, free radicals attach themselves to other particles and disrupt processes throughout the body. A leading theory on aging is free radical based. This means that the more free radicals present in your body, the faster your body will break down and age. So the more anti-oxidants present in your body, the slower your body will break down and the slower you will age.

Anti-oxidants are plentiful in almost all fresh fruits and vegetables. But I feel it can’t hurt to take in as many anti-oxidants as you can. If you have too much of a vitamin or anti-oxidant present in your body, you will most likely get rid of it in your urine. There are rare instances of people overdosing on vitamins, but in my experience it is rare and very hard to take in enough of a vitamin to reach toxic levels.

These two reasons along with the decreased risk of cancer are enough for me to keep taking a daily multivitamin. So are all multivitamins the same? Does it matter what type or brand you use?

Yes it does. The more synthetic a multivitamin is, the less it will be absorbed by your body. The more organic a vitamin is, the more absorbed it will be, and the more you will get out of it. Unfortunately, with vitamins what you pay for is what you get. Stay away from those big, bulk containers of vitamins that you get at the bulk warehouses. They are cheap for a reason, and will usually pass through your system without being absorbed. The same is true with the mass produced and mass marked multivitamins. If you are using them, throw them out- you are wasting your money on them. If you can get them at a national drug store chain like thrift drug or CVS, stay away from them. I advise to get them at a local organic foods store, whole foods, even GNC has good vitamins.

Taking a good, quality multivitamin can provide your body with many benefits, and can be part of keeping  you feeling good for many years. Feeling good and reducing pain without pharmaceuticals or surgery can be a very good thing. And that is the Pain Free Way.



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