Dump your vitamin and mineral supplements? Don’t throw those babies out with the bath water! We’re still taking ours, despite some new studies bashing multivitamin benefits. We’re also ignoring headlines like “Multivitamins a Waste of Money” and “Your Multivitamins aren’t Doing a D**n Thing” – and we think you should, too.
We’re convinced that some vitamin supplements have plenty of health-protecting benefits – especially if you’re over 50, munch a less-than-perfect diet, are a woman of reproductive age or are among the tens of millions of Americans who take nutrient-zapping drugs for high blood pressure, diabetes or to tame stomach acid. That’s a lot of folks.
So why the opposition to multivites?
One metastudy conducted for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force looked at 27 supplement studies involving more than 400,000 people. It found no benefit for longevity, cancer prevention or heart health in people without nutrient deficiencies.
The second followed 5,947 guys for 12 years and found that multivitamins didn’t sharpen thinking or memory in men who ate healthy diets.
The third tracked more than 1,700 heart-attack survivors and, again, found no heart-health benefits for those who took a multivitamin, but plenty of people dropped out of that study. All three studies appeared in the same issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine. The editors of this well-respected journal told readers “Enough is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements.”
We have a different message for our readers. We want you to know that what these studies really found is that if you eat well almost all the time or only take your vitamins some of the time, you won’t get a benefit. This is news? The studies also didn’t show any harm from taking multivitamins.
We recommend that twice a day, most people take a half a multivitamin, containing important nutrients at levels close to their recommended daily allowance. It’s a great, inexpensive insurance policy against an imperfect diet. More than 60 percent of folks taking the nutrition test at RealAge.com don’t get recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals from their diet (sea salt, for example, doesn’t have much iodine).
The reason to take half a multi in the morning and half at night is that you urinate out soluble vitamins in 12 to 16 hours; two doses help keep blood levels steady.
We also take a daily supplement of 1,000 IU of vitamin D-3 and DHA omega-3 (Mehmet takes 600 mg and Mike takes 900 mg because he’s over 60). What’s in it for you? In addition to an 18 percent reduction in cancer rates after age 70, here are a few more benefits:
1. If you’re over age 50: A multivitamin can reduce risk for non-prostate cancers by 6 percent to 18 percent in men and cut risk for adenomas – polyps that can become colon cancers – by 20 percent. To cut your risk for vision loss and early forms of age-related macular degeneration, add 900 mg of DHA and a lutein and zeaxanthin supplement (Dr. Mike does) to help protect your eyes.
2. If you’re a woman of reproductive age: Take a multivitamin enriched with the 400-600 mg DHA omega-3 at least three months before you conceive and throughout your pregnancy. It can reduce your child’s risk for autism 40 percent, of serious birth defects 80 percent and of childhood cancers (those that strike between ages 2 and 6) 65 percent. Since 50 percent of pregnancies are unplanned, taking your multi daily whether you’re thinking about motherhood or not is a good idea. If you do become pregnant, talk with your doctor about other prenatal vitamins.
3. If you take a diuretic, an acid-blocking proton pump inhibitor or the diabetes drug metformin: Some diuretics can reduce your body’s store of potassium, needed for healthy muscle function and healthy blood pressure. PPIs can lower levels of vitamin B-12, which helps your body make red blood cells, nerves and DNA. And metformin can reduce B-12 levels and magnesium, also important for healthy blood pressure.
Dr. Mehmet Oz is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Dr. Mike Roizen is chief wellness officer and chairman of the Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic.