Do I re­ally need to take mul­ti­vi­ta­mins?

Men's Fitness - - Experts - patrick­hol­ war­



YES says Pa­trick Hol­ford, best- sell­ing au­thor of The Op­ti­mum Nu­tri­tion Bi­ble and mem­ber of the Orthomolecular Hall of Fame

Vi­ta­mins and min­er­als as­sist the body’s ba­sic func­tions, and the only way to get enough in our di­ets is through sup­ple­men­ta­tion. Be­fore su­per­mar­kets and mass-farm­ing tech­niques were in­tro­duced, the av­er­age diet con­sisted of fresh, or­ganic food with high lev­els of nu­tri­ents. That’s not the case any more. In fact, one study on the av­er­age Vic­to­rian work­ing class diet found it was so rich in mi­cronu­tri­ents that nowa­days the only way we can hope to com­pete is by us­ing mul­ti­vi­ta­min sup­ple­ments.

The op­ti­mal in­take of vi­ta­min C, for ex­am­ple – which fights in­fec­tions, low­ers risk of dis­ease and boosts im­mu­nity – is around 1g per day. You would have to eat around 20 or­anges to get that much, and most peo­ple only con­sume one­tenth of a gram each day. Like­wise, with bone-strength­en­ing vi­ta­min D, it’s im­pos­si­ble to get enough from diet and sun­light (par­tic­u­larly in Bri­tain).

Th­ese de­fi­cien­cies are fur­ther ex­ac­er­bated by the stresses on the body that fre­quent work­outs cause. Mus­cles re­lax and con­tract by us­ing cal­cium and mag­ne­sium, en­ergy is made us­ing vi­ta­mins B and C, and the byprod­ucts of en­ergy cre­ation are detox­i­fied us­ing an­tiox­i­dants. There­fore, it makes sense that a higher in­take of nu­tri­ents re­sults in bet­ter ath­letic per­for­mance.

Vi­ta­mins and min­er­als are re­quired for ev­ery func­tion the hu­man body per­forms, from mak­ing en­ergy to build­ing mus­cle, keep­ing im­mu­nity strong and stay­ing free from dis­ease. The mod­ern diet sim­ply does not pro­vide high enough amounts, so sup­ple­men­ta­tion is es­sen­tial, es­pe­cially for those who ex­er­cise. he gold stan­dard of clin­i­cal trial ev­i­dence does not sup­port us­ing mul­ti­vi­ta­min sup­ple­ments in chronic dis­ease pre­ven­tion. What’s more, the idea that the more mi­cronu­tri­ents we have in our di­ets, the bet­ter, is false.

For ex­am­ple, se­le­nium is found in most mul­ti­vi­ta­min sup­ple­ments be­cause of its an­tiox­i­dant prop­er­ties. How­ever, when you ob­tain se­le­nium from nat­u­ral foods its ef­fec­tive­ness is op­ti­mised, and there’s no phys­i­o­log­i­cal ev­i­dence that sug­gests ad­di­tional se­le­nium sup­ple­men­ta­tion will in­crease your body’s an­tiox­i­dant po­ten­tial.

Most re­search on mul­ti­vi­ta­min sup­ple­ments is fi­nan­cially driven and there­fore biased. Plus, stud­ies are car­ried out on the well-fed West­ern pop­u­la­tion. To tell us some­thing of worth, clin­i­cal tri­als should be con­ducted in, say, sub-Sa­ha­ran

NO says Dr Save­rio Stranges, as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of car­dio­vas­cu­lar epi­demi­ol­ogy at the Uni­ver­sity of War­wick and con­sul­tant physi­cian in public health medicine

TAfrica where there are macronu­tri­ent de­fi­cien­cies.

If any­thing, ev­i­dence shows po­ten­tial ad­verse ef­fects of vi­ta­min sup­ple­ments. One study on vi­ta­min E and se­le­nium was stopped af­ter peo­ple tak­ing the for­mer ex­pe­ri­enced higher can­cer risks and those tak­ing the lat­ter ex­pe­ri­enced in­creased risks in re­gards to di­a­betes. A num­ber of stud­ies from Johns Hop­kins Uni­ver­sity in the US show sim­i­lar risks from high doses of vi­ta­min A and vi­ta­min E sup­ple­ments. It’s fright­en­ing when sup­ple­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers ig­nore this re­search for fi­nan­cial ben­e­fit.

The bot­tom line is – with the pos­si­ble ex­cep­tion of vi­ta­min D – you prob­a­bly get enough mi­cronu­tri­ents from diet. Top­ping up with mul­ti­vi­ta­mins will burn a hole in your pocket at best, and neg­a­tively af­fect your health at worse.

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