(October 26, 2012 UPDATE! The Doctor's addressed the multivitamin study just this Wednesday! Read #11 at the bottom of this post.)
This week Dr. Travis asked the audience if vitamin supplements are good or bad for us. He basically said that they're bad, because there was a study that showed that women who took multivitamins had an increased risk of mortality, or rather, died earlier than those who did not supplement. The study he was referring to is FLAWED! It is a scare tactic that the media perpetuates! Here's an article that de-bunks it: http://www.muscleandbodymag.com/special-report/scare-tactics/
The day after the Doctor's show with Dr. Travis, a new study came out that said that multivitamin use in men lowered their chance of prostate cancer! http://www.sacbee.com/2012/10/17/4918480/study-multivitamins-may-lower.html
So which is it? Are vitamins good or bad for you? Well, that depends on how you take them. If you take too much, as in megadoses, yes, they could be bad for you. If you take them thinking that you don't have to worry about your poor diet, they're probably not good, because you're relying on a pill instead of healthful foods, and that will cause you problems down the road. If you take them as an insurance policy to your ever-improving diet, I believe they're good for you!
***I'm not a doctor or nutritionist, but I've read a lot of the top books on supplements, so I want to just put out a disclaimer to always talk to your doctor about supplements!!!***
My Vitamin and Mineral 101 tips:
1) If you are going to take a multivitamin/multimineral supplement, find one that is made from real, whole foods. They are much pricier, but they are made using real foods, not ingredients from a lab. Check out your local vitamin store, and ask them for the vitamins made from real foods. Make sure your multivitamin/multimineral supplement contains:
vitamin A (if you're worried about vitamin A toxicity, get a supplement that has only beta carotene, which is safe and non-toxic)
all the B vitamins (B1: thiamine, B2: riboflavin, B3: niacin, B5: pantothenic acid, B6: pyridoxine, B7: biotin, B9: folic acid, B12: various cobalmins--actually, methylcobalamin is touted as being the best, but usually supplements contain cyanocobalamin)
vitamin E (look for the natural form, which starts with a d-, NOT dl-, which is synthetic)
iodine (very important if you do not consume seafood, sea vegetables, or use a lot of iodized salt!)
As for the amounts, if you want to be more on the safe side, look for ones that contain no more than 100% of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA). If you've talked to your doctor and need more of one supplement, make sure the multivitamin/multimineral supplement has the amount you want, which could be over 100%, or if you can't find one that does, get a separate supplement.
2) Men and women: Take a multivitamin WITHOUT IRON. The reason being, if you take a multivitamin that includes iron, not only does the iron not get properly absorbed because of the calcium in the multivitamin (they interact with each other), it competes with the antioxidants in the multivitamin. Remember, iron is pro-oxidant (not a good thing) and vitamins A, C, E, and selenium are anti-oxidants (good for you!). So, you end up wasting your money on the supplement, as well as possibly causing harm if you do not need iron.
3) More on Iron: Only take iron if you have the go-ahead from your doctor (after he/she determines you are deficient), and make sure you are closely monitored while taking iron. Too much iron, again, has the possibility to create free radicals in your body, and can result in big diseases like heart disease and cancer. If your doctor gives you the go-ahead, take iron alone at a different time of day than you take your multivitamin/multimineral supplement.
4) Most people actually get enough calcium in their diets. Supplementing with megadoses is extremely harmful to your health! Here are my past blogs on the dangers of too much calcium:
If you must supplement with calcium, please find a low-dose supplement that includes a balance of magnesium and vitamin D, and calculate just how much calcium you are getting from food and, subsequently, how many milligrams you need to take. I get my low dose calcium/magnesium/vitamin D supplements at The Vitamin Shoppe. And I usually do not end up needing to take it because I end up getting enough calcium through food!
5) Most people are magnesium deficient! There's a whole host of problems that people go to the doctor for, and he/she ususally prescribes a medication, or two, or three, when the patient could be "cured" by getting enough magnesium!!! I have such a strong opinion on magnesium that I will say that if there is just one supplement you want to take, make it magnesium!!! Here's everything you need to know about magnesium:
6) A study came out about megadoses of vitamin C that stated that they were possibly harmful in that they may release free radicals in the body, again, very bad! Vitamin C, when used correctly, is a potent antioxidant! When taken daily, it can prevent viral, bacterial, and yeast infections. I've read that anywhere between 60 mg and 500 mg is safe for most people. My doctor has given me the okay to take up to 1,000 mg daily in split doses. Caution: Take 1,000 mg ++++ at your own risk. Too much causes stomach pain, gas, and diarrhea.
7) Most people are deficient in ZINC! Think about it. Do you eat oysters, wheat germ, liver, crab, pumpkin seeds, watermelon seeds, lamb, or 1 cup of peanuts (that's way too many peanuts, by the way)??? If you do, that's great, you probably don't need to supplement with zinc! Zinc is extremely important when it comes to a strong immune system! Zinc, though, in the form of zinc oxide is poorly absorbed, so if your multi states that it has 15 mg of zinc oxide, you may want to supplement with zinc gluconate, the best form of zinc. You can actually get zinc gluconate in a zinc lozenge, which is exactly what I take every day (I take one Cold-Eeze lozenge a day, which has 13.3 mg of zinc)! More info on vitamin C and zinc (my previous blog): http://www.thedoctorstv.com/GreenFish/posts/14232-Vitamin-C-and-Zinc
8) I DO agree with Dr. Travis that we should be getting our nutrients from foods, so I urge everyone to research different vitamins and minerals to see which foods contain a high amount of nutrients! Just Google whatever nutrient you want to find out more about, for example, "foods high in iron," or "foods high in vitamin C." It is always better to get your nutrients from fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, beans, legumes, and whole grains!
Here's my regimen: Because I am nearly vegan, I take a "made-from-real-food" multivitamin, a high-potency B complex supplement, a sublingual B12 methylcobalamin supplement, a vitamin D 1,000 I.U. supplement, a low-dose vitamin C supplement, and my can't-live-without magnesium supplement (800 mg a day...a megadose that is safe and effective for my situation--I'm on birth control hormones which depletes magnesium and I have a chronic muscle spasm!). I also take a zinc gluconate lozenge every day. I get all of my calcium, potassium, and vitamin E through foods, and I try to get all of my iron through foods, but will take 18 mg of iron only for a few days during my period if need be. I also eat foods high in beta carotene, B vitamins, and vitamin C. My latest blood test showed that I was within normal levels for everything including vitamin D!
9) On that same notion, before starting any supplement, do your research on what is the safe amount to take. Vitamins and minerals can be helpful in the right amounts, and toxic in the wrong amounts.
10) My other related blogs:
Beat a cold virus: http://www.thedoctorstv.com/GreenFish/posts/14142-How-We-Beat-a-Cold-Virus-
Iron: Use extreme caution: http://www.thedoctorstv.com/GreenFish/posts/14238-Iron-Supplements-Use-extreme-caution
Possibly deficiencies to look out for if vegan/vegetarian: http://www.thedoctorstv.com/GreenFish/posts/14226-For-those-considering-becoming-vegetarian
Instead of antibiotics, build your immunity! http://www.thedoctorstv.com/GreenFish/posts/14273-Antibiotic-causes-sudden-death-heart-attack
Medications cause vitamin and/or mineral deficiencies!!!
11) UPDATE! On Wednesday, October 24, 2012, at the end of the show, The Doctors all talked about this multivitamin study that Dr. Travis had mentioned the week prior. They said that there's always going to be a study showing that something is positive, and there's always going to be a study that comes out and shows something is negative.
They mentioned the findings of this particular study showed some negative effects with women (regarding iron, which they didn't mention, at least I didn't hear them mention how iron was the mineral that caused the negative effects), but that those in the study who supplemented with calcium reduced their risk of death. The Doctors also mentioned that the study showed that women who supplmented ATE A BETTER DIET and had a lower body mass index than those who did not supplement. Here's the article again: http://www.muscleandbodymag.com/special-report/scare-tactics/
The Doctors also mentioned the latest study about men and multivitamins that I had mentioned above, that it reduced the risk of prostate cancer in men. I liked when Dr. Ordon said to Dr. Travis, "See, I've been telling you all these years!" I'm glad that they mentioned it more in detail, giving the whole picture, instead of last week with Dr. Travis, when he said that in a general statement that vitamins were bad for you.