Take Your Multivitamins; There Is Consensus!
In any case, this is the latest conclusion of a joint effort by 14 experts in nutrition
science, from all over the world, on the potential health benefits of multivitamin
and mineral supplements (MVM).
To clarify the role of MVMs in maintaining the health of individuals, doctors
reviewed the literature and established a series of issues worthy of discussion.
For each item discussed, consensus emerged that MVMs:
- Improve absorption of micronutrients when formulated and dosed properly;
- Help treat diseases caused by nutritional deficiencies;
- Provide benefits, even when taken in doses greater than the recommended
daily allowance (RDA);
- Are effective for the prevention of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular
diseases and cancer; and
- Improve the health status of people with disorders that cause micronutrient
We Are All Lacking, More or Less, a Few Nutrients
By now, you’re asking: “What’s new under the sun?” Why does this concern you?
Ah! well, let’s just say that, in these times of all different sorts of lifestyles and
consumerism ever-forging ahead, it never hurts to remember the proven fact that
our diets, no matter what they are (whether standard American, traditional, vegan,
keto, macro, paleo, etc.), do not fully meet—and even less exceed—the needs of
the body for certain nutrients. Therefore, beware of ideologies and those that rely
on RDAs, because they are clearly insufficient for most of us. This is what
naturopath pioneers Murray and Pizzorno have proclaimed in North America for
nearly 30 years. Part of the problem emerged after the war, with not only the
advent of intensive agriculture that is washing away the Earth’s natural resources,
but also with the globalization of trade. For example, an apple or an apricot picked
while it is still green contains almost no vitamin C, and then there is the treatment
needed for the thousands of kilometers they must travel. To raise awareness of
these problems, agricultural engineer Bourguignon, who is committed to more
intelligent and reasonable agriculture, travels the globe and sounds the alarm to
whomever cares to hear about our society’s choices of industrialized food that are
leading to the impoverishment of the soil, and, subsequently, the lack of nutritional
value in our diet.
Oh, So Many Consequences!
Among them, a contemporary society which, frankly, is obese and paradoxically
suffers from severe nutritional deficiencies, which doctors and naturopaths
witness every day. But it is not just our food choices that affect the body’s
homeostasis, vitality, and ability to assimilate food. We know what it is, and you’ve
read and heard it hundreds of times: The chronic oxidative stress of our so-called
“modern” lifestyle (crazy, as some would say); exposure to chemicals, heavy metals,
radioactivity, and waves; overmedication; dysbiosis; lack of sun, rest, quality of life,
etc. Let’s face it: Apart from a few indomitable people, we are all concerned and
affected by subclinical deficiencies due to our lifestyles and our environment to
which we are inevitably exposed. The most common include magnesium; zinc; iron;
selenium; and vitamins B, C, and D; along with trace minerals and phytonutrients.
Using MVMs as Part of the Solution to Deficiencies
Taking good care of one’s diet and lifestyle is obviously the basis for fulfilling our
needs. We also have supplementation with modern MVM formulas which are
comprehensive; synergistic with minerals, vitamins, and nutraceuticals; and
adapted to our realities, personalities, and even biochemical individualities.
The SU.VI.MAX study (vitamin and mineral antioxidant supplementation ),
conducted from 1994 to 2003 in France
, tested the effect of intake of antioxidant
vitamins and minerals in doses close to those that could be expected from a
healthy diet. After seven and a half years, a 31% decrease in the risk of cancer
and a 37% decrease in the risk of death were observed.
It’s not uncommon nowadays to see people struggle, whether personally or
among those close to us, with leaky-gut syndrome, which leads to so many
deficiencies and inflammatory, autoimmune, and psychiatric diseases. MVM
supplementation is part of the first-line solutions for correcting these deficiencies,
along with other appropriate remedies and behaviour.
This said, bear in mind that dietary supplements only act as catalysts of the body’s
self-healing processes, or as potentiators for allopathic or traditional treatments. Also,
if the body’s capacities are exceeded, do not expect convincing results. It is always
useful, even with "multi” formulas, to seek the advice of a health-care practitioner.
You can therefore specify whether you are athletic, pregnant, suffering from
“workaholism,” severely sick, or just plain tired. You can even ask about types of
vitamins and dosages, and whether there are antioxidant complexes, sulfur
compounds, iron, vitamin A, etc.
What About Iron and Vitamin A Supplementation?
The question of supplementation with iron and vitamin A is still debated within the
scientific community. What we can take away is that—unless you have been
diagnosed with anemia or you are a woman of childbearing age, pregnant, or
affected by heavy menstrual cycles—you don’t need iron supplementation. Excess
iron oxidizes to such an extent that it has been singled out as a risk factor for
cardiovascular disease, cancer, and metabolic disorder. Although these links remain
to be confirmed, experts agree on the recommendation of limiting iron
supplementation and sticking to the recommended dietary intakes. The same goes
for fat-soluble vitamin A, which is regularly added to consumer products.
Supplementation should be strictly controlled, as hypervitaminosis A is toxic to the
liver, dangerous for fetuses, teratogenic at 7,500 mcg/d, and can lead to osteoporosis.
It’s therefore not recommended for self-medication, but rather used in developing
countries to treat deficiencies due to malnutrition. In short, because of these risks and
controversies, some companies prefer to rightly apply the precautionary principle and
offer iron- and vitamin A–free formulas.
MVMs and nutraceuticals, as well as probiotics and essential fatty acids, are the
recognized pillars of complementary micronutrition that should remain primarily
qualitative. So be sure to choose a formula, namely an MVM, which is well thought
out, certified, and meets your own needs, in addition to choosing local and seasonal
food as often as possible.
- Blumberg, J.B., et al. “The use of multivitamin/multimineral supplements: A
modified Delphi consensus panel report.” Clinical Therapeutics, Vol. 40, No. 4
- Hercberg, S., et al. “The SU.VI.MAX Study: A randomized, placebo-controlled
trial of the health effects of antioxidant vitamins and minerals.” Archives of
Internal Medicine, Vol. 164, No. 21 (2004): 2335–2342.
Guillaume Landry, MSc, Naturopath
A native of the Jura mountains of eastern France, he shares
his passion for the wonders of nature and natural medicine.