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Posted December 18, 2013: by Bill Sardi
Most multivitamins are poorly formulated, weakly dosed and unbalanced and are missing key nutrients to maintain health and there is no conceivable way they would meaningfully reduce disease-related mortality rates. The authors of the study said: “in most cases data are insufficient to draw any conclusion.” And ironically, if multivitamins were in fact found to reduce death rates, they would be declared drugs by the Food & Drug Administration!
The study concedes the multivitamins under analysis didn’t even raise blood levels of vitamin E, C, selenium or zinc. The only multivitamin data analyzed among women provided only five nutrients and authors of the report said “it could be argued there are no data on a true multivitamin for women.”
Furthermore, an accompanying study which concludes that 12-year use of multivitamins by physicians over age 65 provide no benefits in regard to age-related brain disease. However, prominent Harvard nutritionist Walter Willett has noted previously that no brain benefits for beta carotene supplements were shown at 12 years in another study – it took 18 years before a measurable benefit showed up!
And in yet another study published in the same edition of the Annals of Internal Medicine that concluded high-dose multivitamins did not statistically reduce heart attacks among patients after they had experienced a first heart attack, half of the subjects in that study stopped taking their vitamins, which should nullify any conclusions.
These meta-analyses, as they are called, involving large studies simply provide no meaningful instruction to individuals. They can only be used to develop health strategies such as food fortification. These studies do not address individuals with nutrient deficiencies, which are rampant. Yet mindless reporters write headline articles today that mischaracterize the best weapon against nutrient-related deficiencies – the multivitamin.
Having formulated multivitamins for a major supplier and having written a book on how to rate multivitamins, first let me say that the recent multivitamin analysis published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (no study was conducted, this is an analysis of previously published studies) compares so many brands of multivitamins that provide different arrays, doses and types of essential nutrients that makes any conclusions moot. Most of these brands of multivitamins were formulated years ago and do not address currently known science.
For example, the Vitamin D Council suggests 4000 IU (international units) of vitamin D to sufficiently raise blood levels, but most of the multivitamins in the recently published analysis provided no more than 400 IU.
The same goes for vitamin C. Provision of a single paltry dose of vitamin C once a day for this water soluble vitamin that is readily excreted would not raise blood levels significantly over a 24-hour day.
Steve Hickey PhD of Manchester, England has demonstrated 500 mg of vitamin C must be taken to significantly raise blood levels of vitamin C and then repeated 5 times in a day.
Furthermore, multivitamins may or may not reduce disease-related death rates, but they do make up for gaps in the highly processed food American diet and presumably prevent many prevalent dietary deficiencies (vitamin B12, vitamin B1, vitamin C, magnesium, zinc) that it would be unfair to characterize them as a waste of money.
And let’s not hear that all the nutrients needed for health can be acquired from a good diet. The National Institutes of Health 5-A-Day plant food diet did not reduce mortality rates for cancer or heart disease and the currently recommended 9-13 servings a day recommendation is unproven.
The multivitamin/mortality analysis was conducted among well nourished physicians with no health problems or known nutrient deficiencies. Gladys Block, professor of nutrition at University of California Berkeley, says none of these studies accurately represents the American population.
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