April 7, 2009

Multivitamin = Better Health?

Trying to incorporate healthier lifestyle changes often brings into question multivitamin use -- Should you take a daily multivitamin? Which of the many choices on the market is right for you? Fact is most Americans fall short of consuming many of the recommended nutrients necessary to maintain optimum health. Taking a basic daily multivitamin is a good preventive action. Convenience foods and fast foods are much to blame. We are busy and too often opt for the quick and easy when it comes to meals.

While Western countries are no longer afflicted with vitamin deficient disease such as scurvy (not enough vitamin C) or rickets (not enough vitamin D), degenerative diseases such as heart disease and osteoporosis are still on the rise. So, what's commonly missing in our diets? Less than 1 in 5 Americans consume enough vitamin E. Only 1 in 4 get enough vitamin K. And, fewer than 1/2 get enough vitamin A or calcium in their diet. It's these types of nutritional inadequacies that may be setting us up for the common degenerative diseases such as heart disease, osteoporosis, cancer and others. Simply taking a daily multivitamin is an easy, inexpensive way to bridge these nutritional gaps. It should be noted that a standard multivitamin will not contain enough calcium. A separate calcium supplement is advisable unless you truly include 3 to 4 servings of dairy in your diet every single day.

A basic multivitamin is one that doesn't go beyond 100% of the recommended amount. What about super formulas that go beyond the RDAs? Taking a supplement that goes above and beyond 100% can introduce new health problems. You will be consuming more than the recommended safe upper limit. What about taking more than one supplement formulation? Let's say you start taking high dose multivitamin and also want to take a separate antioxidant formula. You would potentially be getting more than 10,000 IU for vitamin A exceeding it's safe upper limit and this is not even counting the amount of vitamin A naturally consumed in your diet. Studies have shown over supplementing with one antioxidant can cause health risks. Taking a high dose multivitamin with a prostate formula or immune boosting formula could put your consumption of zinc over 50 mg ultimately interfering with copper absorption resulting in a copper deficiency! Bottom line -- extra nutritional supplementation does not = better health!

Summary ---
Eating a healthy, well balanced diet is the best defense against nutritionally related diseases. Including a basic daily multivitamin is recommended. Antioxidants can help prevent diseases when they come from food sources, but not excessive amounts via supplements which can actually have the opposite effect. Remember -- Fresh is best!

Written by: Laura S. Garrett, RD
-- Registered Dietitian & ACE Certified Personal Trainer
-- Keep Laura's advice at your fingertips, wherever you and your cell phone go with "Text ur R.D." -- Learn more at: http://www.NutrActive.com