Friday, March 2, 2007

Multivitamins. Do you need one?

The supplement industry is a multi billion dollar business and it continues to grow every year. People are often looking for a quick fix to their health needs and will turn to anything that promises a cure. I want to preface this post by warning those who are looking for any supplementation guidance, be it to improve general health, to find a fat loss aid or a muscle builder, to steer clear of the pro-shop in your local gym.

The trainers at large corporate gyms often times do not have enough education in nutrition and supplementation to accurately recommend the right supplements to compliment your fitness goal. They are usually pushers, trying to get the sale. More often than not, this is not to their fault, as the higher up's at corporate have set goals for them to achieve. One of these goals is to gross X amount of dollars in supplement sales. If a trainer does not meet this goal, their jobs are threatened and they are generally fired. A trainer who is pressured by management, wants to keep their job and increase their commission is not one to turn to for guidance in this aspect of health care.

This is also true for supplement retail stores too. They are there to do their job. Sell you on supplements. Walking in a store without having done any research on your own is like walking in the store with a bright red stamp on your forehead "I'll Take Your Word. You Take My Money". It sets you up for an empty wallet and a big bag of supplements that could lead to health problems rather than better health and wellness.

This is not to say that they are all bad people or that there aren't educated trainers that have your best interest in mind. It's just that they're few and far between.

So, please. First talk to your Doctor. Do your homework. Take the advice of trained professionals who are not getting kick backs, commissions or paychecks from supplement companies.

With all of that being said....Yes. You do need a multivitamin.

Nobody has a perfect diet. Even if you have great habits, with the way today's nutrition standards go, you're still probably eating some kind of processed food. If you're vegetarian, you're still lacking essential nutrients. It is almost too difficult to get all of your nutrient requirements from food alone. Food intakes account for approximately 60% of your nutrient needs, where a balanced antioxidant, multivitamin and mineral (separate calcium) make up the rest.

So what is the best multivitamin for you?

This is where you want to do a little bit of homework. You want to find a reputable company that has high standards and quality products. Supplements aren't regulated by the FDA, so companies can put orange peel shavings in a pill and call it vitamin C (you can email me for a list of a few trusted companies).

Just like with fitness goals, there's no short cut to optimum health. Be careful of one-a-day's and all inclusive vitamins that claim you get antioxidants, multivitamins and minerals in one dose. Iron is an oxidant. Vitamin C is an antioxidant. Taken together, they cancel each other out. You want to look for time released delivery systems. Otherwise, you're wasting your money. Literally. It's going straight into your toilet.

Nutrient deficiencies are common, but you can over do it too. Even essential nutrients are potentially toxic at some level of intake. The effects of some nutrients can be extremely serious. Among the vitamin category of nutrients, excess vitamin A, D, and B-6 can produce serious adverse effects and are commonly available in supplement form. Complete tables of the DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) values are available at the Food and Nutrition Board web site. The tables include the UL (Tolerable Upper Intake Level) values and brief descriptions of the adverse effects of excessive intake.

A good quality multivitamin can not only help you achieve your fitness goal, but help you achieve better overall health and wellness.


Jake Silver said...

I take a multi, fish oil, and Glucosamine/MSM every day. I hope it'll do some good.
I love the TONS of ads in Fitness magazines for all the latest supplements. Maybe some of them do work for those big bodybuilder people but I just need to be "in shape". And who can afford all that anyway?

Kristin said...

The supplement industry is big business, that's for sure. And not all of them are safe either.

It sounds like you've got a good balance though!

stefanierj said...

Great post. I admit my multi was bought at wal-mart and isn't time-released, so I'll probably have to do some research or have you recommend one--thanks for the info!