I found myself scratching my head this week at the following news headline: “Multivitamin researchers say ‘case is closed’ after studies find no health benefits.” Talk about throwing the baby out with the bathwater! The powerful statement was obviously intended to discourage us from using nutritional supplements as part of our personal nutrition plan. After hearing the report on the morning news, I had to know more. What specific multivitamin was studied? What vitamin types and doses were used? And how peculiar that enhancing essential nutrient intake would not enhance health… There had to be a logical explanation…. What I discovered was not surprising…
After analyzing the study, which used a highly advertised, low potency, one-a-day type multivitamin, I drew a different conclusion. “One a day, mass-marketed multivitamins that contain excessive amounts of synthetic folic acid and insufficient amounts of key nutrients are an outdated approach to supplementation. Case closed. Don’t consume one a day multivitamins that are low potency, outdated and potentially toxic. Period!”
Although I could give multiple examples of how this retail vitamin company has sacrificed quality for lower cost, let me explain two. The first is folic acid, one of the ingredients. Folic acid is not found in natural foods, although true folate is found in natural foods. Folic acid is a man-made, synthetic vitamin that is known to be associated with an increased risk of heart disease and cancer when over 200 mcg per day is consumed. The multivitamin studied contained 400 mcg of folic acid. Why would they include it in their formula? I guess we would have to ask them, but it is very inexpensive (draw your own conclusions) and “looks good” on a label. I recommend ONLY true Folate in supplements. Check your labels!
The second is magnesium. The formula studied contains 40 mg, just 13% of the RDA. Since 82% of Americans are magnesium deficient, this supplement is not potent enough to overcome the deficiency. A supplement should contain 300 mg in a day’s dose for adequacy. In effect, most patients in this research study were still deficient of key nutrients like magnesium when taking the one a day multi. It’s no wonder they did not do well. But to say all multivitamins have no value is contrary to decades of nutrition research.
This recent study and the news commentary have NOTHING to do with nutritional supplementation based on the most recent science-based research by experts in the field of nutrition. I decided to write this commentary on the story to explain why I still take my high potency, research-based vitamin/mineral/phytonutrient supplement on a daily basis (Metabolism Essentials Multi). Essential nutrient intake in optimum amounts is mandatory for optimum health. And the American diet is notoriously deficient nutritionally.
Literally thousands of research studies have been performed concluding that consuming optimum amounts of nutrients through food or supplements is ESSENTIAL for great health. That is why vitamins, essential minerals, and essential fatty acids are all considered ESSENTIAL for humans. That means we die without them! Remember that a health-promoting diet and lifestyle are crucial for optimum health. Supplements will never counteract the harmful effects of things like smoking, pollution, or eating deadly foods. I want to sound that message loud and clear. Maintain optimum body chemistry through great overall nutrition and then supplement based on your life stage, your health goals and your personal risks. Nurture your body at every opportunity!
Now, let’s consider more of the real facts on the issue by reviewing the article I wrote on this very issue earlier this year….
– Rick Tague, M.D., M.P.H.
Nutrient Deficiency in America: Avoid the Epidemic
“Malnutrition” – What comes to mind? If you are like me, it is the disturbing and painful image of the frail, fly-covered, “nothing but skin and bones”, impoverished children of Africa. After seeing the suffering, we’ve all sensed that tug on our hearts to do something. Malnutrition seems all too painful and all too unnecessary in this age of plenty.
What is just as disturbing to me, however, and even more ignored, is the flourishing epidemic of malnutrition in America. And yes, you are likely a victim of this ignored and “hidden” epidemic. Let me explain…
You see, this epidemic is hidden within bodies that are often OVER nourished with calories and therefore overweight! That’s right, it’s not calorie malnutrition, it is nutrient deficiency malnutrition, and it can be just as painful and deadly, while not as obvious, as those pictures from Africa. As an American, you can be virtually assured from scientific research that you have been an unwilling participant in this epidemic.
To avoid this epidemic, health-seeking individuals should embrace two simple, but effective strategies to make certain they consume every essential nutrient every day. And the good news is that these strategies are straightforward, available, and effective.
First, here are 3 Undeniable Facts that you likely have NEVER heard regarding the epidemic of malnutrition in America…
FACT #1: Essentially ALL Americans are malnourished if they are relying on available foods to get their essential vitamins and minerals.
From now on, when you think of malnutrition in America, I want you to picture an overweight, tired, depressed, sluggish, medication-taking American! This is the typical picture of America’s current malnutrition epidemic!
Research from 2006 in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition showed that the food intake analyzed from 20 out of 20 Americans did not meet the Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA) for vitamins and minerals. In other words, of the 20 people studied, 100% were malnourished for essential vitamins and minerals! Malnutrition is no longer the exception, it is the “norm” in America!
FACT #2: Malnutrition in America WILL NOT and CAN NOT be solved by simply “eating right” with available American foods.
Did you get that? What we’ve been taught all these years, that eating our fruits and vegetables is all we need to do to get our vitamins and minerals is NOT TRUE!
This very important controversial question was rather quietly answered in 2006. Research analyzed 70 individuals, including athletes, who were seeking to improve their vitamin and mineral intake from food choices. Each of the 70 diets analyzed fell short of the RDA for vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. In fact, these motivated individuals, trying their best, were still deficient in 40.5% of the nutrients analyzed! And again, 100% of the individuals were not achieving the minimum daily RDA for all vitamins and minerals!
Astonishingly, follow-up research in 2010 showed that on popular diets, with common foods, nutrient needs could only be met if individuals consumed 27,575 calories worth of food each day! Conclusion: “Eating right” is not the solution! We simply cannot eat enough of our available foods to get the recommended nutrients!
FACT #3: Nutrient deficiencies matter.
Are you alarmed by the above facts? If not, you should be. It really does matter! It takes only ONE nutrient deficiency to damage our entire metabolism! Further, my experience tells me there are very painful outcomes (that I see regularly in my medical practice) that are a direct result of “undernutrition” for vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. Obesity is just one! In fact, there is an 80.8% increased likelihood of becoming overweight in those with nutrient deficiencies!
Fatigue, depression, high cholesterol, elevated blood pressures, high blood sugars, weight gain, stroke, heart disease, osteoporosis, and cancer risks are just a few of the other medical disasters that are associated with deficiencies of key essential nutrients.
Now you know the bad news, so what’s the good news in all this?
It absolutely IS possible to KNOW that you are getting all your recommended essential nutrients.
How? And what are the recommended strategies to solve this problem?
Strategy #1: Eat wisely!
Yes, DO eat those 7-10 servings of fruits and vegetables daily along with other nutrient-rich foods. Eat and enjoy. Supplements should always compliment, not replace, a proper diet. Some things you just can’t put in a bottle… Health-promoting, nutrient-rich foods should dominate your meals and snacks every day, multiple times a day!
Strategy #2: Supplement wisely, daily, and long-term.
You now know why I recommend everyone, regardless of age or weight category, have a personal plan for taking nutritional supplements. There really is no other way to consume all the recommended essential nutrients that our bodies require (mandate) for Optimum Health.
You also now know why I created our Essential Nutrients Package and why I named it such! Based on available research regarding our need for vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids, our Metabolism Essentials, Cal Mag Essentials and Omega 3 Essentials (in the Essential Nutrients Package) contain all the key “essential” micronutrients that our bodies need.
Other supplement options are out there and available. But, if you have not already, please consider starting a comprehensive, high quality, research-based nutrient supplement plan. Then take it daily and long-term, especially as you age and disease risks can increase.
Proper nutrition cannot be ignored as an essential ingredient for Optimum Health. Modern science has identified the essential nutrients for us so we no longer have lack of knowledge as an excuse. Decide on a plan, embrace it, then you will KNOW for certain that you absolutely ARE getting your essential nutrients each and every day…
For Optimum Health,
Rick Tague, M.D., M.P.H.