Your Vitamins Don’t Work

Every where you turn in the media (and supermarket) you are being sold on the latest and greatest nutrient and supplement. Vitamin and Mineral sales are though the roof (+$20 billion per year) and all those companies want your money.

But do vitamins even work?

Think about it for a second. You probably take a multivitamin everyday (or almost every day). How to you know it is working? Maybe you take a specific vitamin or mineral each day – Vitamin C, Beta-Carotene, Vitamin B-6. Why do you take these? How do you know that they are working?

These are questions that many people don’t ask or don’t care to; they just blindly take their vitamins because the bottle says “aids in healthy energy metabolism”. It is important to realize that most ‘claims’ on vitamin bottles are based on biochemical pathways and not studies done in humans. For example, particular vitamins are needed for your body to turn glucose into energy. Once you have adequate amounts of these vitamins MORE doesn’t make your body better at converting glucose to energy – they don’t tell you this on the label.

Supplementing with individual vitamins usually doesn’t do anything. In fact one study showed that beta-carotene supplementation negatively impacted the health of smokers (yes, taking the supplement decreased their health). Let’s look at another vitamin – the coveted vitamin E. If you look at the results from 19 different trials you’d see that daily high dose vitamin E supplementation (>400 I.U. which is normally 2 capsules) for a year or more led to an increase in mortality!

In 1998, the US government added folic acid to the ‘fortification list’ in order to help prevent neural tube defects (neural tube defects can be caused when a pregnant mother has a folic acid deficiency). The good news is that the incidence of neural tube defects has decreased by as much as 50%. The bad news is that this increase in folic acid consumption may be leading to increased and accelerated dementia in the elderly (due to undiagnosed vitamin B12 deficiency which is hidden by excessive folic acid intakes).

The lax regulations of the Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act have allowed for many unscrupulous companies to have a field day producing garbage supplement and vitamin blends while putting ridiculous claims on labels that hide behind “This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease”? disclaimer.

When taking vitamins, minerals, or any other dietary supplement it is important to do your research. Know that the supplement industry is not well regulated. Only do business with quality and reputable companies. And most of all use supplements to ‘supplement’ your intake. No one got sicker by eating too much spinach.

For more truth on dietary supplements just go to http://www.strongfitandhealthy.com and I’ll ship you (for free) the dvd “The Truth About Dietary Supplements” (you just need to cover $4.95 S&H – pretty good deal huh?).

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23 Responses to Your Vitamins Don’t Work

  1. Isaac Church July 30, 2009 at 12:29 pm #

    I can’t say I agree with those studies. Correlation is not causation, and the simple fact is that most diets are inadequate for all the things the body needs. I’d rather take more than enough to be sure the body has all it needs. Sure some (maybe even a lot at times) of it goes to waste, but the portion that doesn’t is important. I also think you’re much better off using supplements, along with a good diet and exercise to stay healthy, than to use prescription drugs, which do actual damage to the body. I’d love to see more research in this area, but unfortunately a lot of research is biased by those paying for it.

    • Mike Roussell July 31, 2009 at 1:09 pm #

      Isaac,

      I agree that correlation is not causation. You are right in that a good diet and exercise is better than drugs. Using a multivitamin is okay (and I recommend it). Megadosing specific vitamins is usually a waste.

      -Mike

  2. rich July 30, 2009 at 12:37 pm #

    i have been taking coral calcium powder, and i find that it helps calm my stomach. originally i was hoping it would help make my body “less acidic”, but it also seems to calm my skin down, too.

    interestingly, i re-read my metabolic typing test results and discovered that parasympathetic dominant fast oxidizers should take in more calcium. i don’t know how accurate that is, but the effect it has on my stomach alone is well worth it.

    oh and no multi-vitamins for me.

    • Markus July 30, 2009 at 7:55 pm #

      Coral calcium, metabolic typing, and trying to make your body “less acidic” are all things that have no science behind them. Be wary of spending time and money on any of them.

  3. Karen July 30, 2009 at 12:39 pm #

    That is absolutely true about vitamins, but few people know the truth–though I have recently read several articles like this, including one on the front page of the Boston Globe.

    There are over 14,500 phytonutrients that scientists have identified (so far!) in the plant foods that humans consume. How many of these are contained in a vitamin pill? Only a few. Not only that, but the phytochemicals in plants work synergistically, so that the tiny amount of vitamin C in an apple will do more for a body than 1,000 mg of C in a pill.

    The only supplements I take are Omega-3s, Vitamin D because I live in a northern climate, and JuicePlus+, which is food in a capsule. There are some green supplements out there but JuicePlus+, in 6 capsules a day, gives a person 27 veggies, fruits, berries and grains, the complete rainbow. And for those limiting carbs, virtually all sugar removed. The difference with JP+ is the 14 clinical medical studies primary to JP+, not on its ingredients. JP+’s quality in processing is well-documented–vine-ripened, pure produce, juiced, dehydrated in less than 30 seconds…

    Whole food is really the key!

    BTW, I am one week into the WARP plan and it is working like a charm!

    • Mike Roussell July 31, 2009 at 1:10 pm #

      Karen,

      You are right on the money. Whole foods are the key. All the nutrients we don’t know about plus their beneficial interactions with each other make them waaay better. Glad you are loving Warp speed Fat Loss.

      -Mike

    • Jason October 13, 2010 at 2:44 pm #

      If JuicePlus+ is so great then why do they add vitamins to it now. Was it because they tested it and found out that it is deficient in essential vitamins? I am very suspicious of juiceplus+ because they don't list ingredient amounts on the bottle. I had to leave the company as a result. Those studies you speak of are also flawed if you look at them closer. I suggest you do some independent analysis not just what JuicePlus+ sends you in the mail with your order. How about that Children's Health Study that they never posted the results of yet. Is that because they just want to use the study to get parents to buy the supplements so the kids get the free ones? I think so. Eat real fruits and vegetables people. Juice plus is very likely just dehydrated fruit and vegetable pulp with little quality ingredients. Sad but true.

  4. Bill Freidig July 30, 2009 at 12:39 pm #

    I find the information very interesting. I would like to see more on the details of the research. I always find it interesting that when someone makes a claim to research there is most likely something else behind it. Like selling a book or program. I have purchased the Naked Nutrition book and find it very good, but I would have rather had received the information without the selling portion tagged with it. Everything seems to come from again a biased opionion from those promoting.

    • Mike Roussell July 31, 2009 at 1:13 pm #

      Bill,

      Thanks for the comments. Unfortunately just about everything comes with bias at some level. I know I am guilty of that as well at times. This post was meant to me a little more ‘aggressive’ than most – more to stir up discussion than anything else. What I really try to do is learn a lot about a topic and then share with you guys the key points and strategies. If I included everything most people would get bored and stop reading :)

      -Mike

  5. Alisdair July 31, 2009 at 3:20 am #

    Hmm. Interesting, however I’m sure, in one of his video blogs recently, Mike was talking about a study that showed sunjects had a considerable length to their life when they took a regular multivitamin. Can’t remember the exact details but hopefully Mike can remember.

    • Mike Roussell July 31, 2009 at 1:14 pm #

      You are right about that video blog. I didn’t mean to say that taking a vitamin in every situation is worthless. At the end of the video blog on vitamins and longevity I recommend a whole foods based vitamin in small doses as an insurance policy on your health.

      -Mike

  6. judy July 31, 2009 at 9:42 am #

    vitamins that are synthetic in nature are useless. if one looks further into the form of vitamin used in the studies- 1) they were synthetic, and 2) they were wrong form.

    the most protective form of e is the gamma form. and in proper dosing and form is cancer protective. i think one is best served by finding out for themselves what the studies neglect to tell us.

    • Mike Roussell July 31, 2009 at 1:15 pm #

      The gamma isoform of vitamin is does have some really interesting research behind it.

      -Mike

  7. Dr. Eliezer Ben-Joseph July 31, 2009 at 12:25 pm #

    Another so called nutritionist telling us to be careful about vitamins, with even a scientific study no less. Both of those studies have been discredited by every natural nutrition group in the world. The studies cited used SYNTHETIC VITAMINS WITH SYNTHETIC COLORING DYES. Natural mixed vitamin E in EVERY STUDY done showed the very opposite of what Mike Roussell posts. The same is true for natural mixed carotenoids. Mike is nothing more than a provocateur to sell his own stuff. You cannot get the nutrients from today’s food.

    YOU MUST GET ALL 91 NUTRIENTS PER DAY OR YOU WILL DIE YOUNG
    60 MINERIALS
    16 VITAMINS
    12 AMINO ACIDS
    3 FATTY ACIDS

    • Mike Roussell July 31, 2009 at 1:17 pm #

      Dr. Eliezer,

      Thanks for your comments. I think we agree more than we disagree here. You are correct in that synthetic vitamins seem to be where the problem lies. I wasn’t saying that beta-carotene is bad as in the study I reference the group that increased their intake of beta-carotene containing foods saw improvements.

      -Mike

      P.S. No need to write in all caps. I feel like you are YELLING AT ME.

  8. Josh July 31, 2009 at 3:13 pm #

    I agree with you Mike about synthetic supplements. The difference between nutrients found in food and synthetic supplements is night and day. For example, both preformed vitamin A and beta carotene (as you pointed out) have had terrible results in studies, whereas the mixed carotenoids found naturally in fruits and vegetables consistently show disease fighting characteristics in the studies.

    Folate from food is healthful, but folic acid (the synthetic version) has been shown to increase the risk of various cancers through increasing cell division rates.

    Too much copper has been linked to increased risk of dementia, and we are all getting more copper than in the past because of the increased use of copper piping. Too little selenium is bad, but even just a touch above the RDI has been shown in studies to possibly increase risk of diabetes.

    Clearly we are better getting our nutrients from food, but it is almost impossible to get all your nutrients just from a good diet . So a good supplement is still important, but a food-based supplement is what we should be taking.

    As for juice plus, that is clearly nowhere near a replacement for a multivitamin. It is very expensive for what it is, and certainly does not have the nutrients we are commonly deficient in like Vitamin B-12, Vitamin D etc.

    Best,
    Josh

  9. Esp Ghia August 1, 2009 at 9:00 pm #

    It turns out that those studies about Vit E were done with synthetic Vit E with only one tocopherol. Natural E with mixed tocopherols (i.e., from the whole Vit E complex) seem to conclude very positive results.

    In any case, most vitamins you find at your health store or supermarket are junk. They contain inferior ingredients and have been processed incorrectly. For example, one of the leading brands of Vit C is 10% oxidised! So much for avoiding free radicals. There are very few brands worth buying (I won’t plug them) and they are very hard to obtain outside of the U.S.

    Cheers,

    Esp.

  10. Anya August 2, 2009 at 4:10 am #

    Is it really true that we can’t get all the vitamins and other compounds we need for health from a decent diet? Where did that statement originate from? To me it sounds like what people trying to sell supplements or those too lazy to get a ‘balanced’ diet would say.

  11. JMJ August 2, 2009 at 10:09 pm #

    Mike, can you give some examples of synthetic vitamins vs. food based vitamins. For example, can you list a few brand names? Thanks.

  12. Josh August 3, 2009 at 10:00 am #

    Anya: Certainly people can get all the vitamins from their diet if they put a ton of energy and time into planning their diets everyday. But, the data shows that most of us don’t get all our nutrients from food. This is further complicated by the need for nutrients that studies show we are drastically deficient in as a society, such as Vitamin D. We can get this from the sun, but for a lot of the country, there are a good 6 months where the sun isn’t a sufficient source because you are too far north from the equator. So D is great to supplement. Others have a hard time extracting b12 from food, which may make this another supplement worth taking. Other nutrients that may be hard to get include zinc, selenium, magnesium etc. Again, you can get all your nutrients from food and environment, but you have to be paying very good attention to do so.

    JMJ — Supplements like centrum, one-a-day, flinstones are all synthetic. There is only one supplement I have found where you get all the nutrients from actual whole foods — VITAFORCE. Other food-based supplements (where the nutrients are derived from foods) include Vitamin Code and New Chapter products.

  13. JMJ August 3, 2009 at 9:09 pm #

    Thanks Josh for the examples. I will look into these brands.

    And thanks Mike for the article, learn something new everyday.

  14. carl July 6, 2010 at 9:52 pm #

    hmmm… do you think a multivitamin like the one sold at prograde Nutrition is not worth taking If I follow your 6 pillars?

    • mikeroussell July 6, 2010 at 10:31 pm #

      The idea is that if you do follow the 6 Pillars then you don't need a multivitamin/mineral because you'll be eating enough 'good' food to cover all your bases. But you can't always be sure, that is why I recommend using a vitamin for insurance reasons. Whole foods based multivitamins (like the Prograde one) are the better choice.

      The prograde one (and most whole foods based vitamins) aren't cheap, so don't break the bank just for a multi. But it is a good idea if you can afford it.

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