In recent years, multivitamins have become a new fad when it comes to health and nutrition. From possibly improving medical conditions to maintain health and beauty, these multivitamins are consumed for many reasons. But how useful are they?
Researchers at Harvard University looked at the effect of long-term multivitamin use in healthy men on various aspects of health. Here is what they found:
- Researchers found that Men who consumed multivitamins consistently were 8% less likely to be diagnosed with cancer. The protective effect was most remarkable in men with a history of cancer.
- When it came to vision, these men were at a lower risk of developing cataracts.
- Contrary to popular belief, this study found no protection against heart attacks, strokes, or death from cardiovascular disease.
- They also found that there was no protection against declining memory or mental skills.
- The same study conducted on women also found that those who took multivitamins actually had a higher risk of early death, contrary to the popular belief that taking these pills help you live longer.
A growing body of evidence today suggests that multivitamins offer little or nothing in the way of health benefits, and some studies suggest that high doses of specific vitamins might cause harm. Pregnant women need to be careful with taking vitamin A through multivitamins, as excess amounts have been linked to complications later on with the fetus. Supplementing yourself with high doses of certain nutrients can have harmful effects on your body. This is likely to occur if you take a high-potency multivitamin on top of a nutrient-dense diet.
However, some nutrients have been proven to be beneficial:
- Some recent studies have found that taking vitamin D supplements can reduce the chance of catching the flu, and in older adults, it can improve bone health and reduce the chance of fractures.
- Probiotics, either in the form of a supplement or a food naturally rich in bacteria, such as yoghurt consumed to replace the bacteria colonies in your gut could be a good idea.
- Vitamin B3 or niacin is taken up as a cure for conditions such as high cholesterol, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and headaches. Still, in most of these cases, a prescription-strength dose of niacin has been needed to show a precise result.
- When it comes to pregnant women and women of childbearing years, taking folic acid supplements is very beneficial, as it helps prevent birth defects, and are best absorbed in a supplement form.
Multivitamins are not a simple gateway to optimal health. If you are suffering from a nutrient deficiency, make sure to supplement with that specific nutrient only. Multivitamins most often pack many nutrients, most of which you don’t need—hence working on having a diet low in added sugars, processed foods and saturated and trans fats. Consuming lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy, Maintain a body mass index which is optimal to your body type, Remaining tobacco-free, Exercising most days of the week are much better options to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.