Bad news gummy bears
Run for your lives! The multis are coming!
That can only mean one thing, of course -- it's time for another comically feeble "exposé" of the imagined dangers, drawbacks, and pointlessness of multivitamins.
Unfortunately, these occasional articles that slam multis serve just one purpose: they dupe the unwary into thinking there's no point in taking multivitamin supplements.
That's why I find this junk journalism so disturbing. It can actually be harmful to your health.
This newest multi-bashing article comes from Kiera Butler, a Mother Jones columnist who usually covers ecology issues.
Right away, Ms. Butler demonstrates her deep knowledge of dietary supplements with the admission that she started taking a multivitamin when Target began selling gummy bear multis for adults.
"Ever since," she says, she's been "getting my daily candy fix while ostensibly improving my health."
So, right away it's pretty obvious we're not dealing with Linus Pauling here.
I'll run down three of the key shots Ms. Butler takes on multivitamins…
Shot One: She quotes the noted nutritionist Marion Nestle who says that one of the reasons multis aren't necessary is because vitamin deficiency is quite rare in the U.S. I'm actually shocked that someone of Nestle's stature would say that. Nutritionists are in wide agreement that vitamin D deficiency is a chronic problem that appears to play a role in many diseases. Vitamin C is also difficult to keep at sufficient levels because it's expelled from the body so quickly. And virtually all vegetarians risk B-12 deficiency if they don't use a supplement.
Shot Two: Butler cites two studies that concluded multis don't protect against heart disease or lung, breast, and colon cancers.
That's because multivitamins are not magic anti-cancer or anti-heart disease pills (no -- not even gummy bear multis).
But certain vitamins and minerals in multis DO support heart health and help strengthen the immune system to fight chronic diseases such as cancer. The larger point these studies miss is that we take multis for a wide variety of health issues: cognitive health, vision health, bone health, digestive health, and prevention of type 2 diabetes, to name just a few. And all these issues have been shown to be supported by multivitamin use.
One more point about those two studies -- in neither of them was a multivitamin tested against a placebo. In other words, these were not "gold standard" studies, they were observational trials where subjects were given lengthy questionnaires when they were first recruited. Multivitamin use was just one question among many, so it's absurd to link multi use to a lack of survival in those chronic diseases.
Shot Three: Multis may not be safe.
In this section, Butler provides a link to a National Institutes of Health website about multivitamin/mineral supplements (MVM) where you'll find this quote: "Taking a basic MVM is unlikely to pose any risks to health."
'Nuff said. But I've got to say it: hilarious!
Butler's arguments against multis are paper-thin. And yet, she's completely convinced one person: herself. She says, "Given all of this, I've decided to give up my daily vitamin regimen—and spend the money I save on good old unfortified gummy bears."
So, you're going to stop taking your multivitamin and increase your daily candy intake?
Related articles of interest:
About the author
Jenny Thompson is the Director of the Health Sciences Institute and editor of the HSI e-Alert. Through HSI, she and her team uncover important health information and expose ridiculous health misinformation, most notably through the HSI e-Alert.
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