The Multivitamin Debate: A Second (And Third) Opinion

Posted on: 5:49 pm, December 18, 2013, by , updated on: 08:54pm, December 18, 2013

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - “Enough” with the multivitamins already.

That’s the message from doctors behind three new studies and an editorial that tackled an oft-debated question in medicine: Do daily multivitamins make you healthier?

After reviewing the available evidence and conducting new trials, the authors have come to a conclusion of “no.”

“We believe that the case is closed — supplementing the diet of well-nourished adults with (most) mineral or vitamin supplements has no clear benefit and might even be harmful,” concluded the authors of the editorial summarizing the new research papers, published Dec. 16 in the Annals of Internal Medicine. “These vitamins should not be used for chronic disease prevention. Enough is enough.”

They went on to urge consumers to not “waste” their money on multivitamins.

Some may find the categorical, blanket statement a hard pill to swallow, so to speak. WHNT News 19 sought out a local dietician to ask for a second opinion.

“A multivitamin is a supplement so it should supplement a healthy diet, it should not replace a healthy diet.”

Registered and licensed dietician Anna Key with the Huntsville Hospital Wellness Center seems to concur with what medical researchers have been arguing for years.

“You can’t recreate a well-balanced meal in a pill form,” Key says, “so a lot of people add on additional supplements that maybe either they don’t need, or they just don’t contain what they what they state that they contain. A lot of these multivitamins are for breast health or heart health or ‘immune system support’ and there’s really nothing to support those claims.”

Seems pretty cut and dry. But we asked Key what in fact is safe – and what’s worth it.

“Maybe a calcium supplement if you’re a woman and have a history of Osteoporosis – but outside of that realm you really want to be clinically diagnosed from a blood test by your doctor: Do you need extra B-12, do you need extra vitamin D, and what form should you take that in?”

What’s the bottom line from the private nutrition counselor?

“Our bodies are always going to better receive nutrients from real whole foods rather than from a multivitamin or supplement form.”

So, what do people who make a living from selling vitamins and supplements think about the proverbial bombshell from the Annals of Internal Medicine?

Mother and son team Linda Lucas and Peter Hastings have been operating Creative Healing on Pratt Avenue in Huntsville’s Five Points neighborhood for 7 years. When it comes to the claims against many multivitamin supplements, Lucas admits – she gets it.

“There are no regulations in this supplement industry,” Lucas explains, “and so a lot of companies are just out to make money and they will add, if you turn the bottle around and read your other ingredients, you’ll see a whole paragraph of iccipients and filler and binders and sugars.”

So, when’s the last time you got any nutritional value from an iccipient? Exactly. But Lucas say there’s one big caveat: she only carries what she calls pure product lines from reputable companies in her shop. She takes the affront against supplemental nutrition personally, she says.

“To make a blanket statement that all supplements are bad, that’s not really true,” Lucas defends. “That really hurt my feelings because I would not sell anything in here to anybody if it was going to hurt them – I’m here to help people.”

Lucas goes so far as to challenge recent studies, defending her industry saying especially in America – with our fast food go-to favorites – supplements are needed.

“I feel like in America we don’t eat right anymore. So much of our soil has been depleted  and we’re not resting the land anymore, we’re spraying it with chemicals – and so the food we’re producing doesn’t have all the supplements and nutrients, vitamins and minerals that it used to have even 30 years ago.”

Peter Hastings says he feels the recent warnings stem from political agenda.

“I think their purpose is ultimately that of the pharmaceutical industry. The herb and natural industry is growing – that is a possible alternative – the pharmaceutical industry sees that and I think it’s like any business situation, they are trying to fight it.”

That’s a pretty bold argument, but after all, supplements and vitamins are the duo’s bread and butter – if you’ll excuse the pun. So what do they think changing perceptions could hurt their business in the long run?

“I don’t think we would survive or stay in business if it was all fake or if was all just a waste of money and time,” Hastings finished.

2 comments

  • Michael says:

    Precisely,

    This is politically, money driven agenda against the supplement industry. But what is funny to me, is that a lot of the supplements are being made by these same pharma companies that will benefit if people stop taking them. That’s interesting.

  • jamison-jones says:

    i use these vitamins and supplements and quite frankly they give me a boost. a shot of vitamin b-12 is just magical!, some multi-vitamins and other supplements make a lion in the gym and in bed..it just depends. you just don’t have to have a sedentary lifestyle ..at work i can for hours..i mean it all depends.

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