Is is a good idea to take a Multi-Vitamin/Mineral supplement ?


There is hardly anything going on in our bodies, which does not require vitamins or minerals; even a minor deficiency of just one or another will cause our cells to start functioning inefficiently, causing a slow-down of the metabolism and weakening of the immune-system.

Consuming the foods available to us today, it wouldn’t be an easy task to provide all the right nutrients in the correct proportions to ensure continuous optimal functioning of all these multiple processes, even if we made our best effort to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.

Therefore it may seem a good idea to fortify our diet with a multi- vitamin/mineral product.

While I am still convinced that it is vital to supplement the diet with high- quality vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements, I now believe that most multi-vitamin/mineral supplements are NOT the optimal way to do so.

Fact is, that many multi-vitamin/mineral formulas are synthetic chemical cocktails, which do more harm than any good; the wide majority of commonly sold multi-vitamin/mineral supplements is inadequately composed; many include low-quality, cheap, hardly absorbable, and most often synthetic, even health-damaging versions of particular nutrients.

Another shortcoming of multi-vitamin/mineral supplements is that they supply all their nutrients to the body at the same time. While the consumer may view this as convenient, bunching up all of these nutrients into one single formula causes some of these substances to compete with each other for absorption, which may diminish the uptake of certain vital nutrients.

Low-quality multi-vitamin/mineral formulas can easily be identified by studying the label listing their ingredients. Identifying just some poor quality items on that label will already suffice to discern any inferior products to stay away from.

A good example for one such indicator is the kind of magnesium included in a multi-vitamin/mineral supplement. Many multi-vitamin products include magnesium in one of its poorest absorbed, cheapest forms as magnesium oxide, carbonate, sulfate or gluconate, which should all be avoided. Only a tiny amount of such cheap forms of magnesium is actually absorbed; it is not enough to effectively raise the blood levels of this extremely important mineral. Manufacturers, who utilize such unhealthful ingredients, prove that they value their company’s profits higher than their customers’ health. Examples of high quality forms of magnesium include magnesium glycinate, magnesium malate, magnesium taurate (cardiovascular benefits), magnesium threonate ( neurological benefits), but these are rarely found in multi-vitamin supplements.

Low-quality multi-vitamin supplements also often contain calcium in its cheap and poorly-absorbed calcium-carbonate form. Higher quality products commonly include calcium-citrate instead, which is more bioavailable and easier absorbed.

Inferior multi-vitamins may also contain synthetically-manufactured dl-alpha tocopherol as “vitamin E”, which is not only just half as potent as natural d- alpha tocopherol, but has the potential to bring about a wide spectrum of health issues. Beware of products with synthetic dl-alpha-tocopherol included as “vitamin E” . Vitamin products, which contain d-alpha-tocopherol are better, although d-alpha-tocopherol is merely one component of the natural vitamin E-complex, consisting of 4 tocopherols and 4 tocotrienols. Of the four tocopherols, it actually is the so-called gamma tocopherol, which is the most important member of the vitamin E family; it acts to trap and remove free radicals, such as reactive nitrogen, from the body in a way that d-alpha- tocopherol cannot. –

Iron should never be included in any multi-vitamin, as it is a quite risky substance. Ingesting supplemental iron, while not actually being deficient in this mineral, can easily lead to an excess building up in the body, as our body has no specific mechanism to rid itself of excess iron. Any excess is detrimental to health, as it generates free radicals by acting as a pro-oxidant, accelerating aging and promoting cancer, heart disease, bacterial growth, as well as other health issues. Obtaining iron from natural sources such as dark leafy greens, grains, beans, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds, as well as eggs and diary products, is not equally harmful, as the body is able to regulate its iron intake from foods. Only people, who are diagnosed to be iron-deficient, should take an iron supplement, but all by itself, as iron is best ingested on an empty stomach in the morning, not with meals, as multi-vitamins generally are.

Multi-Vitamins containing manganese and copper should likewise be avoided, as these minerals are found at more than adequate levels in any diet; getting too much of these two minerals causes oxidative stress and can cause toxicity, neurological problems and neurogenerative diseases.

Folic Acid is the synthetic version of vitamin B9 and is NOT found in food; just a slightly increased daily intake of 1000 mcg or more can increase the risk of cancer. While the names folic acid and folate are often used interchangeably, they are NOT the same. Try to find a product, which provides folinic acid or Folate as 5-methyltetrahydrofolate, the natural form of folic acid, required for DNA regulation and other fundamental metabolic processes. As opposed to synthetic folic acid, natural folate is non-toxic, as any excess is easily eliminated from the body.

Vitamin D should exclusively be included as vitamin D3 ( cholecalciferol), which is the same form of vitamin D that our body produces in response to sun exposure.Products with less bioactive, cheaper vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) should be avoided, as D2 can interfere with the beneficial actions of vitamin D3, which, as the body’s natural vitamin D, is better absorbed, utilized and 300% more effective.

As it may prove diffcult to find a multi-vitamin product with such high-quality ingredients, it may be best to fine-tune your vitamin/mineral intake, and separately take selected high-quality-nutrients at the appropriate times and in the right amounts and combinations for best absorption and maximum effectiveness.

Dr. Christoph Klueppel
Master of Fitness Sciences
Specialist in Performance Nutrition
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