Should I stop taking multivitamins?

by (3737) Updated October 26, 2011 at 2:43 PM Created October 13, 2011 at 8:27 PM

With the news this week about multivitamins increasing risk of death, it's probably worth asking the question now about whether people on Paleo diets should stop taking multivitamins. Given that our diets are rich in fruits and vegetables, we're probably getting more vitamins than the typical person would on the SAD. Is it enough and if so, with the multivitamin might we be exceeding maximum safe levels in some places? If we stop taking multivitamins, then should we replace them with other targeted supplements? Soil quality is just not what it used to be 10k years ago nor did our ancestors live in these northern climates. I'm thinking at least Vitamin D (I'm in MA) and occasional iodine through salt. Fish oil still makes sense since eating a large quantity of fish will expose you to a lot of pollution that didn't used to exist. Are there others?

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15964 · October 13, 2011 at 8:55 PM Is this the article you are referring to?

I take a multi and other targeted supplements that I am just not going to get through diet or environment. Like you I am in an area in which I will not get much D - WA state. I take high quality vitamins though. I would not take any made in China or sold for pennies at WalMart for instance. One thing I for sure would not supplement is iron. That can be problematic.

I question the source of this study. I think it said that there was a 1% increase in death among the women who took vitamins. Also by the end of the study these ladies would have been over 80 years old. Since no compounds were isolated, who is to say that vitamins killed these women. Since we know 100% of us who live to be old enough will die of old age, who is to say that they did not die of that? Not to mention I saw no breakdown of diet, exercise or smoking status.

I am leery about this article for another reason. There is a push to take over the counter supplements off the market so that they can be regulated. Would this have anything to do with big Pharma? I don't know, but I think it sucks.

2791 · October 14, 2011 at 1:04 PM

If your multi has Folic Acid in it, then I would stop taking it. Folic Acid is not a natural form of Folate, and I believe it has been correlated to negative outcomes.

Here is a link to a discussion about the “best” multivitamin; the top answer has a link to one of the best multivitamins I have seen:

77348 · October 14, 2011 at 7:10 PM

I don't think that "take at least vitamin D" attitude is completely valid. You need resources to work. You can not work correctly on "at least vitamin D", you might even harm yourself.

So, take hi quality supplements and don't worry about those few negative studies which are probably flawed. For each negative paper I can pair you hundred positive ones and hundred neutral ones. With high q supplements and proper dose the worst thing that can happen to you is if nothing happens. Most high grade supplements are exceptionally safe even in very large doses.

910 · October 14, 2011 at 4:19 AM

Iron was the main one that was associated with increased death. Why were post-menopausal women taking a supplement with iron? Were they anemic? Had their doctor told them to take a multi with iron? If not, and they were taking iron, could iron overload have been a problem. Either way, iron overload or anemia could have accounted for the increase in deaths??? Just a thought.

6332 · October 13, 2011 at 10:37 PM

There are articles coming out every day. Best to not take them all too urgently, in my opinion, without knowing of some of the research and who is doing the research.

11049 · October 13, 2011 at 10:18 PM

That article smacks of Big Pharma and politics. I do supplement but its random not on a daily basis, but we do take VitD daily.

1160 · October 14, 2011 at 3:26 PM

Here's a recent study that found that baseline users of supplements had better health outcomes than non-users. It also found that baseline non-users who began supplementing after being diagnosed with something had worse outcomes, suggesting a "sick-user effect."

After an average follow-up time of 11 years, 1,101 deaths were documented (cancer deaths = 513 and cardiovascular deaths = 264). After adjustment for potential confounders, neither any vitamin/mineral supplementation nor multivitamin supplementation at baseline was statistically significantly associated with cancer, cardiovascular, or all-cause mortality. However, baseline users of antioxidant vitamin supplements had a significantly reduced risk of cancer mortality (HR: 0.52; 95% CI: 0.28, 0.97) and all-cause mortality (HR: 0.58; 95% CI: 0.38, 0.88). In comparison with never users, baseline non-users who started taking vitamin/mineral supplements during follow-up had significantly increased risks of cancer mortality (HR: 1.74; 95% CI: 1.09, 2.77) and all-cause mortality (HR: 1.58; 95% CI: 1.17, 2.14).

I wouldn't worry.

11648 · October 13, 2011 at 8:35 PM

I personally needed magnesium to counter-effect cramps and muscle pain in my legs a few weeks into Paleo. K2 is important too, in order to maximize calcium absorption.

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