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Should I stop taking multivitamins?

by (3742)
Updated October 29, 2014 at 3:22 AM
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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6229 · April 13, 2012 at 3:34 PM

Paul Jaminet has written well: Around the Web; The Case of the Killer Vitamins http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=4895 I wouldn't supplement with iron or calcium. Red meat, liver, and magnesium work much better!

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78422 · October 24, 2011 at 2:21 PM

Here is rebutal from orthomolecular news: http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v07n10.shtml

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25467 · October 14, 2011 at 10:22 PM

plus one........

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117
25467 · October 14, 2011 at 10:22 PM

plus one Maj....

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78422 · October 14, 2011 at 7:40 PM

This is not something they are guessing. There is huge amount of research related to safety of those compounds. You can show plausible mechanism for harm for everything. You can not erase decades of positive research not only on humans, but basically all animals, just because of occasional negative one, many to be highly suspicious in design.

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19220 · October 14, 2011 at 7:24 PM

Yep, both ways. Most cheap shop bought antioxidant pills probably have no real effect either way.

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78422 · October 14, 2011 at 7:04 PM

No, don't stop it. Use hi q supplements.

Medium avatar
19479 · October 14, 2011 at 6:55 PM

The "sick-user" effect was actually the first thing that came to mind when I heard this "report" about vitamins "causing" early death.

Medium avatar
19479 · October 14, 2011 at 6:54 PM

Well said Meredith!

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1160 · October 14, 2011 at 3:48 PM

Yep, it goes both ways, eh? Good point.

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19220 · October 14, 2011 at 3:38 PM

Those confounding factors a hard to unravel when people are choosing to take the supplements. Baseline users were probably also leading generally healthier lives.

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5531 · October 14, 2011 at 2:45 PM

Only others I can think of are K2 and Magnesium.

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16131 · October 14, 2011 at 2:15 PM

Here's a response from LEF to that article. Since they sell supplements they are also probably biased, but it's a pretty good read: http://www.lef.org/featured-articles/1014_Flawed-Study-Used-To-Discredit-Multivitamin-Mineral-Supplements.htm?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=socialmedia&utm_campaign=normal

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16131 · October 14, 2011 at 2:01 PM

I didn't see that part on iron. It is pretty risky IMHO. I would never take it unless I had a diagnosed deficiency, and even then I may reconsider.

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8933 · October 14, 2011 at 1:37 PM

The article said it was mostly the iron that caused death, but I don't think anyone here supplements iron (or they get constipated). I wonder if the supplements were the problem or rather the quality of the supplements. Most supplements in pharmacies have a nasty ingredients list (sorbitol, canola oil, soybean oil, ...)

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203 · October 14, 2011 at 1:16 AM

Agreed. Another aspect is the posssbility that some of the multi vitamin takers use that as a licence to engage in bad diet choices elsewhere.

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5477 · October 14, 2011 at 12:08 AM

+1 -Agreed on all counts!

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18635 · October 13, 2011 at 10:50 PM

The other Jay here...this is my though and my same routine. My supplementation is pretty random except for D right now.

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4359 · October 13, 2011 at 9:19 PM

The article you linked to claimed that the data gathered is not reliable and that there is no plausible reason why these supplements would do harm. The article is right on the first point but quite wrong on the second. Give me any bio-active compound and I will deliver studies showing a plausible mechanism for harm. To say that there is no such plausibility for something as common as vitamin E or copper is silly.

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4359 · October 13, 2011 at 8:49 PM

Yes, stop! Only vit D in my opinion. Maybe occasional use of other supplements but nothing regular...

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0dbd7154d909b97fe774d1655754f195
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16131 · October 13, 2011 at 8:55 PM

http://news.yahoo.com/vitamins-may-increase-womens-risk-dying-research-finds-212402256.html 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.

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5477 · October 14, 2011 at 12:08 AM

+1 -Agreed on all counts!

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16131 · October 14, 2011 at 2:15 PM

Here's a response from LEF to that article. Since they sell supplements they are also probably biased, but it's a pretty good read: http://www.lef.org/featured-articles/1014_Flawed-Study-Used-To-Discredit-Multivitamin-Mineral-Supplements.htm?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=socialmedia&utm_campaign=normal

0e9ddbd345ed53954d2c3eb4edc954c9
203 · October 14, 2011 at 1:16 AM

Agreed. Another aspect is the posssbility that some of the multi vitamin takers use that as a licence to engage in bad diet choices elsewhere.

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f
8933 · October 14, 2011 at 1:37 PM

The article said it was mostly the iron that caused death, but I don't think anyone here supplements iron (or they get constipated). I wonder if the supplements were the problem or rather the quality of the supplements. Most supplements in pharmacies have a nasty ingredients list (sorbitol, canola oil, soybean oil, ...)

Medium avatar
19479 · October 14, 2011 at 6:54 PM

Well said Meredith!

0dbd7154d909b97fe774d1655754f195
16131 · October 14, 2011 at 2:01 PM

I didn't see that part on iron. It is pretty risky IMHO. I would never take it unless I had a diagnosed deficiency, and even then I may reconsider.

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2861 · 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: http://paleohacks.com/questions/62893/best-multi-ideally-with-good-d3-magnesium-chelate-citrate-taurate-folate

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78422 · 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.

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25467 · October 14, 2011 at 10:22 PM

plus one........

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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.

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6418 · 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.

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11111 · 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.

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18635 · October 13, 2011 at 10:50 PM

The other Jay here...this is my though and my same routine. My supplementation is pretty random except for D right now.

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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."

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21779961

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.

D5cde8031564f905260ce9aa7a1f5e2c
1160 · October 14, 2011 at 3:48 PM

Yep, it goes both ways, eh? Good point.

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19220 · October 14, 2011 at 3:38 PM

Those confounding factors a hard to unravel when people are choosing to take the supplements. Baseline users were probably also leading generally healthier lives.

Medium avatar
19479 · October 14, 2011 at 6:55 PM

The "sick-user" effect was actually the first thing that came to mind when I heard this "report" about vitamins "causing" early death.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb
19220 · October 14, 2011 at 7:24 PM

Yep, both ways. Most cheap shop bought antioxidant pills probably have no real effect either way.

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11682 · 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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4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94
4359 · October 13, 2011 at 9:19 PM

The article you linked to claimed that the data gathered is not reliable and that there is no plausible reason why these supplements would do harm. The article is right on the first point but quite wrong on the second. Give me any bio-active compound and I will deliver studies showing a plausible mechanism for harm. To say that there is no such plausibility for something as common as vitamin E or copper is silly.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094
78422 · October 14, 2011 at 7:40 PM

This is not something they are guessing. There is huge amount of research related to safety of those compounds. You can show plausible mechanism for harm for everything. You can not erase decades of positive research not only on humans, but basically all animals, just because of occasional negative one, many to be highly suspicious in design.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117
25467 · October 14, 2011 at 10:22 PM

plus one Maj....

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