Multivitamins in the NewsApril 16, 2009 Written by JP [Font too small?]
The risk of bone fractures is a very serious danger that faces everyone who reaches their senior years. As we age, bone density typically declines, sometimes dramatically. It’s also generally true that the ability to heal from injuries slows down with advancing age. So it’s important to do what is possible to strengthen one’s skeletal system and sense of balance in order to prevent such bone damage. Taking a daily multivitamin is one of the simplest and least appreciated tools for avoiding bone fractures and the falls that can lead to them.
Multi-Vitamin Ratings and Cost-Per-Day Chart
|1 per day||Fair||14C||Medium potency.
Low in Calcium and magnesium.
|2 per day||Good||27C||Medium to high potency.
More vitamin A, B, C, D and E.
Low in calcium and magnesium.
|3-4 per day||Better||50C||High potency.
More vitamin B, C and E.
Some calcium and magnesium.
Highest levels of A, B, C, D and E.
Plenty of calcium and magnesium.
May include added antioxidants.
A study that appears in the April 2009 issue of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition reminds us of the importance of the daily use of multivitamins. A total of 92 senior volunteers participated in this experiment – 49 received a daily multivitamin and 43 were given a placebo that was identical in appearance. The study lasted 6 months and measured several aspects of health, including nutrient status, bone density and balance. Here are some of findings of this scientific trial:
- Higher levels of Vitamin B12, folic acid and Vitamin D were reported in the multivitamin users.
- 77% of the multivitamin group had adequate levels of vitamin D in their systems. Only 10% of the non-supplementers were found to have satisfactory levels of vitamin D.
- There was an increase in bone density (as measured by “quantitative heel ultrasound” in the multivitamin users.
- Those taking the multivitamins also reported 63% fewer falls during the 6 month evaluation.
The positive changes led the authors of the study to conclude that, “this could contribute to a reduction in fractures“. The most encouraging aspect of this experiment was the speed at which the supplementation brought about an improvement in health. Imagine the amount of suffering that could be spared, not to mention the financial savings involved.
There’s another study from March of 2009 that illustrates another important point. In that research, a group of children recovering from skin burns were also given a daily multivitamin for a period of 6 months. The intent of the experiment was to see if the supplement could restore adequate levels of Vitamin D in these young patients. Damaged skin often cannot produce sufficient levels of Vitamin D, which can lead to deficiencies of this vital nutrient.
The researchers conducting this trial used a different form of Vitamin D than in the senior study. This experiment used Vitamin D2 or ergocalciferol, rather than the Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) used in the first experiment. This seemingly subtle difference can have major consequences within the body.
In the study with the young burn victims, the multivitamin did not correct the pre-existing Vitamin D deficiency. It’s not entirely clear whether the form of Vitamin D was at fault here. It could simply be that the dosage used (400 IUs) was not adequate. Still, this is a reminder that not all supplements are created equal. Most experts involved in Vitamin D research suggest opting for the D3 form, which is the variety produced by skin when it’s exposed to sunlight.
I’m frequently asked to recommend the “best” multivitamin on the market. Because the specific needs of an individual must be taken into account, making such a generalized recommendation is impossible to do. For instance, an ideal multi for a senior woman would not likely be appropriate for an adolescent boy. Viewing everyone “the same” can only lead to very crude and, possibly, even damaging results. Having said that, there are some general recommendations about multivitamins that I think could be helpful for almost everyone:
- Take your multivitamin with food. This will assist with the absorption of the fat soluble nutrients and reduce the likelihood of digestive upset.
- Look for a multivitamin that requires more than one pill per day. Spreading out the dosage will allow for better distribution of vitamins and minerals throughout the day and night.
- Consider using reputable brands commonly found in health food stores. Manufacturers that sell their products mainly in health food stores (retail or online) generally provide more “natural” forms of vitamins. This can make a difference in how the body processes these nutrients. Vitamin D is but one example.
- Avoid taking a multivitamin with extra iron if you’re not anemic, still growing or menstruating. Excess iron has been implicated in a variety of health concerns, such cancer and heart disease.
- It’s generally advisable to avoid combining medications and supplements at the same time. For instance, certain antibiotics may be impaired by the co-administration of minerals such as calcium and magnesium. Please check with your doctor or pharmacist for more information about any known drug/nutrient interactions.*
* One common supplemental interaction to avoid is taking a multivitamin at the same time as a fiber supplement. Taking these two together may negatively impact the absorption of the nutrients contained in the multi.
I hope this information will serve as a reminder of the importance of taking a quality, daily multivitamin supplement. The information we get on the news often gives us pause concerning the relevance of doing so. But buried deep in the scientific data are studies that continue to support the benefits of such a simple and cost effective way to promote long term health.
Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!
Tags: Osteoporosis, Vitamins
Posted in Bone and Joint Health, Nutrition, Nutritional Supplements