This is a question that I get asked frequently. Believe me, my job would be a lot easier if there was a multi I could strongly get behind. Even the high end, professional product lines that I use, do not have one that passes my inspection. Maybe I’m just too particular, but when it comes to health, yours, mine and our families, you can’t be too fussy.
Reason number one: Most of the multi-vitamin products on the market have at least one, if not a number of, inferior quality ingredients. There are numerous quality issues, and here are just a few examples: cheap calcium (which potentially compromises the absorption of all other ingredients); vitamin E that is a bi-product of Eastman Kodak’s film making process; B-Vitamins, which are usually Coal Tar by-products, and most of the time, are in amounts that I consider dangerous (based on research done in the first half of the 20th century).
Reason number two: many of these companies use a few ingredients that are the latest, or long past, “heavily marketed” ingredients. They do this to make the product “attractive”, however, they are at times unhealthy, or of no value in the amounts they are using.
Some examples are Beta Carotene (which, generally should be avoided for long term use); Sylmarin (to protect your liver); Ginko Bilboa (to save your memory); Lutein (to save your eyes from Macular degeneration) and Lycopene (to reduce your risk of cancer). Sylmarin is a fine ingredient, if it is used properly and specifically, in a formula that has numerous other focused ingredients for liver health. But, like Ginko, in multi’s, the amounts are usually too insignificant to have any therapeutic effect. However, they do have a “marketing effect”. They also, oftentimes, are using forms of these ingredients that are of poor quality. I just looked at a multi that had Lutein, Lycopene, CoQ10, Bromelain (from pineapple) and Papain (from Papaya). None of the amounts of any of these ingredients, were even coming close to therapeutic levels.
An additional downside, is that the uninformed think they are covering their needs of these ingredients, but of course, they are not even close. However, they are effective at selling the products.
Ginko, by the way, is indicated for poor memory that is related to compromised circulation, for which it can be helpful, when taken at therapeutic quality and levels. I, at times, use a high quality Ginko with patients, and then track them closely to make sure it is working, or we discontinue it’s use.
Reason number three: often these multi’s, because of the reasons above, are just not very effective and a waste of money. Early in my career, I tried some of the best multi-vitamin formulas on the market, but was never pleased with the results. This kind of ineffectiveness, was well demonstrated by a study done in Utah a few years ago, on the risk of Alzheimers and other age related cognitive (brain function) challenges. The researchers were looking to see if the anti-oxidants, vitamins E and C, decreased the risk of these issues in people who were already over 65 years of age. They analyzed the group (over 4,000 people), very thoroughly, and then re-analyzed them approximately 3 years later. They found that when the individuals took vitamin C and vitamin E, as individual products, there was a significant correlation with a lower incidence of Alzheimers onset and cognitive decline, as compared to the group who got their C and E in a multivitamin, or those who got no C or E at all.
On this note, if someone is looking for a good combination of products to diminish their risk of Alzheimers and cognitive decline, I, at this time, recommend Nano-Greens, Maxx Stress B, Omega EFA’s or EPA/DHA (depending upon the patient), Ultimate E and Bio-Potent C. The first three of these, are products that I recommend for almost all of my long term wellness programs anyway! And Nano- Greens is still the highest quality comprehensive anti- oxidant formula I have seen.
So, I hope I have answered the question, “why no multi- vitamin”, and at the same time, helped you to understand a little bit more about the complexities of the nutritional supplement world. Please let me know if you have any other questions on this subject.