If you pay attention to health news, you are probably as confused about multivitamins as some of my patients are. I had a patient the other day asking why I had recommended a multivitamin to him when research now shows multivitamins cause prostate cancer.
He’d heard a report on a study that suggested men who take multivitamins have a higher rate of prostate cancer. This is so far from the truth that it scares me about what people are reading.
If you investigate the details of a study like this you find that it focused on men who took dosages of vitamins and minerals that are way off the charts. Plus along with the multivitamin these subjects were taking additional supplements in even higher doses.
It’s not unusual to get inundated with misinformation about your health everyday, so of course I understood how this patient had reached these conclusions. And he was appreciative when I gave the real straight story on multivitamins.
To help you better understand this continuous confusion here’s my views:
First off, today’s food supply isn’t what it once was. Farmers and ranchers use more chemicals and drugs on the food they raise. Often these chemical treatments lower the overall nutrition content of the foods they raise. Farming practices have also taken a toll on the soil, so our food supply is often tragically short on the minerals we need for good health.
Because of these factors, I absolutely, without a doubt, recommend to all my patients that they take a good, high quality multivitamin.
Which Multivitamin is Best for You?
Of course, that recommendation raises the next question… what should your multivitamin contain in order to give your body the most benefit?
Well, to start with you don’t want a multivitamin that contains only vitamins. At the very least, the multivitamin you choose should contain a variety of minerals, too. I also prefer multivitamins that contain antioxidants and amino acids.
Next, look for a multivitamin that is formulated for easy digestion. A soft gel or a powder is best. Hard capsules often pass right through your system without ever delivering the nutrients they promise. A soft gel or a powder ensures that the nutrients make it from your digestive tract into your blood stream where your body can actually use them.
Finally, there are a few standout nutrients that I think you should look for in addition to the usually suspects like vitamins, C, E, A and a B-complex.
Recent research on the protective effects of vitamin D is impossible to ignore. A large scale study with more than 1000 participants found that people who got at least 1100 units of vitamin D each day reduced their cancer risks by 77%.
When choosing a multivitamin look for one with 400 IU of vitamin D in the form of cholecaciferol. This is the natural, active form of vitamin D—your body can make the best use of it over other varieties. I recommend 400 IU because that will allow you to benefit from additional vitamin D from food sources and from the sun.
Next, I strongly suggest you look for a multivitamin that contains at least 30mg of coenzyme Q10. Think of CoQ10 as the oil that keeps your whole body running smoothly. It promotes healthy cells, a strong heart, a sharp mind, and a good mood. For examples, early studies of CoQ10 show that it can protect the brain from free radical damage that can lead to dementia. It may help protect against other neurodegenerative diseases as well.
Finally, I prefer a multivitamin that contains n-acetyl-cysteine (NAC). This amino acid helps your body to make glutathione, the powerful antioxidant your liver uses to clean up toxins. More glutathione means a better immune system and a healthier body, and NAC is the best way to boost your glutathione levels.
So there you have it. Multivitamins, when taken properly, are good for you. Choose one that contains a variety of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients including vitamin D, CoQ10, and NAC. And choose a formula that will be easy for your body to digest… otherwise you’ll might as well just flush your vitamins—and your money—right down the toilet.
Mark Rosenberg, MD
Photo Credit: technofied.net