While it is true that there is no one study that proves taking just any off the shelf multivitamin can lengthen your life, there certainly is a lot of data out there to support the use of certain vitamins in certain people to help them with health issues. Likewise, there is a lot of data out there to show that the wrong person taking the wrong type or amount of vitamin can also be very bad for that person’s health. If you break down the issues related to too much or too little of individual vitamins, you will find lots of interesting facts. One thing we have learned, however, is that taking the right vitamins in the right amounts is key. It is important to establish a custom vitamin regimen based on your individual needs. So, why is finding the right combination of vitamins for the right person so very important?
1. People who are deficient in Vitamin D do not live as long. A recent study in the BMJ concluded that people with lower levels of this important fat soluble vitamin had a greater risk of death from cancer, heart disease and other causes. Those who supplemented with the correct type and amount of Vitamin D lived longer.
2. People who do not get enough calcium are at risk for having lower bone density. Lower bone density (osteoporosis) puts people at risk for hip fractures among others. Women who fracture their hips are twice as likely to die in the next year as other women their age. Therefore, supplementing with the right amount of calcium (in the proper combination with dietary calcium) is essential to building strong bones and reducing lifetime risk of fractures and accelerated mortality.
3. On the flip side of the calcium issue, there is the concern about taking too much calcium in the form of a supplement. Several studies show that women who took large doses of calcium supplements had higher rates of cardiovascular death. The theory in these studies is that taking large doses of calcium causes high levels of circulating calcium that may build up in your arteries and contribute to heart disease. This remains a controversial idea (and there are some new studies which do not agree with this conclusion), but the bottom line is that some calcium is good, but too much is not a great thing (it can also cause kidney stones and constipation among other things).
4. People who are iodine deficient have a higher risk of becoming hypothyroid. Hypothyroidism in its most extreme state can cause coma and death. In fact, worldwide iodine deficiency is the most common cause of this endocrine abnormality. Iodine deficiency is on the rise in the U.S. as we eat less processed foods that are fortified with iodine. Taking the right amount of supplemental iodine (especially important in pregnancy) is essential. However, too much can also cause great harm (sensing a theme here?).
5. Vitamin A deficiency is a significant cause of infant death worldwide. Developing countries have literally hundreds of thousands of children each year who lose their sight and often their lives from this common deficiency. Ironically, very few people in the developed world (especially in the U.S.) suffer from this deficiency.
6. In the U.S., we probably take too much Vitamin A which could actually hurt us. In fact, one large study of smokers showed that taking high doses of Vitamin A may increase risk of developing lung cancer. Therefore, taking too much Vitamin A could be harmful.
7. Taking too much Vitamin A also can lead to osteoporosis. This condition, as mentioned in #2 above, can lead to hip fractures and ultimately an earlier death. As shown, Vitamin A certainly seems one of those cases where “more is not necessarily better.”
8. Taking dietary supplements touted as “natural herbs” for various conditions has led to cases of severe liver damage. This most often happens when the products contain unlisted ingredients such as steroids. The oversight in manufacturing of these products is lacking and therefore purity standards may be lax. Taking vitamins that are only made under the highest quality standards is essential.
9. If you are taking a vitamin that falls short on certain essential electrolytes, you could be missing out on important, life prolonging benefits. For example, magnesium appears to have some role in preventing cardiac death and stroke. Many of us are deficient in magnesium and it is not present in most common multivitamins.
10. Iron, so essential to all our cellular functions (it carries oxygen to them!), is crucial to life. Many people, women especially, fall short on iron. They are depleted from getting their period (monthly losses) and from pregnancies which sap large amounts of iron from bodily stores. Iron deficiency leads to severe fatigue, cardiac issues and other problems. As is the case with just about all other vitamins, iron overload also can be very toxic and life threatening.
There are so many reasons that taking the right vitamins is important. Too much or too little can be harmful. We are all individuals and we have different needs based on diet, lifestyle and health histories. A custom all in one vitamin helps provide each individual with the right combination of nutrients to meet their needs. You can take our vitamin quiz here to get a custom all in one vitamin to meet your inidividual needs from Vous Vitamin®.
Romy Block specializes in Endocrinology and Metabolism and is mother to three active adolescent boys. Arielle Levitan is a Doctor of Internal Medicine with a special interest in Preventive Medicine and Women’s Health. She is a mother of three teen agers. As professional women with active family lives, they recognize that people often neglect their own health needs and are uncertain about what vitamins to take. Each person is different in her diet, exercise and health history, and will benefit from different nutrients. After years of advising their patients about the proper vitamins to take, Drs. Block and Levitan created Vous Vitamin® to provide people everywhere with quality vitamins that are suited to their individual needs. They are authors of the award winning The Vitamin Solution: Two Doctors Clear Confusion About Vitamins and Your Health (She Writes Press, 2015). Take your vitamin survey now to get exactly the right vitamins for your needs.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Nothing contained herein is intended to be a diagnosis or constitute medical advice. The symptoms described in this Blog may be a result of a serious medical condition which requires medical treatment. You should consult with your doctor if you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned in this Blog and before beginning any vitamin or supplement regimen.