LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Centrum, One-A-Day, Vita Fusion, Nature Made, men's, women's, pills, gummy: multivitamins are part of an industry that rakes in tens of billions of dollars a year. But, is it wasted money?
A trio of studies published in the Annals of Internal Medicine says "yes," claiming that multivitamins have "no substantial health benefit" when it comes to preventing heart disease or cancer -- or improving cognitive function in men over 65.
But U of L nutritionist Diana Pantalos is joining a chorus in the medical industry firing back at the studies.
Pantalos says they tested multivitamins for things they were never meant to do in the first place. And, she says, to suggest that people should stop taking them is flat-out wrong.
"If you're not eating fruits and vegetables all day, you need a multivitamin. Many people don't choose healthy foods, don't eat many fruits and vegetables and other foods that have essential nutrients. Also, many people are choosing to eliminate certain foods from their diet, like glutens or dairy, and then they may run a risk of not having a nutrient that they need," Pantalos said.
While Pantalos says those eating a healthy diet probably don't need to take a multivitamin, that's not the case for most people. She says they contain substances that people need to do things like prevent illness, strengthen bones and maintain eyesight. And, Pantalos says, at around 10 cents a day, they're an inexpensive way to make sure you're getting what you may not be getting from your diet.
"I've never seen anyone harmed by taking a multivitamin, but I have seen people whose medical problems could have been prevented by taking a multiple vitamin. And, they've been very severe."
So, if some vitamins are good, more must be better, right?
Absolutely wrong, and that's where you can get into trouble. For instance, while vitamin D is good for your bones and your immune system, too much can be toxic -- and even deadly.
"If you took a single vitamin of just vitamin A or vitamin E, that could be harmful. Any of the vitamins that are fat soluble, which those are stored in the liver and that's where those can build up and cause problems," Pantalos said.
When if there's any reason at all to go above the recommended daily allowance of vitamins, she simply responded, "No." She does point out that there are certain cases where extra doses of certain vitamins are needed. For instance, pregnant women should take extra folic acid.
However, when it comes to heavy doses of vitamin C preventing a cold, or helping you to get over one more quickly, she says the jury is still out.
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