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Are Multivitamin Tablets Harmful? | Pros and Cons of Taking Multivitamins

Updated on October 2, 2013

You don't like the smell of your food, sick of eating fruit and vegetables, and the nutritious whole-wheat bread is not as good as a nice fat hoagie roll. Sugary juices place higher on your list than fresh fruit, bacon and hash browns for your morning meal. If your idea of the four basic food groups is pan-fried, with lots of butter, sweet and salty, then you should read this hub post.

You think you've got it all well in hand because of that nice looking capsule better known as multivitamin. You take it regularly without fail. It claims right on the package that it will give everything you need, why then worry about a well-balanced diet, right? Not so fast. Although multivitamins are important, they are not for everyone and it can lead to more health problems than benefits.

Multivitamins can be good for you, but could never take the place of the food pyramid.

Taking the right multivitamin tablets with a balanced diet

The "one-tablet-a-day" multivitamin was introduced to American consumers 60 years ago and until now has turn out to be a necessary routine for millions of adults and children every day. Most multivitamins contain 10 vitamins and 10 minerals to supplement your diet, which equals to the daily recommended amount, aside from calcium, which is quite big to pack into a capsule. Multivitamins promise to help boost immune system and prevent the risk of some chronic diseases like colon cancer and heart disease. They can, to some degree, but a number of current research show that many of these vitamins aren't all made for everyone.

Multivitamins are considered an alternative way to help supplement a diet for people who don't generally have time to buy fresh vegetables, fruits and whole grains. But the majority of health experts admit that a multivitamin is not a substitute for a good, healthy and balanced diet. In fact, choosing a healthy and balanced diet, you simply have no need for a multivitamin, and definitely could be getting the natural nutrients you need - especially considering many foods are rich in vitamins and minerals. Fortifying your diet with the essential vitamins is usually a better approach if you're an active and conscious eater.

The key is selecting the right multivitamins that meet your needs. There are supplements for children, adult men and women, women planning to have a baby, women currently pregnant or lactating and people over 50 years old. There are multivitamins essentially for vegetarians. Certain vitamins claim to boost energy or help weight loss, however be cautious - their effects are not clinically tested.

Consuming the right amount of food that will provide the recommended daily value (DV) of essential nutrients your body needs can be done, but its not easy. Monitoring your food intake is highly suggested. If you have a very hectic schedule, there will be some hassle doing so, in which case a multivitamin may be taken to provide your nutritional needs.

Good daily multivitamin for men

Men don't require too much Iron, the recommended iron intake for men is 8 milligrams per day. Most men get a sufficient amount of iron from the foods they eat. Red meat, egg yolks, turkey or chicken giblets all contain a lot of Iron.Other good sources of Iron are unpeeled potatoes, whole grains, and mollusks (oysters, clams, scallops). Most multivitamins for men contain a small amount of Iron. Additionally they contain Selenium, minerals, and Vitamin E to help prevent prostate problems.

Best multivitamin and mineral for women

Multivitamins for women need additional Iron due to the loss of mineral during monthly menstruation. Women's recommended daily allowance for Iron is 18 milligrams per day. If you've passed the menopausal stage then you'll need a bit more vitamin D in your multivitamin. Folic-acid is significant for women who have plans for having children. It prevents certain neural tube problems like Spina Bifida, thus doctors advise that every woman take an increased folic-acid during their child rearing years. Additionally there are pre-natal vitamin supplements formulated for women planning to get pregnant which contain right amount of folic-acid and added Vitamin A.

Most recommended multivitamin for kids

Different from what you might think, children don't have the need to take loads of vitamins and minerals. Many children's foods are already full of nutritional vitamins; therefore if your kid consumes a healthy and balanced diet then they may not need the support of multivitamins. Vitamin D is essential for bone development and it's not easy to get through daily diet, that's why children's multivitamins contain large amounts of Vitamin D. Multivitamins for children usually look and taste like candy, so do not let them take their vitamins and put it beyond their reach.

Best multivitamin for older people

If you're over 60 years old, you probably need to take a daily multivitamin. Sad to say, as we get older we lose the ability to absorb some important vitamins and nutrients. B complex vitamin such as B12 is just one of them, so multivitamins for older people contain more B12 vitamins. Vitamin K helps prevent hip problems, but it can also interfere with your blood-thinning medicines, so check with your doctor for a recommended multivitamin that match with your medications. A large amount Iron is not healthy for elderly people, so most multivitamins for seniors don't contain any Iron.

Vegetarian vitamin and mineral deficiencies

If you're a vegetarian or vegan, you'll need a full listings of vitamins and minerals. Iron, Zinc, Magnesium, Calcium, Selenium, Vitamin D, and B12 usually are hard to get if you're the person who eats Tofurkey with soy gravy every Thanksgiving. Choose a vegetarian formulated multivitamins to help restore these types of essential nutrients.

Are multivitamins good or bad for you?

Even though multivitamins are beneficial, not necessarily everyone needs them; many doctors believe that they can cause more harm than good. Research presented some shocking new findings for people who use multivitamins.

A few years ago, a number of medical tests have exposed some downside regarding multivitamins. Most multivitamin formulations today have an excessive amount of specific ingredients that may cause health problems. The second is the fact that some multivitamins don't contain the recommended daily allowance and some even contain extra ingredient.

The Harvard Men's Health Watch released a study in March 2009 specified that excessive amounts of folic-acid is associated with prostate and colorectal cancers. Folic-acid itself isn't harmful, but food manufacturers begun adding it to grain products in the mid-1990s, therefore if you're eating nutritious cereals, you are likely getting lots of it from your food. Your multivitamin intake in that case pushes you over the folic-acid line and a move closer to cancer.

One additional study conducted by pharmaceutical watchdog ConsumerLab, discovered that less than half of the multivitamins marketed in the United States and Canada contained additional ingredients. One of the multivitamins even included something extraordinary - lead. Multivitamins shouldn't be containing lead. The product was The Vitamin Shoppe's Especially for Women Multivitamin. The multivitamin contained 15.3 micro grams of lead per tablet. Similarly, lead can cause hypertension. Since the report became available in 2007, the product was taken off the market and class compensation was made with consumers.

Another multivitamin for kids, labeled as Hero Nationals Yummi Bears, contained 216% Vitamin A specified on the label. That's way above the recommended amount of Vitamin A that kids around the age of 8 should be getting daily. What does an excess Vitamin A can do to a growing child? It can damage their bones and most likely cause liver problems. Probably not very yummy after you give it some thought.

Thus do you have to be concerned and throw away all your multivitamins? Not necessarily. Your best choice is to check out ConsumerLab.com and do some researching on the vitamins it recommends. Consume a healthy, nutritious diet and you may only have to aid your food with vitamins specified to your requirements. Popular multivitamins which have been in the market for many years can be trusted and try to look for a seal of approval from the United States Pharmacopoeia, the NSF International. If your brand of multivitamin does not include any these seals, that suggests the manufacturer didn't put its product for voluntary testing. Multivitamins aren't strictly regulated like prescription and non-prescription drugs, so be careful taking multivitamins didn't pass testing.

Be an advocate, do some research and check with your doctor before you start taking a particular brand of multivitamins. In case you prefer a certain brand, study the formulation and compare your diet requirements to ensure you''re getting the right amount of specific vitamins or minerals.

Choosing the right Multivitamin Supplement

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    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 4 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Very thoughtful hub, to make people aware about use and overuse of multivitamins. I think, if one can get it from food, this is the best way to consume vitamins. A well planned balanced diet including all necessary vitamins is the right way to get all nutrition.

      Thanks for sharing this useful and informative hub!