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The Nutrition InvestigatorThe health and nutrition blog by Dr. Roc Ordman.

The Multivitamin Debate

by Roc (click here for full post)

August 2018: A nutrition investigator reader asks ”should I take vitamin supplements?”

Hi Roc,  so many of your summaries talk about the importance of vitamins & minerals. Yet articles by physicians in the press usually say that they don’t recommend taking vitamins etc. Save your money, they recommend, & just eat good food.  Can you help me understand the different advice?


This is a very complicated question, and varies tremendously for each individual.  Remember you must talk to a medical professional about this information before doing. Anything.  But let me offer some quick responses:

  1. The head of Harvard University’s Public Health Program in “Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy” recommended that everyone take a daily multivitamin (MVM). A survey of people attending the Linus Pauling Conference, an expensive nutrition conference for experts, found 50% took a daily MVM. This is a link to a long debate pro- and con-.  As a general summary, if you eat a well-balanced diet with fruits, veggies, and meat you probably do not need a MVM.  If you eat meat, you probably should avoid iron, which Centrum removed from most forms when I told the makers how harmful iron supplements are for most people.
  2. For individual vitamins and minerals, the information I have read instructs us differently.
    1. The man who sets the daily value for vitamin D states we should get at least 2,000 IU daily. When he announced this, Centrum only provided 400. Vitamin D is critical for the innate immune system, reducing the risk for colds, cancer, and much else. One hour of full sun in a bathing suit at summer noon provides 1,000 IU.
    2. For vitamin C, the daily value is about 80mg, but to keep your serum saturated with this beneficial antioxidant, taking 500 mg twice a day is helpful.
    3. As I try not to eat too much meat, I take a vitamin B12 supplement once a week. That is especially important for older people’s cognitive abilities.
  3. For other things, not vitamins or minerals, there are supplements that may be ueful.
    1. I take an AREDs vitamin daily. It contains vitamins C and E, also lutein and xeaxanthin, which a major Johns Hopkins study shows slow macular degeneration, a concern as we pass 50.
    2. I take 200mg SAMe. It is a molecule you make naturally when young, but make less of as you age. It acts as a great anti-depressant, and has the side effect of preventing cirrhosis of the liver.
    3. I take fish oil daily. The jury is out on that. It is safe, and may be good for the brain, and is not harmful.

I presented a poster at a meeting last September, noting the many things I do almost daily to extend my healthspan.  It can be downloaded here, Sugartown, poster number 174.


In conclusion, while almost anything about nutrition is controversial, my plan is to choose things that are safe, but are likely to provide long term benefits based on known biochemical mechanisms.  For my conclusions by sex and age, look here.


I hope this helps.  -Roc



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