Multivitamins sound like a perfect idea on the surface: “Why bother with a proper diet? This is the future! I can get all the vitamins I need in a convenient pill and go about my business.”
The reality, however, is not so carefree. In fact multivitamins under scientific scrutiny have been shown to be unhelpful and even detrimental to your health in some instances.
For some time, multivitamins were safe behind the common-sense logic of their ingredients. Why wouldn’t you want all these vitamins and minerals, they seemed to say. Well, there have been numerous studies now that show exactly why multivitamins just aren’t worth the money.
One of the most frequently mentioned benefits of multivitamins has been their alleged ability to stave off heart disease, other cardiovascular problems and cancer. The Physicians’ Health Study followed over 14,000 male doctors for 14 years and measured the effects of numerous factors on their long-term health, including the efficacy of multivitamins.
Their findings? After more than a decade of study, multivitamins had no beneficial effects on the prevention of cancer, heart disease, heart attacks, cardiovascular diseases and the like.
It’s the same for women. The Women’s Health Study out of Harvard Medical School found no benefits from multivitamins. In fact another study called the Iowa Women’s Health Study, which looked at 39,000 women for nearly 2 decades, found that those taking multivitamins actually had a 2.4% higher death rate than those not taking any vitamin supplement.
We like to reward ourselves for good behavior. It’s one of the little pleasures you get from say, going out to see a movie after finishing your taxes or cleaning your house then having a tall, frosty something-or-other. Unfortunately, the same logic doesn’t quite apply to fitness and health. And it definitely doesn’t apply to multivitamins.
It’s all too common to go for a workout, feel great, feel healthy, and then immediately go eat a huge, unhealthy meal, because “Hey, I just worked out, so I’m healthy. I deserve this.” It’s a 1 step forward, 2 steps back situation, and with multivitamins it’s more like 0 steps forward.
In psychology circles, it’s known as “licensing.” And studies have shown that when we take multivitamins, we give ourselves license to be even more unhealthy in other areas than normal because we think the multivitamins will make up the difference. This kind of behavior can lead to decreased Insulin Efficiency, weight gain, and many other problems.
Since multivitamins don’t really provide the health benefits we think, it’s just unhealthy eating. In this way, multivitamins can actually lead to an unhealthier lifestyle than otherwise.
Natural sources of nutrients are always the best kind. It may seem old hat to say so, but if you want to be healthy you need to eat healthy (and get plenty of exercise and rest).
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