4

votes

Downsides to Taking a Multivitamin

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 23, 2012 at 11:27 PM

I've been doing a cost benefit analysis of multivitamins, and so I ask:

What are the potential downsides of taking a multivitamin?

All I know of so far is the possible risk of supplementing folic acid, but that can be resolved with a multi that doesn't contain folic acid.

EDIT: In conclusion, the only proposed risk to eating a multivitamin (other than "its not paleo") is JJ's theory outlined below. I consider the potential benefits of a multi to outweigh this possible harm, and so, I will continue to take my Orange Triad every day.

EDIT 2: After further analysis, I have revised my position and no longer take a multivitamin. I now think that the marginal net benefit I perceived in the previous edit is outweighed by the monetary and temporal costs of taking the pills.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 27, 2012
at 02:42 AM

Anyone who takes pills and is goal orientated in their health will live longer. But hey, it's got a heaping big side of placebo effect on it's side. Taking things makes us think we are going to be healthier, so we generally end up healthier.

35ba1f50dad25c85ac1aa2599fe5c5cb

(2485)

on March 25, 2012
at 02:07 AM

The way I see it, if you leave the multivitamins out of it, you may find organ more appealing, it has nutrients you need. Then again if you have real psychological issues with offal, that might not be enough to overcome them. Breastfeeding though is a different story, you really want to make sure your bases are covered or your body will be depleted to provide for your baby.

Dc0b6400ec0a34615510f4e01cedab28

(385)

on March 25, 2012
at 01:40 AM

I completely agree! My one worry though is that not all of us are doing paleo 'right.' We're still pretty new at paleo and we don't eat bone marrow or organ meats (I know we need to start eating organ meats, but I'm a picky eater and I need to start with some good 'hiding' recipes) Anyway, I'm pregnant and taking folic acid and a multivitamin, but once I'm all done having babies and breastfeeding, I'm dropping vitamins and I'll just monitor my blood with the doctor. Then adjust my diet if I'm deficient.

Medium avatar

(115)

on February 08, 2012
at 03:32 PM

Very well written. People on paleo or semi-paleo should not take any supplments, not even folic when child-bearing. Don't trust me, I'm not a doctor, but rather trust million of years of evolution before any doctor!

Medium avatar

(115)

on February 08, 2012
at 03:26 PM

According to this article there might be flaws in the metastudy. http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=4895 The same still goes, it is as far from paleo one could possibly go to eat synthetic nutrition. We now little about how that impact us and how unpurities of those substitutes inpact us.

35ba1f50dad25c85ac1aa2599fe5c5cb

(2485)

on January 26, 2012
at 09:24 PM

Well, I am a statistician actually, but this kind of stuff is not the field I normally work in. This would be an extremely hard study to design, since we'd need to measure what "messages" the body is giving and receiving, and it's not clear what hormonal markers would be good measures for the myriad of nutritional needs the body has. Which is why I try to stick to food, rather than outthinking Mother Nature.

Da6d66a09864174f9db3e8c7328bdacd

(10)

on January 26, 2012
at 08:41 PM

Wow, I'm sure your theory is right and I thank you so much for this comment. I'm throwing out my and my kids' multivitamins right now. Seriously, it's too bad you're not a scientist to prove your theory and get it published!!! Actually the same thought crossed my mind in the past but I didn't think much on it. It's nice that someone else has the same thoughts. It has to be true. It sure does make sense to me.

0c875e97044bf838a074470caa5d630d

on January 25, 2012
at 02:32 AM

Kelly, the multivitamins I looked at (and I looked at many at the drug store) all had Vitamin A from vegetable AND animal sources. Can you share some of the brands that are beta carotene only?

Ceda025d1f349bc43be115a5f9199fb1

(501)

on January 25, 2012
at 01:47 AM

Agree with you that Vit D supplementation seems to have merit for many. Of course the 2005 Meta-analysis on Vit. E increasing all-cause mortality out of Hopkins is not mentioned in your LEF snippet. LEF exists to sell vitamins. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15537682

F558074f10788e35995792909931cd0f

on January 24, 2012
at 02:27 PM

There are plenty of vegetarians that agree with no/low carb and therefore are drawn to Paleo eating. It is possible to be successful with Paleo and be vegetarian at the same time. Not mutually exclusive...

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on January 24, 2012
at 10:20 AM

I don't care if supplementing makes me life one year shorter, it definitely makes quality of life better.

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on January 24, 2012
at 08:42 AM

You don't eat meat and you're browsing on paleohacks :D?

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on January 24, 2012
at 03:19 AM

http://www.wellnessresources.com/health/articles/increasing_vitamin_d_levels_likely_to_extend_lifespan/

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on January 24, 2012
at 03:18 AM

http://www.lef.org/newsletter/2011/0125_Study-Associates-Vitamin-E-Supplementation-with-Increased-Life-Span-Among-Specific-Groups.htm

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on January 24, 2012
at 03:17 AM

Do actual reading and research and don't trust your life to blurbs.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on January 24, 2012
at 03:17 AM

ements not only have proven health benefits, they are essential to the maintenance of good health and can help bridge the nutritional gap for many people in the UK whose diets are often lacking in essential nutrients."

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on January 24, 2012
at 03:16 AM

I call bs. If you are talking about the Copenhagen study, it was crap. However, Dr Ann Walker, of the Health Supplements Information Service, said the findings of the study were "worthless". She said some of the studies which had been examined by the Copenhagen team involved patients who were already seriously ill. "How sensible scientists can suggest that a modest intervention of a single antioxidant supplement, can have a major effect in reversing life-threatening pathology, where patients already have advanced cardiovascular disease, is ridiculous. "Vitamin, mineral and dietary suppl

931d78cfa5c1490abc0a0f2c4a82eede

(152)

on January 24, 2012
at 02:57 AM

How much vitamin a is considered toxic? I just bought a supplement with 8000iu from animal sources because i dont eat meat, but dont want to overdo it

F0e558010a2ecb31fa37b7c491596b8e

(3850)

on January 24, 2012
at 02:57 AM

Most (not all, so do your homework) multis have Vitamin A "as beta carotene" which your body uses to make Vitamin A as needed.

Ceda025d1f349bc43be115a5f9199fb1

(501)

on January 24, 2012
at 12:45 AM

And it may or may not apply to multivitamins... http://yourlife.usatoday.com/health/medical/womenshealth/story/2011-10-10/Study-Vitamins-may-boost-death-risk-in-older-women/50722104/1

Medium avatar

(39831)

on January 24, 2012
at 12:41 AM

Multivitamins are great, as long as they started out as a healthy animal's liver.

1c67bc28f4e44bbb8770b86df0463df3

(6719)

on January 24, 2012
at 12:06 AM

just don't forget to read it all the way to the end. And take the whole thing with some grains of salt and a shot of tequila for good measure. (The article, not vitamins)

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8 Answers

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2
35ba1f50dad25c85ac1aa2599fe5c5cb

(2485)

on January 24, 2012
at 08:24 PM

I have a theory that they screw up hunger signals. Now this is just my theory, but it is consistent with some of the work I've seen on micronutrient depletion and hunger.

My theory goes like this: 1. You eat a substandard diet & pop a multivitamin. 2. That multi has varying levels of vitamins and minerals that may or may not match what your body needs. And you absorb vitamins from that multi at varying rates depending on a whole host of factors. Some you may absorb a lot, others you may absorb very little. 3. Your body is now out of whack, it's getting signals that you have a ton of X nutrient but are low on Y nutrient, when in nature those two nutrients may be packaged together in food.
4. Your body starts sending messages that you need to eat more of food XYZ because it's confused about how you're low on Y nutrient and you end up overeating more of X nutrient. 5. Body's messages about what you should eat just keep getting more and more mixed up.

If you're eating a very good diet and taking a multivitamin this is probably less pronounced, but then most of that multi is going through your kidneys and down the toilet.

That being said, as the proverbial "woman of childbearing age" I take a low dose folic acid supplement a few days a week... although I skip it if I've eaten liver recently.

35ba1f50dad25c85ac1aa2599fe5c5cb

(2485)

on January 26, 2012
at 09:24 PM

Well, I am a statistician actually, but this kind of stuff is not the field I normally work in. This would be an extremely hard study to design, since we'd need to measure what "messages" the body is giving and receiving, and it's not clear what hormonal markers would be good measures for the myriad of nutritional needs the body has. Which is why I try to stick to food, rather than outthinking Mother Nature.

Da6d66a09864174f9db3e8c7328bdacd

(10)

on January 26, 2012
at 08:41 PM

Wow, I'm sure your theory is right and I thank you so much for this comment. I'm throwing out my and my kids' multivitamins right now. Seriously, it's too bad you're not a scientist to prove your theory and get it published!!! Actually the same thought crossed my mind in the past but I didn't think much on it. It's nice that someone else has the same thoughts. It has to be true. It sure does make sense to me.

Medium avatar

(115)

on February 08, 2012
at 03:32 PM

Very well written. People on paleo or semi-paleo should not take any supplments, not even folic when child-bearing. Don't trust me, I'm not a doctor, but rather trust million of years of evolution before any doctor!

35ba1f50dad25c85ac1aa2599fe5c5cb

(2485)

on March 25, 2012
at 02:07 AM

The way I see it, if you leave the multivitamins out of it, you may find organ more appealing, it has nutrients you need. Then again if you have real psychological issues with offal, that might not be enough to overcome them. Breastfeeding though is a different story, you really want to make sure your bases are covered or your body will be depleted to provide for your baby.

Dc0b6400ec0a34615510f4e01cedab28

(385)

on March 25, 2012
at 01:40 AM

I completely agree! My one worry though is that not all of us are doing paleo 'right.' We're still pretty new at paleo and we don't eat bone marrow or organ meats (I know we need to start eating organ meats, but I'm a picky eater and I need to start with some good 'hiding' recipes) Anyway, I'm pregnant and taking folic acid and a multivitamin, but once I'm all done having babies and breastfeeding, I'm dropping vitamins and I'll just monitor my blood with the doctor. Then adjust my diet if I'm deficient.

3
Cbda678b2a6bf0537d8c4ea0ce8aa9ad

(4319)

on January 24, 2012
at 06:14 AM

What worries me about a "multivitamin pill" is that, first of all, every brand has different ratios depending upon one theory or another.

Secondly, they will include different "vitamins", one pill from another.

And more importantly, thirdly, I believe many vitamins are synergistically linked. One can take a multivitamin and therefore cause a vitamin deficiency. Plus the fact that there are "vitamins" yet to be discovered and thus not included.

I personally target specific vitamins like D and E and eat to get the rest.

3
64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on January 24, 2012
at 12:00 AM

Paul Jaminet gave a nice look at multivitamins... http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=4895

(see section 5)

1c67bc28f4e44bbb8770b86df0463df3

(6719)

on January 24, 2012
at 12:06 AM

just don't forget to read it all the way to the end. And take the whole thing with some grains of salt and a shot of tequila for good measure. (The article, not vitamins)

1
F558074f10788e35995792909931cd0f

on January 24, 2012
at 02:28 PM

I like whole-food vitamins for this reason.

1
F15e0bae42dbf0b8cfc71e62902497b4

on January 24, 2012
at 10:56 AM

The biggest problem is that they're generally poorly absorbed so you end up peeing out a majority of what it says on the label. You're better off eating well (including organs and all colors of veggies) and supplementing specifically for the things you know you're deficient in.

Regarding folic acid, it's rather vital if you are a female of childbearing age (even if you don't plan on having kids for a few more years). In the US, flour is fortified with it, but I doubt anyone reading this is eating much flour. Lack of folic acid at, and in the months before, conception is associated with a variety of severe birth defects including spina bifida and heart defects. There have also been a couple of studies linking paternal folic acid deficiency to birth defects.

1
0c875e97044bf838a074470caa5d630d

on January 24, 2012
at 01:31 AM

You could get toxic levels of Vitamin A with a multivitamin if you get a lot of it in your diet naturally. My natural diet (even before Paleo) has close to the toxic dose of Vitamin A WITHOUT adding a multivitamin.

Plus, your body absorbs vitamins and minerals much better from actual food than supplements.

931d78cfa5c1490abc0a0f2c4a82eede

(152)

on January 24, 2012
at 02:57 AM

How much vitamin a is considered toxic? I just bought a supplement with 8000iu from animal sources because i dont eat meat, but dont want to overdo it

F0e558010a2ecb31fa37b7c491596b8e

(3850)

on January 24, 2012
at 02:57 AM

Most (not all, so do your homework) multis have Vitamin A "as beta carotene" which your body uses to make Vitamin A as needed.

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on January 24, 2012
at 08:42 AM

You don't eat meat and you're browsing on paleohacks :D?

F558074f10788e35995792909931cd0f

on January 24, 2012
at 02:27 PM

There are plenty of vegetarians that agree with no/low carb and therefore are drawn to Paleo eating. It is possible to be successful with Paleo and be vegetarian at the same time. Not mutually exclusive...

0c875e97044bf838a074470caa5d630d

on January 25, 2012
at 02:32 AM

Kelly, the multivitamins I looked at (and I looked at many at the drug store) all had Vitamin A from vegetable AND animal sources. Can you share some of the brands that are beta carotene only?

1
Medium avatar

on January 24, 2012
at 01:06 AM

It's a false statement above that you live longer. As far as I know there is only one big meta study of taking vitamins in general and that reached the conclusion that you die faster if anything. If you even consider taking it you haven't understood the paleo concept well enough.

Sorry for not having the link. Google it or maybe someone else has it.

Good luck!

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on January 24, 2012
at 03:17 AM

Do actual reading and research and don't trust your life to blurbs.

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on January 24, 2012
at 10:20 AM

I don't care if supplementing makes me life one year shorter, it definitely makes quality of life better.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on January 24, 2012
at 03:17 AM

ements not only have proven health benefits, they are essential to the maintenance of good health and can help bridge the nutritional gap for many people in the UK whose diets are often lacking in essential nutrients."

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on January 24, 2012
at 03:16 AM

I call bs. If you are talking about the Copenhagen study, it was crap. However, Dr Ann Walker, of the Health Supplements Information Service, said the findings of the study were "worthless". She said some of the studies which had been examined by the Copenhagen team involved patients who were already seriously ill. "How sensible scientists can suggest that a modest intervention of a single antioxidant supplement, can have a major effect in reversing life-threatening pathology, where patients already have advanced cardiovascular disease, is ridiculous. "Vitamin, mineral and dietary suppl

Medium avatar

(115)

on February 08, 2012
at 03:26 PM

According to this article there might be flaws in the metastudy. http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=4895 The same still goes, it is as far from paleo one could possibly go to eat synthetic nutrition. We now little about how that impact us and how unpurities of those substitutes inpact us.

0
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on January 24, 2012
at 12:25 AM

Living longer may be a downside, I guess, depending on your point of view. It's not one in my book. People who take supplements in general live longer than people who don't. Like all generalities, it may or may not apply to you...

Ceda025d1f349bc43be115a5f9199fb1

(501)

on January 24, 2012
at 12:45 AM

And it may or may not apply to multivitamins... http://yourlife.usatoday.com/health/medical/womenshealth/story/2011-10-10/Study-Vitamins-may-boost-death-risk-in-older-women/50722104/1

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on January 24, 2012
at 03:18 AM

http://www.lef.org/newsletter/2011/0125_Study-Associates-Vitamin-E-Supplementation-with-Increased-Life-Span-Among-Specific-Groups.htm

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on January 24, 2012
at 03:19 AM

http://www.wellnessresources.com/health/articles/increasing_vitamin_d_levels_likely_to_extend_lifespan/

Ceda025d1f349bc43be115a5f9199fb1

(501)

on January 25, 2012
at 01:47 AM

Agree with you that Vit D supplementation seems to have merit for many. Of course the 2005 Meta-analysis on Vit. E increasing all-cause mortality out of Hopkins is not mentioned in your LEF snippet. LEF exists to sell vitamins. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15537682

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 27, 2012
at 02:42 AM

Anyone who takes pills and is goal orientated in their health will live longer. But hey, it's got a heaping big side of placebo effect on it's side. Taking things makes us think we are going to be healthier, so we generally end up healthier.

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