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Does a multivitamin a day really keep the doctor away? Before you buy those supplements, read Dr. Art Hister's advice on how to skip the pills without compromising your health
Good nutrition and exercise can help reduce your supplement intake
Millions of people take multivitamins every day to ward off health ills. It’s a strategy I’ve never favoured because I’ve never been convinced that the average person needs a daily multivitamin (except for people with specific digestive disturbances, the elderly, many of whom have poor diets on top of poor absorption abilities, and those with specific chronic health conditions).
The reason I don’t believe most of us need a daily multivitamin is simple: It’s easy to get enough vitamins even from a typical unhealthy Canadian diet, so taking a multivitamin every day does nothing for the majority except assure that we pee out more expensive urine.
Coincidentally, two recent reports examined this health issue (in men who were part of the Physicians’ Health Study, but the results probably apply to women, too). The first report found that daily intake of multivitamins led to an eight per cent reduced risk of some cancers; the second report found no benefit whatsoever on the risk of suffering cardiovascular events (i.e., heart attacks and strokes).
Some might argue, “Hey Art, there’s really nothing to lose from taking a daily multivitamin ’cause even if it does nothing for my heart, it at least reduces the risk of cancer.” An argument I’d counter with these three key considerations:
Dude, you should still eat that casserole, not only because getting your vitamins from food is way better for you than getting them from pills, but it will also help keep your marriage intact.
Dr. Art Hister is a medical writer and health analyst for Global TV.
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