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  • Writer's pictureDr. S. Rallis DC, ND

If your multivitamin has this ingredient, it may be damaging your health...

“What multivitamin are you taking?” I asked.  “It’s the…over 50…for women,” the patient began and then told me the brand name.  “I would suggest you stop taking that supplement…” I offered. “Why?” the patient asked. “It contains Vitamin A and beta carotene which increases the risk of certain cancers in smokers.”  “What?!” the patient gasped, “really?” “Yup, we’ve known this for a long time.  Yet, sadly, most supplement companies continue to add vitamin A and beta carotene to their formulations.” “Wow, I never knew…” her voice trailed off. “That’s not all,” I continued, “beyond vitamin A and beta carotene, most of the vitamins, minerals and co-factors present in the brand you are taking are either at non-therapeutic doses or as inferior grade forms.” “What does that mean exactly?” she asked. “It means that they’re present in forms that aren’t really bioavailable or they’re at doses that have minimal impact (if at all). In other words, they’re sh*t.” “Do you ever recommend multivitamins?” “I do, and there are many wonderful brands.  We just need to find one that fits your needs.” Interpreting the back of a multivitamin can be tricky, so here are three simple red flags to look for.  When present, these usually indicate an inferior product. 

1. Presence of Vitamin A or beta carotene. Put it down. There are lots of reasons to take both, but let your ND or medical provider help you decide.

2. B12 and folic acid.  B12 should be present as methylcobalamin.  If it says, cyanocobalamin, put it down. Similarly, folic acid should be present as L-methylfolate or L-5-methyltetrahydrofolate.  If it just says, folate, put it down.  Therapeutic dose for both is 1,000 mcg or 1 mg per day.

3. Minerals such as calcium or magnesium or zinc should be bound to a bioavailable form such as citrate or a chelate.  Avoid supplements that just list the ingredient i.e., “calcium” and especially if you see nutrients bound to “oxides”.

If you are fortunate enough to be under the primary care of a #naturopathic or #integrative medical provider, get their opinion first.  As much as that attendant at the big box store cares about your health…

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