Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Are Multivitamins Dead?

This is an excerpt from an e-mail.

In a previous "Tips From The Professor" I was critiquing the November 2010 article in Prevention Magazine titled "Should You Kick the Multivitamin Habit?"

I made the following points:

1) It is very difficult to prove that any intervention is beneficial in an essentially healthy population.

As an example I discussed the recent study showing that you cannot even demonstrate a benefit from statin drugs in a healthy population with elevated cholesterol.

2) If you wish to demonstrate the effectiveness of an intervention, you need to focus on those individuals who are actually at risk.

And I gave examples of studies that show supplementation does make a difference in populations who are at risk.

This week I would like to continue my discussion by making several more observations:

3) Not all multivitamins are the same.

Shaklee is unique in the food supplement industry in that they design their supplements based on solid science, employ pharmaceutical grade quality control standards and conduct clinical studies to prove the effectiveness of their supplements.

For example, Shaklee designed their multivitamin Vita- Lea and their calcium supplements based on the research of Dr. Paul Saltman, who studied the micronutrient composition needed to optimize the utilization of calcium for bone formation. And an independent clinical study showed that the calcium in Vita-Lea was twice as effective as a calcium carbonate supplement at decreasing bone loss in postmenopausal women (JAMA, 244: 1915, 1980).

Similarly, an independent clinical study showed that Shaklee's Vita-Lea improved immune response in older healthy adults (J Am Coll Nutr, 17: 511, 1998).

My perspective is that when interpreting studies of multivitamin usage in the general population it is important to remember that most of those multivitamins have never been tested to see if they actually work!

4) Multivitamins are good, but you can do better.

This is one area where I agree with the basic premise of the Prevention article.

Multivitamins are the most economical form of supplementation, but based on what we know today they are clearly not the optimal form of supplementation.

Perhaps the clearest evidence of that is the Landmark study conducted by Dr. Gladys Block of UC Berkeley (Nutrition J, 6: 1-11, 2007).

She compared people who had followed a comprehensive program of supplementation using the Shaklee supplements for 20 years or more with people who just used multivitamins or used no supplementation.

The people who used the Shaklee supplements had significantly better health than the multivitamin users and the non-supplement users.

In fact the multivitamin users fared no better than the non-supplement users - which is to be expected because the study was conducted in a healthy population.

Shaklee followed up by combining the key nutrients that the Shaklee subjects were using in the Landmark study into a supplement called Vitalizer, which represents the latest in nutritional science.

Let me give you some examples:

Prevention made the point that one major problem with multivitamins is that they often contain nutrients "in isolation". For example, they quote Dr. Neuhouser as saying "The vitamin C in a multivitamin is likely just not as effective as the vitamin C in a citrus fruit, where it is surrounded by fiber and flavonoids and carotenoids."

I agree with this assessment - although the interaction of vitamin C with flavonoids and carotenoids is much stronger than its interaction with fiber.

In Vitalizer the vitamin C is surrounded by flavonoids and carotenoids - and if you add Cinch you'll get fiber as well.

Prevention recommended omega-3 fatty acids. Vitalizer contains the 500 mg of omega-3 fatty acids that the NIH recommends for healthy adults. If you have health challenges you can get more omega-3 fatty acids from Shaklee's OmegaGuard.

Prevention recommended 1,000-1,200 mg of calcium from food and supplements. The Vita-Lea in Vitalizer contains 450 mg of calcium. When you add that to the 500-600 mg of calcium that most Americans get from their diet you are right on target.

I personally think that the Prevention recommendation is a bit low for post-menopausal women and men over 50, but Shaklee has calcium supplements that you can use to increase calcium intake to the 1,500-2,000 mg that some experts recommend.

Prevention recommended 800-1,000 IU of vitamin D. I personally think that is a bit low, but Vitalizer alone provides 1,000-1,200 IU of vitamin D3 (depending on which Vitalizer you use) and you can increase your vitamin D intake further with Shaklee's Vita-D3.

Probiotics (friendly bacteria) are increasing recognized as important for health, and Vitalizer also contains probiotics.

These are just a few of many examples of how Vitalizer represents a comprehensive, holistic approach to supplementation.

This is why I recommend Vitalizer as the foundation for anyone wanting to start a nutrition program to improve their health.

5) The risks of multivitamin use have been over-hyped.

There are only a few studies that suggest risk from multivitamin use and in every case they are overshadowed by many other studies showing no risks.

I have pointed out in my previous "Tips From the Professor" that it is normal for individual scientific studies to report negative results.

A good scientist keeps an open mind but is guided by the overwhelming preponderance of published studies.

On the other hand, journalists and those with an anti-supplement bias tend to hype every negative study.
To Your Health!
Dr. Stephen G Chaney

The Vitalizer product is the result of over 50 years of research and 12 clinical studies. The SMART delivery system means that you have easily available to you specially designed Omega capsules designed to be released at the proper stage of the digestive system, Multi-vitamin and Mulit-minerals, and probiotics designed to be protected for release at the proper stage of digestion.
Supercharged vitality, Immune health, Stress management, Antioxidant defense, DNA protection, Heart and brain health, Bone and joint health, Digestive health, Healthy hair, skin and nails. Fifty years in the making, based on 12 Shaklee clinical studies, with 80 bio-optimized clinically proven nutrients, Vitalizer provides the best spectrum of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, anti-aging phytonutrients, omega-3 fatty acids, and probiotics.
Vitalizer with Iron
Vitalizer Gold (for seniors)
Vitalizer is also available in a variety of wellness packs that include your choice of flavor of a protein shake mix and Shaklee's exclusive immune system support, NutriFeron.
The Shaklee Vitalizer Wellness Pack is a simple three step nutrition program carefully designed to provide you with necessary ingredients for a life of health, wellness, and vitality.

Step 1 is Vitalizer. 80 bio-optimized nutrients clinically proven to create a foundation for a longer healthier life. With the S.M.A.R.T delivery system and based on 12 Shaklee clinical studies, Vitalizer delivers the right nutrients, to the right place at the right time.

Step 2 is NutriFeron. A breakthrough in immune science, NutriFeron strengthens your immune system by naturally boosting the body's natural production of interferon

Step 3 is Energizing Soy Protein shake mix. Protein is an essential building block for health that is critical for muscle retention, immunity and virtually every other function in the body. Cinch shakes provide all the benefits of a meal in a great-tasting, convenient shake mix.

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