Dr. Emma here today to tell you my top 3 reasons why you SHOULD NOT take vitamins every day!
If you don't know or remember me, I am Dr. Emma Petshow, a licensed naturopathic physician in the state of Oregon (located in the great Pacific NW). I am writing this here post today in my PJs while on winter break to give you a little update on some reasons why you should not take vitamins everyday. I get this might sound weird coming from a naturopathic physician, TRUST ME I get it, but I'm here to break it down.
In general multivitamins do not work unless if you have a nutritional deficiency of some sort. Now this is a major generalization, but why I am saying this is that multivitamins have a very teensy tiny amount of vitamin and mineral content in them in comparison to your daily RDA (Recommended Daily Amount) suggested of each vitamin. This means is if you are taking a multivitamin you are probably not actually getting that much of the actual vitamin to make a significant health difference.
To be clear, this does not apply to ALL situations and I will lay into some of those situations below, but realistically if you are relatively healthy or maybe have a focused complaint or health issue that you need support (the majority of humans), then a multivitamin is not going to be your go to supplement of choice. In fact just forget about it!
Most people in general get their recommended daily amounts of vitamins and minerals if they are eating fruits and veggies daily. A good amount of fruits and veggies could be anywhere from three to five servings. What I often like to tell my patients is to take a plate, chop it into four sections, and try to fill up half the plate (two of the four sections) with good fruits and vegetables. Make it a good variety by getting all your different colors in there. Your yellow veggies and fruits (bell peppers and bananas), reds or purples (tomatoes and eggplant), blues (blueberries), greens (kale, spinach, broccoli), and oranges (carrots and cantaloupe). Get a variety of those different colors and per day and you will be getting a lot, if not most, of your recommended vitamins and minerals that you need to be healthy and to live a normal healthy life.
The tale of 4 meals.
There are some exceptions to this no multivitamin rule. If you do not like to eat fruits or vegetables (come talk to me and we can work on this) or if you have a really, really restricted diet where you are not eating a lot of variety of foods. Maybe you have a specific absorption issue or reason that you are not getting enough nutrients. Or if you are trying to prepare for pregnancy... then these are reasons where a multivitamin can be helpful. This especially rings true for people working on preconception (trying to prepare their body to conceive), then a prenatal vitamin is obviously recommended.
For the general, average population taking a multivitamin alone is not so great. I personally do not take one, but I do recommend it to some patients in some scenarios.
Okay, that was just reason #1... are you still with me?
Why you should NOT take vitamins daily is that not all vitamins are safe and not all vitamins should be treated equal. If you take one Vitamin C and then another the dosages will even likely vary. That is if you are taking the correct, safe dosage, which most people do not even know what a safe dosages for a vitamin are. Even if you look it up online it is not super clear and there is a lot of misinformation online.
Let me tell you story (or a few)... I have a patient, a fabulous person I have worked with for a long time, and they were eating a really healthy diet as well as supplementing with some nice good healthy greens, powders, and all kinds of things. We go to measure their vitamin levels and it came back that their vitamin B6 was SUPER elevated. We call that hypervitaminosis (too much vitamin B6). They were also having symptoms including numbness and tingling in their hands and feet, which is a side effect of high vitamin B6 levels in the body. Therefore we discontinued all Vitamin B6 and looked at every supplement they were taking make sure they were not taking any B6. After that elimination it took over a year for the Vitamin B6 level to normalize. Once it did, their numbness and tingling in their hands and feet resolved. So let me tell you, too much vitamins can be serious and you can harm yourself with vitamins if you do not take the right amount, take too much, or take too little. Please, please I beg of you, do not just randomly take vitamins without checking with a health provider first.
You probably need another example, here ya go, let's take about Vitamin D, let's talk about you and me (okay sorry). Everyone loves vitamin D right? Everyone in the Pacific Northwest is pretty much constantly being told to take your vitamin D, because we do not get enough sun here. This is totally true, but you should have your level measured at least once a year if you are supplementing to make sure you are taking enough to improve your levels but not too much so that you cause a toxicity. Vitamin D in excess can cause symptoms that look like anxiety such as racing heart, feel symptoms of panic, jittery, and more. If you have low vitamin D you might be feeling sluggish, a little down or depressed, and may have seasonal affective disorder so making sure your level is measured and then taking the appropriate amount is SUPER DUPER important. I cannot stress this enough!
While I am on this safety train, another thing to think about with vitamins is that some vitamin companies or manufacturers are better than others. Here is the big secret, that is not so much of a secret, there is no FDA official oversight on vitamins. Again, ALERT, there is no official FDA oversight on vitamin companies. Now do not freak out and throw away all of your supplements. Some supplement companies do their due diligence and have registered with the FDA, have FDA compliant facilities, and are following good manufacturing practices. They are really trying hard to make sure that their supplements are safe, effective, and contain what they say they contain. There are a lot of vitamin companies though, especially ones that love the mass media, mass marketing, and the proprietary ingredients, who do not do 3rd party testing. This means I cannot guarantee to you that you are getting what the vitamin "says" you are getting, which naturally is dangerous. Again, do not mass panic please! Just be weary, be cautious, and ALWAYS work with a provider (like a naturopathic physician) who has been trained in vitamin and supplementation to support you in your vitamin/supplement choices, make sure you. are taking a safe (and effective dose) for YOUR body, and ensure that your health provider understands that EVERY-BODY is completely different.
Last thing on this, you can have vitamins and minerals, even though they are natural, they can interact with each other, with food, and with medicines. Depending on what other things you are taking you need to be cautious that the combination together is safe and also effective. Some things taken together can be synergistic, meaning that they work together and cause an increased effect. Some things can be antagonistic, meaning that they block each other and have a decreased effect. Just be cautious, be informed, and make sure you have support if you do not know!
Why you should not take vitamins everyday is because you should only take vitamins if they are recommended by a healthcare provider who has studied nutrition, herbal medicines, and how supplementation works. As a naturopathic physician, I can recommend vitamins and supplements safely and I often do recommend supplements that are targeted for my patients' health and Wellness. I also personally take supplements as well. Some things I take on the daily include, fish oil, hawthorn (a herb), NAC (N-acetyl cysteine), and a whole plethora of things that would probably shock you, but they are all based on my own person health and wellness needs.
Now the biggest PSA of why you should NOT take vitamins everyday, which really is IF you take vitamins make sure it is in an informed consent kind of way. Make sure that you are doing things that are PERSONALIZED to you. If you are ever going and shopping around for health information online and you come across a healthcare provider or health "influencer" or someone who is giving you a catchall plan that you can buy online without meeting with them first BE WEARY. Every BODY is different and not every person will respond to the same plan the same way. What might work for someone might not be appropriate or safe for your situation.
Some of my patients that I work with on a whole host of different conditions are all treated using different means depending on THEIR goals and needs. For example let's take a condition like PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). I will have one patient taking things like chromium or maybe a herb such as vitex or a combination supplement that has multiple factors in it! Some patients of mine with PCOS are managing symptoms with medication or hormones and even some are managing with diet intervention and lifestyle changes alone. Every single patient I look at is different and you should take the same care of yourself and make sure that you are focusing on your own health. DO NOT get swayed by mass media marketing, because let me tell you I have been there before and I am a physician trained in this stuff.
With all of that said, if you are looking for someone to support you on your health journey I am a licensed, board-certified naturopathic physician. I am happy to be that person on your health team, so if you are interested check out my main website: www.dremmapetshow.com.
Talk with you soon!