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mazingerz88's avatar

Must one really take multi-vitamin pill supplement at age 50 up to stay healthy?

Asked by mazingerz88 (24884points) June 11th, 2019 from iPhone

As asked.

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17 Answers

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Nope. Our resident doc here changed my mind about that one. Took a little reading on my part but multivitamins don’t help much outside of some rare deficiency.

JLeslie's avatar

No, but I take them. Most studies done on this conclude taking multivitamins is a waste of money. Some studies specifically measured whether it increased life span, and it was a resounding no. One study said it slightly shortened it, but I don’t know how large that study was. I also don’t know, and this is big, if the bothered to measure if the people in the studies had deficiencies, didn’t have deficiencies, were otherwise healthy, etc. I have no idea how well the studies were done.

I am deficient in D, iron, and very low normal B12 if I don’t take supplements. I take those three as separate supplements. I’m guessing I’m deficient or borderline in other vitamins and minerals that have not been tested. Remember, most doctors do very few tests for nutrient deficiency, the overwhelming belief in America ing the medical community is Americans aren’t deficient in anything. However, of the people I know who are tested an incredibly high number are deficient in D, a worthy amount are lowish in B12, but not as many as the D. Mind you B12 parameters are different in different countries. You can be normal in America, and the same number is seen as low in some Asian and European countries.

So, I pop multivitamins inconsistently, just for good measure. Especially, if I run out of the other vitamins or minerals I know I need. The multivitamin has significantly less D, B12, and iron than the supplements that are specific to each nutrient.

Edit: Another thing about the studies showing no significant help by taking multivitamins, a regular multivitamin would barely make a dent in my D deficiency. I think most multis have 400 or 800 IU’s. I need 8,000 to 10,000 IU’s. 800 might give me a point more D on my blood serum, but I’d still be extremely deficient. So, basically, the multi doesn’t help. Maybe better than nothing, but it’s not really a therapeutic dose for me. It’s like an adult taking a baby aspirin for a migraine, no change.

Caravanfan's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me That resident doc was probably me.
No, you don’t need supplementation. There are exceptions—we recommend a multivitimin or at least folate supplementation for pregnant woman, and iron for those who have iron deficiency anemia. For general health, though, you’re throwing out your money.

jca2's avatar

I get blood work done once a year and I’m often low in certain vitamins. For some vitamins, you don’t realize you’re low until your bones start breaking. My doctor told me this about Vitamin D. I take a supplement for C and a multi-vitamin. Ironically, someone I know (a woman in her late 50’s) told me her back broke (literally) last year and then she found out her level of D was low.

My advice is get your blood work done once a year and pay attention to it.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I take a D enhanced cod liver oil. That’s the one supplement I take.

mazingerz88's avatar

@JLeslie Do you take your B12 supplement by injection? If you don’t mind my asking. Thanks.

JLeslie's avatar

No, I usually buy the drops, because I find the B12 pills to be uncoated and difficult to swallow. I’m bad at swallowing pills. But, whether I take the pills or the drops my B12 number goes up. I’m usually between 550–650. Without supplements I quickly drop to 400. I’ve dipped below 400 at times, before I took it seriously. I don’t take it like I do my necessary meds (like thyroid meds, I’m vigilant) I’m a little lazy about the vitamins and minerals, but I take them at least a few days a week, sometimes I’m good about every day.

I don’t drag vitamins and minerals along on vacations usually, or obsess about them daily. The two I know I become very deficient are iron and D, so I can take a bunch of those before traveling, or take a bunch if I forgot to take them for a few days, since we don’t just pee those out. Mind you, I don’t take more than what a doctor would be ok with at once. Like, I usually would take one pill of iron a day, but I know I can take as much as two at a time twice a day, so if I miss a few days, I would pop two at once the next time I remember, if I knew my iron was very low.

B12 is water soluble, so that one we do get rid of, and need to replenish to keep the number up. However, I do know people who have had high B12 numbers, and were told to stop taking the shots. Unless, you have been medically diagnosed with pernicious anemia or actually extremely deficient, I would think just take the pills or drops and retest. That’s not medical advice, that’s just what seems reasonable to me. @Caravanfan might would know better than me on that. I don’t know the when the standard of care is to prescribe the shot.

The fat soluble vitamins are ADEK, the others you pee out. Minerals are something you have to be careful with; too much can cause serious problems. You might know all that, but just in case others don’t I figured I lost them.

My advice is always get tested. I never tell people to take what I take, or to just pop pills. Some “multivitamins” have huge doses of vitamins and minerals. You have to read the labels. A huge dose of A can harm a fetus. Huge doses of calcium could become a risk for kidney stones and stiffening if soft tissues, even a cardiac risk. Huge doses of iron can be deadly, causing heart problems, especially for children. Men tend to not need iron, so they also need to watch the labels, one a day for men is going to have very low or no iron for that reason.

100% of the US recommendation daily is a very small amount of vitamins and minerals, and usually not any worry of overdosing. Still, I say get tested.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

Not generally, no.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I need the Vit D because my numbers were low and for whatever reason the combo with the oil brings it up without taking a mega dose pill. I read that article too. I’m not 100% convinced as my HDL numbers are better when I take it also. Could be the D or it could be the oil.

JLeslie's avatar

@Caravanfan Thank you for that article.

@ARE_you_kidding_me I tried to read up on D and cholesterol, this interests me a lot, and from what I found the studies that were done didn’t show taking D helped cholesterol numbers. But, what I don’t remember is if the D was taken with fish oil. I guess what you take has a very high concentration of D, I don’t know if that is the natural level of D in that oil, or if the D is higher in your drops compared to naturally occurring fish oil?

I really wanted to understand how D and cholesterol work together in the body, but the materials were too difficult for me, I need a doctor to translate it. I think maybe people like me who need high doses of D to absorb enough and who have high cholesterol, maybe we evolved that way for a good reason to protect us, but then it has a downside of killing us also. Like an allergic reaction is to fight an invader in the body, but when the body overdoes the reaction it can cause anaphylaxis and death.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

It’s orders of magnitude lower in the oil. It just seems to absorb better and my numbers show it. My HDL numbers almost doubled after taking it too. I stopped for a year and they both went back down. Back on it and they’re both up again. I will continue to take it.
Also, regular fish oil did nothing to help my HDL that I noticed. Not sure what the chemistry going on here is.

JLeslie's avatar

^^I remember you sent me a photo once of the bottle. I didn’t buy it at the time, but I want to try it. I’m going to look for your message and buy it. Probably can’t hurt to try.

The thing is I don’t need my HDL’s up as much as I need my total cholesterol to come down, but maybe increasing HDL’s will bring the total down?

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Never did for me, just made the ratio better.

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