Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What's Really in Your Multivitamin?


Our society these days loves magic cures, especially if they come in pill form. I guess that's why multivitamins are so popular; people think that if they take them, they will cover all of their bases and their health will improve. Well, according to a recent report from consumerlab.com, 30% of the multivitamins they tested contained either significantly more or less of certain ingredients than what's stated on the label, and some were even contaminated with lead!

The report went on to warn that many of the supplements tested exceeded the tolerable upper intake level (the highest levels safe for consumption before toxicity becomes a risk) for ingredients such as vitamin A, folic acid, niacin and zinc. This included three multis for children! Others fell up to 50% short of what was claimed for vitamin A, folic acid and calcium. This was found across women's, men's, seniors', children's, prenatal and generic multis.

Now, of course we need our vitamins and minerals, but we must all realize that, in addition to what's on the label, we're getting them naturally from the foods we eat! If multivitamins contain high levels of micronutrients, there's a good chance we will exceed our tolerable upper intake levels and put ourselves at risk for some potentially serious health issues. Isn't that the opposite of what we were going for? Not to mention money wasted!

Keep in mind that, ultimately, multivitamins are called 'supplements' for a reason - they're like an insurance policy on diets that might not be adequately providing the necessary micronutrients that we require. So before you start swallowing them down, take a good look at your diet to assess whether or not you even need them; if you feel you do, look for reputable brands that have been tested and perfected, and go for ones with low doses or don't take them every day.

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