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Should You Stop Taking Multi-Vitamins?

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Today's headlines often feature new studies that severely bash the benefits of multi-vitamins. Some claim it's a waste of money, and even go so far as to say multi-vitamins do absolutely no good. We say giving up a good multi-vitamin is not the answer to living longer, or living better.

We're convinced that some vitamin supplements have plenty of health-protecting benefits -- especially if you're over 50, eat a less-than-perfect diet, are a woman of reproductive age or are among the tens of millions of Americans who take nutrient-zapping drugs for high blood pressure, diabetes or to tame stomach acid. That's a lot of folks. So why the opposition to multivitamins?

Recent studies quoted in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that multivitamins didn't sharpen thinking or memory in men who ate healthy diets. They also quoted a study that found no benefit for longevity, cancer prevention or heart health in people without nutrient deficiencies

The truth is many of us don't have healthy diets and many of us may have nutrient deficiencies. Food prices are going up, processed foods are abundant, thus, budgets of both time and money often lead to less than ideal meal choices. 

Nutrition studies rarely, if ever, look at an underlying issue - the food production itself. The nutrient value of today's food is no longer as high as it was in the days of our parents and grandparents. While chemicals can help soil depletion, and irrigation can bring bumper crops, that tomato you grow in your backyard garden from composted soil will have higher levels of nutrients than the one grown in the chemically prepared soil of a greenhouse.

Here are some other benefits of daily multivitamin use for certain groups of people.

If you're over age 50: A multivitamin can reduce risk for non-prostate cancers by 6 percent to 18 percent in men and cut risk for adenomas -- polyps that can become colon cancers -- by 20 percent. To cut your risk for vision loss and early forms of age-related macular degeneration, add 900 mg of DHA and a lutein and zeaxanthin supplement to help protect your eyes.

If you're a woman of reproductive age: Take a multivitamin enriched with the 400-600 mg DHA omega-3 at least three months before you conceive and throughout your pregnancy. It can reduce your child's risk for autism 40 percent, of serious birth defects 80 percent and of childhood cancers (those that strike between ages 2 and 6) 65 percent. Since 50 percent of pregnancies are unplanned, taking your multi daily whether you're thinking about motherhood or not is a good idea. If you do become pregnant, talk with your doctor about other prenatal vitamins.

Other issues that can contribute to a lack of efficient nutrient utilization are stress, alcohol consumption, smoking, pollutants absorbed by the body from the water or air, metabolic changes, and diet changes. If you eat well, ALL the time, and have no other factors in your life that might affect how your body uses the fuel from those well balanced meals, you can probably skip the vitamins.

But if you're like most of us, multi-vitamins form an inexpensive, biological insurance policy against an imperfect diet. Carol Bond Health Foods has two outstanding multi-vitamin sources. Geri-Hi, for those over age 50, and Mega-Hi for those under 50. Taking a multivitamin supplement won't harm you, but it certainly can help you live longer, and live better!