I always hear that my patients take daily vitamins that they ordered online or bought from the pharmacy. This story comes up every time and I’m uncomfortable with it.
You may just think I love the ‘naturalistic medicines”, but that isn’t true. I learned over time that I have to question a lot of the things that humans believe to be true, only because of stories like this.
Every day I feel so thankful that I have am healthy and have good friends. It is a particular pleasure to see one friend of mine, André, with whom I always have more intelligent conversations on different things. But when it comes to medicine, he always talks about his ‘passion’ for daily vitamins.
– What do you take?
I want him to understand what he is currently taking.
– A daily multivitamin, and probiotics for good gut health.
– Ok, good job with the probiotics, but I hope you take a break from the vitamins every now and then.
– I don’t purposely stop taking them, but some days I forget to take them. It isn’t like the daily multivitamin that I’ve been taking every day for a couple of years.
– A couple of years of daily multivitamins?
– Yes, it is important for my health
– André is a successful 32-year-old with an athletic past, but he has gained weight in the last couple of years. He works long hours and doesn’t have as much time for physical exercise. It is beginning to become a concern for him and his wife. Even I am starting to worry about him.
This is why a daily multivitamin is NOT a solution to good health:
- Generally speaking, you should only take vitamins when you are deficient in a certain type of nutrient. They aren’t a preventative measure, there are no benefits to taking them without needing them. Try to meditate instead.
The first step to better health is to balance your daily diet. This way, you will get the vitamins and nutrients that you need from what you consume. It is so much simpler.
The ‘5 fruits and vegetables per day’ rule is a good start. Begin by choosing the vegetables that you think you will enjoy and try to stick to eating them. Because of human habits, it is even better if you can eat the fruits and vegetables that are in season.
According to the CDC’s data, only 12.2% of Americans meet the standard for fruit consumption, and only 9.3% meet the standard for vegetables. It doesn’t take much to meet the standard, and you definitely don’t want to follow this behaviour.
- What really is a daily multivitamin?
A daily multivitamin is a pill or gummy that can be taken every day, consisting of couple of vitamins (12, 18, 24 or even more) in a “unique combination just for you”.
Let’s be serious. Take the example of 5 different buckets. 3 of them are full of water, 1 is only half filled and the last one is empty. If you add a glass of water to each, what will happen? The full ones will always be full, it may even overflow, the half bucket will be still to a half after the supplementary glass of water, and that one that is empty will have just a little bit of water on its bottom. So, the result? That one’s that are full will stay full and the empty one will have 2% more water.
It’s peanuts and won’t do anything. The same goes for daily multivitamins. Adding small quantities of vitamins that you don’t need or adding a small quantity where you need a lot more is not efficient at all; it is a waste of money too.
- The third point is a little more psychological, and I will stop after this one because you might think I am crazy. Taking a pill every day that is ‘supposed’ to help you doesn’t mean it actually is helping. The only thing that it does is remove your guilt for not being as healthy as you should be.
Be mature and self-aware about it, do something serious about your health. A ‘magic’ pill that makes you healthy does not exist.
How can you do better?
Easy, talk to your doctor about your problems. It’s okay to worry about being tired, having concentration problems or wanting to prevent diseases. But by talking to your doctor, they will give you proper advice. If your doctor wants you to take vitamins, they will prescribe them to you or take blood tests to determine if you have a deficiency somewhere. After that, you will only take vitamins that you actually need.
OK, I’m a bit hot about this subject but believe me, you can do much better without your daily pill.
Wow, another 1000 words article only to say this. I must leave you now, I’m going to see my friend André and his wife for a long walk in the forest.
PS: Yes, here in France, we love to walk in forests, even for a couple of hours. It’s great exercise that connects you with nature and gets you away from pollution. Do you know the real impact of pollution on our body?
PPS: Are you taking some daily multivitamins? Tell me why and how long you have been doing this. Maybe for me it’s only a fixed idea and you could change my mind about your daily vitamins without making researching before. Also note that I’m not talking about people with chronic diseases, post-surgical interventions, or pregnant women. If your physician says that you need it, take it!