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Personal Trainers vs. Multivitamins: The Overwhelming Exception
As someone who has been both a student and employee in the field of exercise science and wellness and very well versed in the science behind multivitamins, I have seen and heard my fair share of horror stories when it comes to personal trainers.
Now, don’t get me wrong…
Most personal trainers are incredible individuals who dedicate their time and effort to helping all types of people achieve their health and wellness goals.
Designing individualized programs, encouraging clients, and keeping track of progress is equally difficult as it is fulfilling to these wellness heroes.
However, we’ve all heard of the occasional exception to the general rule of good personal trainers.
You know the ones: high strung, incredibly demanding, difficult to work with, loading too much onto their clients too soon, and generally creating an environment where they feel physically and emotionally overwhelmed.
While these are (thankfully) the exceptions to the rule in the world of personal training, this is the exact opposite in the case of multivitamins.
The Science Behind Multivitamins
Multivitamins are loaded chock-full of many vitamins, minerals, herbs, spices, pastes, dyes, explosives, flying monkeys, and everything else you could think of that may or may not help the human body stay happy and healthy.
This can easily overwhelm almost anyone attempting to sift through what substances are in which multi, what is useful and what is not, which doses are proper for which vitamins or minerals, etc.
Multivitamins can quickly feel like a bad personal trainer, throwing everything but the kitchen sink at your unhealthy diet to fill any nutritional gaps you may have while neglecting that you may already have some decent aspects to your diet.
Because of this, many people (myself included) have often resorted to just looking at the label of a multivitamin, finding which one has the most “stuff” in it, and choosing that one rather than taking the time to consider our body’s needs and the science behind multivitamins.
When evaluating a supplement, be sure to consider factors such as…
- What is needed or not needed.
- What the proper doses of various substances are.
- How much nutritional value one is already getting from their diet.
The “Right” Dose of Health
When we look at many multivitamin supplements on the market, we will see examples of white labels that say, “Vitamin A, 200% DV. Vitamin C, 250% DV. Niacin, 500% DV, Vitamin B12, 1667% DV. etc.”
Looking at these supplements, we often think, “more must be better… right?”
This sentiment, sadly, is incorrect.
That fact is that the problem with many supplements, according to the National Institutes of Health, is that an average multivitamin often contains doses of substances over the UL or “Upper Limit” of the recommended dose according to the Food and Nutrition Board, such as vitamin A, iron, zinc, and niacin for the average adult, (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services).
Excessive micronutrient intakes have also been found for folic acid in adults, elderly populations, and even in children.
Excessive intake of vitamin A, iron, zinc, niacin and folate can cause nausea, vomiting, headaches, itchy skin, burning sensations, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and can even increase risks of certain types of cancers.
IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE that these are symptoms of extremely high or chronically high intakes of micronutrients.
And here’s another interesting aspect of the science behind multivitamins.
Even taking a multivitamin with doses of nutrients above the UL takes weeks, months, or years of chronic overdose for symptoms like these to manifest.
Research has also shown that individuals who take multivitamin supplements typically have higher nutritional value in their daily diets than those who do not take multivitamins.
In other words, the people who most need multivitamins because of a poor diet don’t take them, and people who don’t need them as much are the people who take multivitamins most often.
In addition, the science behind multivitamins tells us that most have doses of nutrients that are at least above the recommended daily value or DV because of a concept referred to as “bioavailability.”
Let’s take a closer look at the research-backed science behind multivitamins.
According to a research review by Dr. Comerford out of the University of California – Davis, bioavailability can be described by how well certain nutrients are dissolved, absorbed, and utilized by the body.
Various things can affect the bioavailability of nutrients in a multivitamin, including the form in which the nutrient comes (food, hard-packed pill, capsule, soft gel, liquid, etc.) and the “competing or synergistic combination” of the nutrients.
For example, nutrients from food are the most bioavailable, followed by liquids, soft gels, capsules, and then hard-packed pills.
In addition, certain substances help the body to absorb each other (Vitamin D and Calcium or Vitamin C and Iron) or inhibit the absorption of other substances (Vitamin D and Calcium both inhibit iron absorptions, and Vitamin C and iron inhibit calcium absorption.) (Comerford, 2013).
Bioavailability also has somewhat of an individualistic component to it.
Some people absorb nutrients better than others.
When a multivitamin allows for more bioavailability of its nutrients, the doses of each nutrient do not have to be as high, which makes it less likely for an overdose, and allows for the general population to absorb more easily and utilize the nutrients provided.
When the bioavailability of nutrients in a multivitamin is lower, the doses have to be higher for more possible nutrients to be absorbed.
This causes an increased risk of overdose for people who more easily absorb nutrients than the general population.
This is why it is essential to take into account the doses of nutrients in a supplement and the bioavailability of these nutrients.
Benefits of Multivitamins: Do They Work?
Multivitamins have been in use since the 1940s, and there has been plenty of research done on the effects or efficacy of multivitamins in health for a wide range of populations and health topics.
One of the most comprehensive studies in recent history was called the Physicians Health Study II, the second of two long-term studies into the effects of multiple nutritional interventions, including multivitamin supplementation, on various health outcomes, including cardiovascular disease and cancer.
The double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study began in 1997 and ran through 2011 on almost 15,000 male participants.
Multiple studies were published describing the findings of this comprehensive study.
Gaziano et al. found that multivitamins had a moderate but significant effect in reducing cancer incidence over the 15 years (Gaziano et al., 2012).
However, Sesso found that taking multivitamins had no significant impact on reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease (Sesso et al., 2012).
The multivitamin in this study was Centrum Silver, which is distributed as a hard-packed pill.
These effects and outcomes may be different for a more bioavailable form of the multivitamin.
A meta-analysis of studies on the results of multivitamins on cognitive function found that multivitamin consumption improved immediate free recall memory (Grima et al., 2012).
In other words, individuals who took multivitamin supplements over at least ten weeks showed more effective short-term memory than those who did not take multivitamin supplements.
Basis Health: Multivitamins’ Good Personal Trainer
Where many companies fall short of creating properly-dosed and highly bioavailable multivitamins, Basis Health surges forward.
Basis Health is a nutritional supplement company that aids in healthy balance by making genuinely “supplementary” supplements to your diet instead of “substitutionary.”
Supplements are meant to make up for the gaps in our nutrition, not to replace our daily dietary needs, as described above and directly from the NIH multivitamin fact sheet.
The Basis Health team understands the science behind multivitamins and painstakingly measured and researched the most effective doses to support the average dietary intake of your typical American citizen.
Their soft gel capsule is quickly dissolved and digested, making the nutrients highly bioavailable for our bodies to use.
Their nutrients are, on average lower than the typical dietary supplement, which is the idea.
Their supplement is meant to support and not to replace the nutritional value of our daily food intake.
Suppose we already get 50 – 80% (as an example) of our daily value of Vitamin A, Bs, C, D, Calcium, Iron, etc., from our food.
In that case, we don’t need our multivitamin to contain another 300% of our daily value of each of those substances.
In addition, Basis Health has included some of the most effective naturals herbal ingredients to give you the best of the best daily multivitamin and mineral stack available today.
If you would like more information on the Basis Health supplements and their focus on the science behind multivitamins and other essential supplements, you can read more here.
Regardless of your nutritional supplementation decisions, make sure that you are informed about your diet.
Making the best decisions in life always requires study and deliberation, and your diet should be no different.
Find out where your “nutritional gaps” are and fill them accordingly.
Doing so can help to ensure that we live long, healthy, and happy lives!