One of the most common questions I get is “Should I take a multi-vitamin?”. My answer, Abs-o-flippin-lutely! I understand the debate about the need for vitamin supplements. In fact, in pharmacy school it was preached most people get their recommended daily vitamin amounts through diet alone, and don’t require a multivitamin. That’s what I believed for the first 7 years of my practice.
I wonder what they teach in pharmacy school now? See, I graduated in May 2002, later that year the American Medical Association released a study declaring only 20% of Americans get the minimum recommended daily vitamin allowances from their diet and should take a supplement. While no modern health professional, including myself, would suggest a multivitamin replaces a healthy diet, the prevailing wisdom for supplementation is now my Rule #3: Take your Vitamins.
For me, Take your Vitamins goes much deeper than taking a simple drugstore multivitamin. There is growing evidence, and it is my professional belief, that vitamin supplementation can protect us from diseases caused by something called oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is cell damage caused by free radicals produced from toxins in our environment. (Confused? I’ll discuss oxidative stress in-depth later)
The number of toxins in our environment has increased exponentially. In turn, free radical exposure has increased. Therefore, the amount of vitamins required to protect our cells from free radical attack is much higher than current daily recommendations. And much higher than what you can realistically get from your diet. Hence, the need for a multi-vitamin supplement.
The idea of vitamin protection against disease-causing free radical damage and oxidative stress is one of my central professional beliefs. As such, you’ll see plenty of blog entries discussing this topic. In addition, I’ll regularly post on topics related to all things vitamin and supplement.
That’s rule #3. Love it. Learn it. You’ll see it often around these parts.