Daily Archives: February 16, 2009

The End of the Multi-Vitamin

Ensconced in my warm living room, hidden from the rain that’s barreling down upon Southern California, I opened my email this morning to see the following: two nuclear subs crashed into one another and multi-vitamins are dead.  I know I should’ve been more concerned with the nuclear fender-bender, but my foremost thought was, “No more multi-vitamins?  Hurrah!” 

I’m a terrible pill taker and for those of you who simply put the pills on the back of your tongue and swallow, oh you don’t known how lucky you are.  Through college, my doctors humored my fear of swallowing pills and prescribed the liquid version of my medicines.  I didn’t mind.  The bubblegum penicillin tasted great.  After college however, I was expected to be an adult and being an adult meant swallowing pills and paying bills.  If someone had told me that the bubblegum penicillin dried up at graduation, I would’ve definitely stayed on to earn a PHD or three.  I’ve always been fascinated by art history, women’s rights, 15th century Russian poetry…

My point is, vitamins have been a pain in the rear-end for me because they’re just one more foreign object I have to convince myself to swallow…so I didn’t take them.  Then a few years ago, I started getting sick every winter from teaching so much (kids these days, germy germy germy) and my former boss told me that I had to start to taking vitamins.  So I went to my local Whole Foods and learned that I didn’t need to swallow a huge horsepill – Kid’s vitamins now came in big bottles of  gummy bears.  Score!  So I’ve been eating gummy bear vitamins ever since.

On February 6th however, the Archives of Internal Medicine published a recent study that proved that multi-vitamins don’t really work.  Unless you’re an alcoholic, a strict vegetarian or an anorexic, in which case, multi-vitamin away.  Individual vitamins on the other hand, are making a comeback and can be much more helpful.  Examples of this include:

  • Folic acid for women who are pregnant or who plan to become pregnant – because it can help prevent serious birth defects.
  • Vitamin D and calcium for older men and women – they can help prevent osteoporosis and bone fractures.
  • Vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, zinc, and copper – can help people with early ocular degeneration.
  • Here’s the article if you don’t believe me (by Simeon Margolis, M.D., Ph.D

    So take your vitamins, don’t take your vitamins, but if you ask me, a healthy diet sounds like the way to do it.  Unless the gummy bear vitamin company comes out with singular bottles; strawberry Vitamin D or fruit punch Vitamin E.  In that case, I might reconsider.

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