Multivitamin Benefits for Health: Consider These Alternatives Instead
Published | 5 min read
One of the claims of multivitamin benefits is the ease of getting all your vitamins and minerals in one daily pill. But do they really work?
For years, there have been countless advertisements listing multivitamin benefits. We’re spoilt for choice with
The use of multivitamins began in the early 1940s in the United States. With an even larger market, sales of
Multivitamin Benefits: What are the
Myths and Facts?
Multivitamins are dietary supplements containing isolated compounds of essential vitamins and minerals. They are usually marketed as one-a-day tablets or capsules to help maintain health and correct deficiencies in individuals. Some also have specific claims of suitability for use by
Multivitamins improve health
Other studies, including one conducted by the Women’s Health Initiative on post-menopausal
Perhaps the most revealing study was a Physicians Health Study II that
Fact: There is a risk of excessive vitamin intake with multivitamins
With the intake of multivitamins, there’s a risk of
An overdose of vitamin A can lead to vision disturbances, joint pain, nausea and vomiting, for example. Excessive iron amounts can cause stomach upset, constipation and fainting while excessive zinc intake can result in a loss of appetite, abdominal cramps, diarrhoea, and headaches.
In Canada and the US, the amount of folic acid in prenatal multivitamins tend to exceed the recommended amount.
Beta-carotene is another potentially risky supplement, especially for smokers and former smokers. Two studies have linked the intake of this supplement to an increased risk of lung cancer.
Many studies that look at multivitamin use also show that users who report better health also tend to be health-conscious and practice a healthier lifestyle in the first place. In that situation,
TCM Alternatives to Multivitamins
The concept of multivitamin benefits in boosting health and vitality is absent from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Instead, TCM focuses on maintaining a healthy body, with modalities that enhance the body’s ability to maintain its health and heal itself.
“TCM can help boost energy through acupuncture, herbal medication, cupping, tui na (Chinese manual therapy), moxibustion and gua sha (scraping), all of which are formulated carefully by a TCM physician to specifically address the unique body constitution of every individual patient,” explains Real Health Senior TCM Physician Brandon Yew.
If you experience some imbalances, deficiencies, or excesses that result in compromised health and
Ginseng (ren shen, 人参), including American ginseng (xi yang shen, 西洋参) and panax notoginseng (tian qi, 田七)
- Cordyceps (dong cong xia cao, 冬虫夏草)
- Astragalus (huang qi, 黄芪)
- Dendrobium (shi hu, 石斛)
- White fungus (yin er, 银耳)
Studies on panax notoginseng, for example, have been able to demonstrate its lipid-lowering activity. It resulted in a significant reduction of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) in the serum levels of rats.
“Ginseng improves vitality and immunity, is anti-ageing, and helps improve blood circulation,” explains Physician Yew.
Lingzhi, also known as reishi mushrooms, are also great antioxidants. Studies show an increase in the plasma total antioxidant activity in human subjects when they consume the mushrooms. The polysaccharides in lingzhi have protective effects against cancerous activity in cells.
“In addition, lingzhi controls blood sugar, improves vitality and immunity, can help calm nerves and improve sleep, as well as strengthens lung function to manage chronic cough,” Physician Yew says.
Like many of these superfoods, lingzhi helps boost energy levels to combat fatigue, so you won’t have to resort to energy drinks. It’s important to note that
Perhaps there is no harm in believing in multivitamin benefits, especially in specific cases of deficiencies or for special needs like during pregnancy. But with studies failing to show definitive health improvement by taking multivitamins, we must be cautious not to fall prey to marketing. Instead, you can turn to healthy and balanced nutrition through food, exercise, and lifestyle as your best chance of longevity and well-being.
- Statista.com, 2021. Revenue of vitamins & minerals in Malaysia from 2012 to 2025. [Accessed 20 July 2022].
- National Institutes of Health, US. 2022. Multivitamin/mineral Supplements. [Accessed 20 July 2022].
- British Heart Foundation, UK. Are multivitamins good for you? [Accessed 20 July 2022].
- Aging and Disease. 2017. Therapeutic Potential and Cellular Mechanisms of Panax Notoginseng on Prevention of Aging and Cell Senescence-Associated Diseases. [Accessed 20 July 2022].
- National Center of Biotechnology Information (NCBI), US. 2011. Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi or Reishi) (Chapter 9 of Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition). [Accessed 20 July 2022].
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