by Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP
Virtually everyone has a family history that includes a chronic illness such as heart disease, diabetes or cancer. You may be concerned that you carry a genetic predisposition to one or more of these diseases. But recent science has shown there’s much you can do to prevent disease, starting with nutrition. The good news is that with optimal nutrition, including dietary supplements, you can rewrite your life story with a happier ending.
Much has been made in the news recently about whether taking a daily multivitamin/mineral (MVM) is a good or a bad idea. Since half of all Americans are already taking MVM’s, the National Institute of Health decided to convene a panel to come to some consensus as to whether this practice is safe and effective against chronic diseases.
There are always two sides to a good debate, and trying to give Americans a one-size-fits-all solution in the form of a multivitamin is no one’s idea of a solution. But one thing I do know from my own clinical experience is that a daily, top-of-the-line multivitamin will not harm you, and it may do you a world of good. At my practice and on a personal level, I see on a regular basis the dramatic positive effect taking a good multivitamin has had on my patients, my family, and my friends.
So why are so many people still unaware of the importance of taking vitamins? Which vitamins do you need and what are the best multivitamins to take? Why are drug companies and doctors often opposed to nutritional supplements? Why is there continued debate over vitamin safety and dosages?
Let’s look at this topic in light of recent studies so that you can take an informed approach.
If you read the NIH panel’s state-of-the-science statement, you’ll see that the findings are inconclusive and that they requested more studies. The mainstream media has spun this to read that the NIH panel’s findings were “insufficient” to recommend multivitamins to the general population. In fact, the panel made no such claim — their own press release simply urged “a more informed approach.” At Women to Women, an informed approach is our standard protocol, including any and all uses of dietary supplements.
We’ve used nutritional supplements and dietary changes as medical therapies for over 20 years. To this day we recommend that every woman take a pharmaceutical-grade vitamin. Yet we agree there are reasons to be concerned about how multivitamins are marketed and used. So let’s talk about what we advocate when it comes to dietary supplements and how we answer women’s questions about the vitamin controversy.