Subject: Tips From The Professor: Are Multivitamins Dead? – Part 2
Tips From The Professor: Are Multivitamins Dead? – Part 2
In last week’s “Tips From The Professor” I was critiquing
the November 2010 article in Prevention Magazine titled
“Should You Kick the Multivitamin Habit?”
I made the following points:
1) It is very difficult to prove that any intervention
is beneficial in an essentially healthy population.
As an example I discussed the recent study showing that
you cannot even demonstrate a benefit from statin drugs
in a healthy population with elevated cholesterol.
2) If you wish to demonstrate the effectiveness of an
intervention, you need to focus on those individuals
who are actually at risk.
And I gave examples of studies that show supplementation
does make a difference in populations who are at risk.
This week I would like to continue my discussion by
making several more observations:
3) Not all multivitamins are the same.
Shaklee is unique in the food supplement industry in that they
design their supplements based on solid science, employ
pharmaceutical grade quality control standards and conduct
clinical studies to prove the effectiveness of their supplements.
For example, Shaklee designed their multivitamin Vita-
Lea and their calcium supplements based on the research
of Dr. Paul Saltman, who studied the micronutrient
composition needed to optimize the utilization of
calcium for bone formation. And an independent clinical
study showed that the calcium in Vita-Lea was twice as
effective as a calcium carbonate supplement at
decreasing bone loss in postmenopausal women (JAMA,
244: 1915, 1980).
Similarly, an independent clinical study showed that
Shaklee’s Vita-Lea improved immune response in older
healthy adults (J Am Coll Nutr, 17: 511, 1998).
My perspective is that when interpreting studies of
multivitamin usage in the general population it is
important to remember that most of those multivitamins
have never been tested to see if they actually work!
4) Multivitamins are good, but you can do better.
This is one area where I agree with the basic premise
of the Prevention article.
Multivitamins are the most economical form of
supplementation, but based on what we know today they
are clearly not the optimal form of supplementation.
Perhaps the clearest evidence of that is the Landmark study
conducted by Dr. Gladys Block of UC Berkeley (Nutrition J,
6: 1-11, 2007).
She compared people who had followed a comprehensive
program of supplementation using the Shaklee
supplements for 20 years or more with people who just
used multivitamins or used no supplementation.
The people who used the Shaklee supplements had
significantly better health than the multivitamin users
and the non-supplement users.
In fact the multivitamin users fared no better than the
non-supplement users – which is to be expected because
the study was conducted in a healthy population.
Shaklee followed up by combining the key nutrients that
the Shaklee subjects were using in the Landmark study
into a supplement called Vitalizer, which represents
the latest in nutritional science.
Let me give you some examples:
Prevention made the point that one major problem with
multivitamins is that they often contain nutrients “in
isolation”. For example, they quote Dr. Neuhouser as
saying “The vitamin C in a multivitamin is likely just
not as effective as the vitamin C in a citrus fruit,
where it is surrounded by fiber and flavonoids and
I agree with this assessment – although the interaction
of vitamin C with flavonoids and carotenoids is much
stronger than its interaction with fiber.
In Vitalizer the vitamin C is surrounded by flavonoids
and carotenoids – and if you add Cinch you’ll get fiber
Prevention recommended omega-3 fatty acids. Vitalizer
contains the 500 mg of omega-3 fatty acids that the NIH
recommends for healthy adults. If you have health challenges
you can get more omega-3 fatty acids from Shaklee’s
Prevention recommended 1,000-1,200 mg of calcium from
food and supplements. The Vita-Lea in Vitalizer
contains 450 mg of calcium. When you add that to the
500-600 mg of calcium that most Americans get from
their diet you are right on target.
I personally think that the Prevention recommendation
is a bit low for post-menopausal women and men over 50,
but Shaklee has calcium supplements that you can use to
increase calcium intake to the 1,500-2,000 mg that some
Prevention recommended 800-1,000 IU of vitamin D. I
personally think that is a bit low, but Vitalizer alone
provides 1,000-1,200 IU of vitamin D3 (depending on
which Vitalizer you use) and you can increase your
vitamin D intake further with Shaklee’s Vita-D3.
Probiotics (friendly bacteria) are increasing
recognized as important for health, and Vitalizer also
These are just a few of many examples of how Vitalizer
represents a comprehensive, holistic approach to
This is why I recommend Vitalizer as the foundation for
anyone wanting to start a nutrition program to improve
5) The risks of multivitamin use have been over-hyped.
There are only a few studies that suggest risk from
multivitamin use and in every case they are
overshadowed by many other studies showing no risks.
I have pointed out in my previous “Tips From the
Professor” that it is normal for individual scientific
studies to report negative results.
A good scientist keeps an open mind but is guided by
the overwhelming preponderance of published studies.
On the other hand, journalists and those with an anti-
supplement bias tend to hype every negative study.
To Your Health!
Dr. Stephen G Chaney
P.S. Just in time for Christmas – a brand new 5 CD set
containing your favorite CDs from the past year. This
will make the perfect Christmas gift for your leaders
and business partners. It also makes a great
recognition reward to be presented to your superstars
at your January Kick-Off meetings.
Look for it soon at
Dr. Stephen Chaney
Shaklee Master Coordinator
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