Selling lies: The truth about multivitamins and antioxidant supplements 44



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From green tea pills to goji berry powders, multivitamins and antioxidant supplements are more popular than ever. But just because Ricky Ponting swears by his in a television commercial, doesn’t mean they work.

There are thousands of substances in our body called antioxidants, which act as defence molecules to combat cell damage. It was always presumed then that the more antioxidants we consume – often in the form of a multivitamin – the better our body’s ability to fight ageing and disease.

But this theory has now been tested multiple times and is simply not true… yet we’re still being sold the lie.

Dietary antioxidants that are not in their natural food source might actually behave differently in the body than first thought. Mounting evidence from large scientific studies is showing that antioxidants in a manufactured form, such as supplements, do not always deliver the anti-ageing, disease-fighting benefits they promised.

In fact, some studies even conclude that bottled antioxidants may do more harm than good.

A review study published in 2013 looked at over 200,000 healthy people and nearly 81,000 people with various diseases, and concluded there was no evidence of benefits from antioxidant supplements or multivitamins. Those that had been using beta-carotene, and possibly vitamins E and A, actually had an increased risk of death. Not exactly results that multivitamin manufacturers plan on telling you anytime soon.

It’s clear that unnaturally high doses of antioxidants in their synthetic form are no match for whole foods.

Now don’t get me wrong. Many specific supplements can be very beneficial (such as iron or vitamin D), antioxidant-rich foods are still highly desirable, and I do still love Ricky Ponting.

The point is that if possible, you should try to get your vitamins and minerals from natural food sources such as vegetables, berries and legumes… rather than a 6-month old bottle in the supplement aisle. 

Share your thoughts below.

Joe Leech

Joe is a Clinical Dietitian from Sydney, with a Master's degree in nutrition and dietetics. He has spent the last decade studying, researching and writing about nutrition, especially diet-related disease and food intolerance. He believes that conventional medicine and natural medicine do not have to be mutually exclusive, and draws from the best of both areas when discussing nutrition science or giving dietary advice to treat conditions.

  1. I only thing I take other than prescription meds is magnesium without it I don’t sleep as I get terrible jumping legs, even now if I miss more than 2-3 days without it, the jumps come back

    7 REPLY
    • Yes I take Ethical Nutrients mega magnesium tab every morning, is really works, as yet I have not tried any other brands as that was the one my chemist gave me and I stuck with it

    • I taker a magnesium complete tablet every day…been doing so since menopause when I was advised to take it. I am now 66 ..and not game to go off it…

    • I took quinine for ages for leg cramps(bad enough to tear muscles) and restless legs, after that went off the market here the doc suggested magnesium and it did work really well for ages.After another discussion with the doc he suggested a product called Paroven which is supposed to improve the blood circulation (it sure does), to try and see if it helped with the cramps. It’s just an over the counter thing but it worked so well I don’t need anything any more. I had to stop taking it because when I had my regular blood tests it was very hard to stop the bleeding. That was a few years ago and so far there has been no further trouble with cramp or restless legs.

  2. I remember a DR saying that vitamin pills give you very expensive urine. I take vitamin D but when looking at the cost comparison was amazed the Swiss brand at the time was $50 compared to $15 for Blackmores I asked the pharmacist what was the difference he said no difference except the price.

    4 REPLY
  3. Thank goodness someone pointed this out! Your body is designed to absorb as much as possible from food, even if that food is not the best. Only on rare ocassions supplements are needed on temporary basis. That’s what we were told when
    I was a child. A bit of sunshine too, and plenty of water.

  4. I have taken a good quality multi vitamin and mineral supplement for the past 40yrs, I made the choice to do this I wasn’t brainwashed in any way, I will continue to do so in conjunction with a healthy diet.

    4 REPLY

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