Multi-vitamin safety has been a contentious issue lately with some recent studies indicating that taking a daily multi-vitamin pill may cause an individual more harm than good. Dr. Oz addresses the issue of multi-vitamin safety with three reasons why your multi-vitamins may not be safe for you.
The first reason Dr. Oz gives about why your multi-vitamin may not be safe for you is that some vitamin pills provide what he calls ‘pharmaceutical’ doses that are much higher than what you could possibly get from eating food during a meal. To achieve the same dose in food as in a vitamin pill you would have to eat the equivalent of a bushel of produce.
“Why would I give my body such a high dose of any vitamin that I could not possibly have gotten in Nature? My argument would be that if I am doing that, then I am taking a pharmaceutical dose of the vitamin,” says Dr. Oz.
Dr. Oz points out that people need to read the labels on their multi-vitamin bottles to see what they are actually consuming. “One of the biggest mistakes we make is that we think that just because it says ‘multi-vitamin’ that they are all created equal. And the real challenge for us to figure out is—do we need them, and which ones of those specific vitamins should be in each one. My concerns are what is supposed to be in the multi-vitamin. So the first thing I want to talk about is overdoses of the vitamins A and E.”
Dr. Oz explains that what otherwise should provide protective antioxidant effects, in realty turns out to be “pro-oxidant” effects that damages blood vessels when Vitamin A levels are too high. “I’m changing my recommendations for Vitamin A,” states Dr. Oz. “I used to recommend 5000 units.” However, Dr. Oz tells his viewers to look at the label on their bottle of multi-vitamins and choose the one that says “3500 IU (injection units)” for Vitamin A. “That 3500 number should be your goal,” advises Dr. Oz.
Another antioxidant, Vitamin E, may be a problem too for some men. Taking too much Vitamin E may increase the risk of a man developing prostate cancer by as much as seventeen percent, warns Dr. Oz as he mentions the results of one recent study. “Vitamin E, that’s the one that we thought that in high doses might be increasing prostate cancer rates. I’ve always recommended low doses of Vitamin E. So, I’m going to stay the same there, I’m not going to change—it’s 30 units per dose,” says Dr. Oz.
Iron is a second reason why your multi-vitamin may not be safe for you. “Taking iron when you don’t need it is actually bad for you,” says Dr. Oz. “You should not have iron if you are post-menopausal or if you are a guy.” He explains that too much iron can cause damage to your arteries and that if you are not excluded from taking iron, that the dose in your vitamin pill should be only 18 milligrams—that’s for women of childbearing age and nobody else recommends Dr. Oz. Hardening of the arteries caused by excess iron is the reason why you do not want iron in your multi-vitamin pill if you do not meet health criteria for needing supplemental iron.
Calcium is Dr. Oz’s second reason why your multi-vitamin may not be safe for you. “Calcium is a problem,” says Dr. Oz, “because calcium binds to the other vitamins and prevents them from getting absorbed. Your multi-vitamin should have no more than 200 milligrams in it.”
He also adds that if you take a calcium supplement along with a multi-vitamin that you should take the calcium supplement at least two hours before or after taking a multi-vitamin pill. The calcium supplement can be up to 600 milligrams, but be sure it also contains 400 milligrams of magnesium, otherwise the calcium can cause constipation.
In summary, Dr. Oz’s recommendations for multi-vitamin safety is to read your multi-vitamin labels and see what you are getting and how much; limit your doses of Vitamin A to 3500 IU’s and 30 IU’s for Vitamin E.; if you postmenopausal or a man, do not take supplemental iron; and, when taking large doses of supplemental calcium remember that it may bind-up other vitamins, and insure that the calcium contains magnesium to prevent constipation.