The Truth About the Benefits of Vitamins

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Filed Under: Heart Health, General Health, Nutrients and Additives
Last Reviewed 03/27/2014

The Truth About the Benefits of Vitamins

There’s no question that this has been the season for controversy, on a wide variety of topics from the national debt to the best way to protect children in our schools. In the land of health care, there’s more in the hot seat than our health-care system itself—including a brewing controversy on whether or not we need our vitamins, and more specifically, whether you actually get vitamin benefits.

This topic is so hot that it was the focus of a half-day conference at the annual meeting of the American College of Nutrition. I was on hand to present my take on another hot potato: the great cholesterol myth, but I stayed an extra day to attend the full symposium on the benefits of vitamins.

What makes the issue so confusing is that the research on the benefits of vitamins is conflicting—and it’s often the negative studies that garner press attention. For example, you may remember the study that suggested vitamin E could cause prostate cancer—which isn’t true. The truth is, to get the benefits of vitamin E, you need to take this supplement in the correct formulation, a fact that was lost behind the headlines. Meanwhile, other studies have shown that men who take multivitamins decrease their cancer risk by 8 Percent, a huge vitamin benefit. 

Those who take the con position on vitamins often claim that they do little more than promote expensive urine (well, maybe the water-soluble kind)—but that’s not what I found in more than three decades of practicing medicine. 

Benefits of Vitamins Include Heart Health

The reason I began formulating supplements is because they’re some of the best weapons we have to treat cardiac conditions like angina, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure and cardiac arrhythmias. In fact, I’ve seen the lab work for thousands of people documenting their nutrient deficiencies.  As those deficiencies were corrected—with vitamins—I’ve personally watched their health status improve, dramatically.

The research on the positive  benefits of the right vitamins speaks for itself:

  • If you’re on pharmaceutical drugs, you must take vitamins. That’s because most, if not all, pharmaceutical drugs deplete essential vitamins and minerals that need to be replaced. 

  • Some health conditions, like congestive heart failure, are due to suboptimal levels of vitamins and minerals, such as coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and magnesium

  • Taking folate reduces birth defects in women of childbearing age.

  • Low levels of vitamin B12 can contribute to Alzheimer’s disease and prostate cancer.

  • Vitamin D3, which up to 85 percent of us are deficient in, is essential for heart and bone health, and protecting against cancer and diabetes. 

  • Vitamin C helps to prevent coronary artery disease, strengthens the blood vessel walls and improves vasodilation. 

So, what should you take to enjoy the benefits of vitamins? I recommend taking a high-quality multivitamin and mineral supplement. For optimal heart health, I also recommend what I call the “Awesome Foursome,” which is a combination of CoQ10, 50-150 mg daily; magnesium, 400-800 mg daily; broad-spectrum carnitine 1-2 g daily in divided doses, and D-ribose 5 g twice daily. 

Then, you can add the targeted nutrients your body needs, whether it’s extra calcium to keep your bones healthy or pycnogenol and bentofiamine to support healthy blood sugar.

Now it’s your turn: Which vitamins do you take?

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