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Jessica Evans

Commented [Ma1]:

Professor M alcolm Campbell

UWRT 1103
30 M arch 2015
Multivitamins: Dependable or Duds?
It is estimated that almost half of Americans are facing vitamin deficiencies including
vitamin A, C and magnesium. Vitamin A deficiencies throughout the world have caused 259 to
500 million children to become blind and nearly half of them die within a year of being affected.
But can popping a pill full of vitamin A really stop these children from becoming blind, or can
taking a pill containing vitamin B12 really help women increase their fertility and reduce the rate
of spontaneous abortions? The debate over multivitamins has increased over the years and expert
nutritionists are constantly coming up with conflicting results. A number of experts say taking
multivitamins can help bridge the gaps in insufficient diets, while others are shamefully shaking
their heads at the multivitamin industry and saying they will just leave you with larger gaps in
your wallet. Some experts are even beginning to think that these supplements can be detrimental
to your health. This M ultivitamins edition is going to take you on an inside look on the truth
about multivitamins.
Before we get into the he-said-she-said of all this debate, you need to have a little bit of a
background on multivitamins. A multivitamin is a dietary supplement taken to treat vitamin
deficiencies. While they are most commonly in the form of a pill or tablet, they can also come in
liquids or powders. Typically these vitamins are obtained through food or other natural sources
(i.e. the sun), but multivitamins were created to allow those with diets lacking these vitamins to

Commented [Ma2]: Good introduction, adding sources

would make it great. One thing I noticed is that 259-500
million is quite a large range, perhaps reeling that one in
a little with more concrete a figure would help. One thing
I would change however is the last sentence, as it gives
the reader a magazine feel that just seems, out of place
when compared with the rest of the introduction. I cant
help but feel it should be something more subtle, less
directly addressed to the reader. Other than that great


still be able to achieve the same benefits without actually having to eat the food. There are also
times in which your body is in need of vitamins more than others, including childhood and
pregnancy. Some benefits of common vitamins are as follows:

Vitamin A is used to lower prostate cancer risk.

Vitamin B1 and Biotin help keep hair and nail growth fast and healthy.

Vitamin B12 helps keep women fertile and reduces the risk of miscarriage.

Vitamin C boosts your immune system when you feel sick and to lower the risk of

Commented [Ma3]: I feel that this list is a bit much and

could be done in paragraph form, perhaps omitting a few
of these vitamins as well.

some cancers.

Vitamin D used to strengthen bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

Vitamin E is used to prevent Alzheimers disease.

Folic Acid helps prevent birth defects when taken early on in pregnancy.

The real question at hand here is can you get these same benefits from taking a pill as you can
from getting these vitamins through food?
S IDEBAR: S ome common terms to keep in mind
1. RDA: Recommended Daily Allowance is the amount of the vitamin needed to ingest
daily to stay healthy and receive the benefits of that vitamin. Typically they can differ
between males, females and different ages.
2. AI: Adequate Intake is another name for the RDA
3. UL: Tolerable Upper Intake Level is the maximum amount of that vitamin that you can
healthfully take without overdosing or causing bodily harm. Different vitamins have
different levels of seriousness when overdosing.
4. DV: Daily Value is the measurement you find on dietary supplement labels. It gives the
intake percentage of your RDA in that dose, typically using a 2,000 calorie-a-day diet.

Commented [Ma4]: I feel as though all of these could be

explained in text, rather than having their own section.
The extensive acronym use is also tough to follow as it
makes the reader continually cross reference the terms



Its been a common misconception that taking an excess of a vitamin can be extra helpful
and shouldnt cause any harm because its a vitamin, right? Wrong. In fact some vitamins can
cause serious harm when taken in large doses. Its important to look for the UL of the vitamin
you are going to be taking. Typically it is safe to take more than the RDA or DV, but you never
want to exceed the UL in which that is the amount of the vitamin taken to cause an overdose.
Each supplement is different which is important to keep in mind when taking them. In vitamin
B6, you can take up to 50 times the RDA and still not reach the UL, but in other supplements the
UL doesnt stray too far from the RDA. Fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, E and K can
cause toxicity from excess build up left in the body. Its also important to keep in mind that these
ULs are not only for supplements, they are for food sources as well though it is much easier and
more common to overdose on a vitamin through supplements. ULs are not typically listed on the
supplement itself and some may not have one as most of these supplements are not regulated by
the government, so do your research before you start popping them down. Its not likely you will
reach the UL, but its better to be safe. Included is a chart with a few ULs as reference.


Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) or

Adequate Intake (AI)

or Mineral


(Vitamin B

Nutrients with AIs are marked with an (*)

Age 1-3: 700 mg/day
Age 4-8: 1,000 mg/day
Age 9-18: 1,300 mg/day
Age 19-50: 1,000 mg/day
Women age 51+: 1,200
Men age 71+: 1,200 mg/day
Age 19-50: 2,300 mg/day
Age 50-70: 2,000 mg/day
Age 70 and older: 1,800
Age 70 and older: 1,800
Women: 425 mg/day *
Men: 4 mg/day *

Upper Tolerable Limit (UL)

The highest amount you can take
without risk
Age19-50: 2,500
Age 51 and
up:2,000 mg/day

3,600 mg/day

3,500 mg/day

10 mg/day

Commented [Ma5]: As stated before, its a lot of

acronyms. It makes the paper harder to follow. Also, why
arent toxic measures of these vitamins on the labels?
Seems like that could be dangerous.


Folic Acid (Folate)



Vitamin A
Vitamin B6

Vitamin C
Vitamin D

Vitamin E

Women: 3 mg/day *
400 micrograms/day

150 micrograms/day
Men: 8 mg/day
Women age 19-50: 18
Women age 51 and up: 8
45 micrograms/day
700 mg/day
55 micrograms/day
Age 19-50: 1,500 mg/day
Age 51-70: 1,300 mg/day
Age 71 and up: 1,200
Not determined
Men: 3,000 IU/day
Women: 2,310 IU/day
Men age 19-50: 1.3 mg/day
Men age 51 up:1.7 mg/day
Women age 19-50: 1.3
Women age 51 up: 1.5
Men: 90 mg/day
Women: 75 mg/day
Age 1-70: 15
micrograms/day (600 IU, or
international units) *
Age 70 and older: 20
micrograms/day (800 IU) *
22.4 IU/day

1,000 micrograms/day

This applies only to synthetic folic

acid in supplements or fortified
foods. There is no upper limit for
folic acid from natural sources.
1,100 micrograms/day
45 mg/day

2,000 micrograms/day
Up to age 70: 4,000 mg/day Over
age 70: 3,000 mg/day
400 micrograms/day
2,300 mg/day

1.8 mg/day
10,000 IU/day
100 mg/day

2,000 mg/day
100 micrograms/day (4,000 IU)

1,500 IU/day

This applies only to vitamin E in
supplements or fortified foods.
There is no upper limit for vitamin E
from natural sources.
40 mg/day

Men: 11 mg/day
Women: 8 mg/day
SOURCE: Derrer, David T. "Vitamins and Minerals: How Much Do You Need?" WebMD. WebMD, 8 Dec. 2014. Web. 22 Mar.




Of course Americans dont have the best reputation of having such great diets, this
explains why millions of Americans arent reaching the recommended daily intake of vitamins.
While the FDA is making efforts to add these vitamins into cereals and breads, multivitamins
posed as a much more viable options. According to Regan Bailey, study author of the National
Institutes of Health, taking supplements added nutrients (for example, magnesium,
phosphorous, and vitamins A, C, and E) for which intakes would have been inadequate from
food alone, found in a study of people ages 9 to 18. This shows that multivitamins may in fact
help avoid insufficient vitamin intake. In January of this year, a study of multivitamins appeared
in the Journal of Nutrition stating that women taking multivitamins for at least three years had
decreased risks of heart disease caused death. However, the same cannot be said about men. So
while there may be minute evidence that a multivitamin may help a specific case here and there,
the evidence isnt completely there to support that they are worth dishing out the extra cash.


In this interview is the expert opinion of the vice president of Scientific & Regulatory Affairs for
the council for Responsible Nutrition, Duffy M acKay, ND. She gave her input on the use of
Q. We're reading in the news that multivitamins are unnecessary; in fact, they may even
cause harm.
A. M ultivitamins are generally safe. In fact, the Physicians' Health Study II of 14,000
participants who took multivitamins showed no adverse events associated with taking them. The
U.S. Preventive Services Task Force shows overwhelming evidence of their safety.


What you are hearing about in the newsbut what is not made completely clearis older data
about supplemental high doses of beta-carotene and its adverse effect on smokers and asbestos
workers. But it's important to note that this is limited only to these two groups.
Q. S o, can a multivitamin help prevent things like heart disease and cancer?
A. The evidence that everyone should take a multivitamin to reduce the risk of cancer and heart
disease is limited. But some studies do show a modest reduction in cancer among individuals
who take multivitamins. It's a tough thing to measurethat group studied may be a group that is
more likely to practice healthy behaviors in the first place. The evidence that multivitamins
protect against age-related cognitive decline is limited. In conclusion, if you're taking a
multivitamin to prevent serious disease, you will be disappointed.
Q. Under what circumstances should people take a multivitamin?
A. The number one reason is to fill in the nutrient gaps in our diet. We know that most
Americans are deficient in vitamin B, potassium, calcium and fiber. Additionally, a small
percentage of people over 50 will have a tough time absorbing enough vitamin B-12 and may be
deficient. And pregnant women will need supplemental folic acid and iron in many cases.
Remember, a multivitamin is not a magic bullet. Neither is it a weight-loss pill. It just fills your
nutrient gaps, as the typical diet for most men and women doesn't supply enough of certain
vitamins (most commonly, vitamin D).
Q. How do people know if they are deficient in certain vitamins and minerals?
A. Once you start asking people what they eat and don't eat, the list expands rapidly. For
example, vegetarians are generally low in vitamin B and iron. If someone is lactose intolerant,
where's their calcium coming from? They likely will need a calcium supplement.
Only .05 percent of the population eats "right" and has close to a perfect diet. They may not need


a multivitamin but for all others, I'd recommend it.

Remember, it's best to discuss your diet with your health care provider to access where the
nutritional gaps exist.
The cost of using a multivitamin is relatively small, ranging from between $20 and $30 per year
for brand-name products. If you purchase the large economy-sized containers, it can run as little
as $10 annually.
Q. How can you know what brand to buy?
A. Nationally recognized brands or store brands from a trusted retailer will help ensure a
product's safety. These companies have a lot at stake and, as a result, invest a lot of time, effort
and resources to ensure their products live up to their reputation.
In other words, she believes that multivitamins can do their part in helping to support an
insufficient diet, but they are not magical substances that can prevent serious disease.
M ultivitamins can be helpful in the case of vegetarians or those who are lactose intolerant due to
the lack of nutrients their bodies are receiving.
NOTE: this interview was not conducted by myself and was not first seen in this article nor do I
claim this interview to be my own.


While there may be some evidence that multivitamins are worth taking, most experts are
saying not to waste your money. In a study dealing with memory with 6,000 random male
doctors over 65, they were each assigned to take either a Centrum Silver multivitamin each day
or a placebo. After12 years and 84 percent promising they took their pills every day as
instructed, there was no difference in the two groups relating to memory problems. In a larger
study done for U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, 27 difference vitamin and mineral

Commented [Ma6]: Make sure to add some whitespace

between the end of the Q&A to make it easier to tell when
her response ends. Otherwise, I think you would perhaps
be better served abbreviating the Q&A section to
evidence supporting the fact that multivitamins are not
dangerous save for few specific cases. Just my opinion.
However, I do feel that the addition of the Q&A was
unique and also interesting, but could be shortened.


supplements were tested on over 450,000 people. This study found no relation to taking
multivitamins and a benefit for heart disease or prolonged life; it only found a minute assistance
in cancer risk. In fact, the only benefit I found in any study done was related to cancer risk and in
each scenario it was minimal. So while in a certain case somewhere for a specific group of
people, maybe taking a multivitamin would help, but still isnt worth the investment for most
people. The best way to get the benefits from these vitamins is through food sources. Dr. Orly
Avitzur, medical adviser for Consumer Reports, advises, It's a Band-Aid approach to think you
can eat poorly and just take a vitamin and you'll be equal to another person who eats well and
exercises and takes care of their health and gets regular checkups, There's no substitute for a
healthy lifestyle." Even with the little evidence multivitamins have on their side, they are still no
excuse to give up a healthy diet. American Dietetic Association spokesperson says you can get
so much more out of eating vegetables than just the vitamin C that multivitamins bring to the
table. She says, its because of the colors, its the words you cant pronounce, referring to
lycopene, quercetin or indoles that provide the real benefits from eating vegetables that you cant
get from multivitamins. Though the evidence is increasing and both sides will continue to debate
to this day, the safest bet is to stick with a healthy diet and to avoid relying on multivitamins as
much as possible.

Commented [Ma7]: I think you did a good job! You

were very thorough with your topic, and found research
to back up all your points. While I feel some things about
it could be shifted around as noted, I think its a solid EIP.
Plus, youre taking some risks and Malcolm likes that.


Works Cited
Aubrey, Allison. "M ultivitamins: The Case For Taking One A Day." NPR. NPR, 30 Jan. 2015.
Web. 21 M ar. 2015.
Derrer, David T. "Vitamins and M inerals: How M uch Do You Need?" WebMD. WebM D, 8 Dec.
2014. Web. 22 M ar. 2015.
Goodman, Brenda. "Experts: Don't Waste Your M oney on M ultivitamins." HealthDay Consumer
News Service 16 Dec. 2013: Points of View Reference Center. Web. 21 M ar. 2015.
Kraft, Sheryl. "The Scoop on Taking M ultivitamins." Healthy Women. National Women's Health
Resource Center, Inc, 14 Jan. 2014. Web. 28 M ar. 2015.
"Listing of Vitamins." Harvard Health. Harvard University, 9 June 2009. Web. 21 M ar. 2015.
"M ultivitamins." U.S National Library of M edicine. U.S. National Library of M edicine, 1 Sept.
2010. Web. 22 M ar. 2015.
Park, M adison. "Half of Americans Use Supplements." CNN. Cable News Network, 13 Apr.
2011. Web. 22 M ar. 2015.
"Top Ten Interesting Facts about Vitamin Deficiency." Medianet. M edianet Copyright, n.d. Web.
21 M ar. 2015.