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Why a Multi-Vitamin isn't for Everyone
    Bryce Wylde, BSc, DHMHS, Homeopath
  • on Jan 14, 2016 |
A line of thinking goes that if a little dose does a little good, then a big one will do even more. For vitamins and other supplements, this isn’t usually the case. In fact, taking more than necessary can actually do harm. Although, it begs the question, how does a person know what the right dosage is?
In the U.S., the recommended amount of each vitamin and mineral is established and regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Here in Canada, Health Canada oversees regulations of vitamins and minerals under the Natural Health Product Regulations. Recommended Daily intake (RDI), Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA), and Daily Reference Values (DRV) are used concurrently to describe nutrient recommendations. The RDA is the amount of a nutrient needed to meet the daily basic needs of healthy people. The DRV is present on food labels, while healthcare professionals primarily use the RDA.
Ideal dosage ranges can be confusing for the consumer, and even for manufacturers. Research claiming a vitamin or antioxidant causes X or does Y at a certain amount does not consider individual needs. This is why I recommend individuals get tested for vitamin and antioxidant levels. Everyone is unique.
To add to the confusion, the newest standard for nutrient requirements is the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI). DRI recommendations are made up of three components: the estimated average requirements (EAR), a level nutritionists say should meet the needs of 50 percent of the people in a defined age (i.e. those 50+) and gender group; the RDA or, where no RDA has been established, the adequate intake (AI); and the upper limit (UL), meaning the highest level that experts consider safe. 
Even among research and nutrition professionals, there's considerable debate about optimal levels and safe upper limits. Part of the problem is that researchers don't yet understand completely how certain substances work in the body at "upper limits". 
While a discussion surrounds precise dosing levels, it is still good practice to supplement our calorie rich, and nutrient poor North American diets with vitamins and minerals. The following should be considered before taking supplements:
  • All ingredients should be in the most natural and bioavailable form.
  • Non-medicinal ingredients, should be in the most natural and non-chemical form.
  • Dose should be designed towards the highest level of compliance.
  • Testing yourself is the only accurate way to determine your personal needs.
In my clinic, I often find low levels of vitamin-D, omega3, B12 and iron deficiencies in young females, 50+, as well as vegetarians with a balanced diet. And that’s what’s important to know; individual needs are different. This is why I’m not a fan of multivitamins; it’s the opposite of proper individualization. I rarely recommend specific dosages without testing. A person’s test results will dictate what they need to take and how much is required. In the end, it is the responsibility of the individual to seek a personalized approach to their health. The comforting news is that it is easier than ever to make these decisions to benefit our wellbeing and longevity.