Are multivitamin supplements effective?

Public demand is high, but doctors question the value of cocktails. Beware of harmful excesses to health and drug interactions.

In France, at least 13 vitamins and 15 minerals (magnesium, calcium, etc.) are allowed. food supplements. Together with other substances, such as beta-carotene-producing plant extracts, they make up a wide range of products sold in pharmacies, drugstores, stores and online: they are multi-nutrient supplements. The demand is very high: the latest national individual food consumption survey (Inca 3), carried out in 2014-2015, revealed that between 2007 and 2015, the French

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Their promises are enticing: to regain beautiful skin, to fight fatigue, to tone up, and today it is very important to strengthen the immune system. In this regard, the Covid pandemic has raised concerns about this particular issue. The language of manufacturers is polished: “Vitamins and minerals are necessary for the proper functioning of our body, to stay healthy, we must never lack them or even supplement them ourselves. And the solution is vitamin complexes.”
The reality is much more nuanced.

“Nowadays, says Laurent Chevallier, nutritionist at Montpellier University Hospital, it has not been possible to prove that taking extra vitamins or minerals can have health benefits. Some epidemiological studies simply show correlations between pathologies and the amount of certain vitamins in the body. For example, populations with good vitamin D status would have fewer cancers, but this does not prove that supplements prevent cancer.

Abuse is common. We have seen cases of hypervitaminosis, excess vitamin C, such as renal colic, or excess vitamin D causing nephrocalcinosis, calcium deposits in the kidneys…

Laurent Chevallier, nutritionist at Montpellier University Hospital

Regular use of vitamin complexes supplementing your diet, if it is balanced, is no longer relevant. single, vitamin D and iron is usually problematic. Then the doctor will be able to prescribe it for you, but will not offer a multivitamin complex that is full of unnecessary elements.

However, it happens that blood tests of people in good health show vitamin and mineral deficiencies, the level of which is lower than the established standards, and we cannot talk about real deficiencies. However, nothing proves that it is necessary to fill them, and even more so with a multi-planar tablet. According to Dr. Chevallier, shakes cause more problems than they solve: “Abuse is common. We have seen cases of hypervitaminosis, excess vitamin C, for example, causing renal colic, or excess vitamin D, causing nephrocalcinosis, the formation of calcium deposits in the kidneys… the effect of these trace elements on the body, as well as the use of solvents and other additives to produce them. Therefore, it is difficult to predict their long-term effects. Finally, many interactions between vitamins and certain drugs have been identified, altering their activity.

Beta Carotene: Distrust

Beta-carotene is a pigment from the carotenoid family, found naturally in many foods, especially vegetables (carrots, spinach, pumpkin, etc.) and fruits (apricots, mangoes, melons, etc.). It is found in various food supplements designed for “prepare the skin for tanning” where “Prevention of the Effects of Aging”. However, several reports by French and international scientific experts have found a link between the consumption of high doses of dietary supplements containing beta-carotene and the risk of cancer. Lung cancer risk has been demonstrated at high doses (more than 20 mg per day) in smokers, ex-smokers and people who have been exposed to asbestos.

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