Once-upon-a-time, when a patient said they were taking a vitamin, most doctors would simply shrug their shoulders and say, “well, I guess its OK, it couldn’t hurt.” There was little research to judge the affect of vitamin supplements, so there was no reason to take a stand. That is no longer true.
Now we have published data on many vitamins and we can say that for most people they do not work. More importantly, there is increasing research that says manufactured, chemically synthesized nutriment compounds in a pill, can be deadly.
For this reason, I am likely to ask my patients if they are taking a vitamin and, if so, which fabricated additive and how much. Therefore, I asked Bill, while he was in the office receiving chemotherapy for Hodgkin’s disease, what alternative therapies he was using.
When he informed me that he swallowed a multivitamin (MVI), large doses of Vitamins C and E, as well as a B complex preparation, I advised him to stop.
To my astonishment he responded, “Well, you only want me to do that because you make a lot of money on chemotherapy, and vitamins might put you out of business.”
Bill’s response, he lack of trust in my advice, disturbs me at several levels. He fails to understand and does not wish to learn the present state of science regarding nutrition. In addition, there is a major problem regarding his perception of my motivations and therefore the veracity of my guidance.
Let us be clear; in the absence of malnutrition, malabsorption and a few uncommon medical conditions, there is absolutely no reason to take a multivitamin. They do not prevent or fix anything. Originally developed for starving populations and hungry soldiers during the Second World War, they have no place in a society with access to a broad range of foods.
More importantly, there is increasing data that people taking a multivitamin may become less healthy.