|Image 1: The common believe that you could not satisfy your micro-nutrient requirements without the use of a daily multi-vitamin flushes >8 billion US$ into the coffers of the industry.|
Before we get to the details, I want you to to go and take a look at the bottle of the multivitamin (or multiple vitamin products) in your supplement stash... ok, look at the label - what does it say? I suppose somewhere on the top you will find both Vitamin A and vitamin C listed, maybe even with the adjunct "antioxidants". If you bought one of the higher quality products it will probably also say "from..." followed by the specific type of vitamin A or C used in your product - usually this is hardly legible, so you better have your magnifying glass at hand ;-) If you bought your supplement in Europe, you could find one of the following ingredients there:
|Figure 1: Compounds permitted in supplements by the European Parliament’s directives 2002/46/EC (EU. 2002)|
|Image 2: Partly apoptotic HL-60 cells |
under the microscope (img.
|Figure 2: Cytotoxicity [in % of non-viable cells] of vitamin A compounds on the viability of HL-60 cells after 24-h exposure at a concentration of 20µM; each bar represents the average of a minimum of four independent experiments; * p<0.001 (data adapted from Bergström. 2011).|
|Figure 3: Cytotoxicity [in % of non-viable cells] of vitamin C compounds on the viability of HL-60 cells after 24-h exposure at a concentration of 500µM (for AA6P solubility was so low that a lower dose had to be used); each bar represents the average of a minimum of four independent experiments; ** p<0.01, * p<0.05 (data adapted from Bergström. 2011).|
*Note: In view of the ability of your body to clear "superfluous" vitamin C from the blood and regulate serum vitamin C levels so, that they will constantly remain in the < 200µM range, it is very unlikely that oral supplementation with whatever form of vitamin C will be actually suffice to induce cytotoxic damage to your cells (thx. to majkinetor for the heads up). On the other hand, this does also mean that you are unlikely to achieve those exorbitant levels which have been associated with the often touted active (not preventive) anti-cancer effects of vitamin C. Keeping an eye on your daily intake to maintain adequate levels is thus probably a very good idea, The use of high dose supplements (>500-1,000mg) for the average human being (including athletes) however is probably unnecessary.
My multi has one of the "toxic" vitamins in it! I will throw it away, right?
|Table 1: Overview of the tested compounds and their potentially deleterious side-effects in the petri dish (Bergström. 2011)|
- first, evaluate how much of each of the vitamins you are already getting from your diet - chances are this is much more than you have been made to believe (at least if you stick to a whole foods diet)
- second, select those supplements you really need and do not apply the "more helps more principle", the opposite is usually the case