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Recent Studies on Multivitamins and Minerals

Multivitamin & Mineral supplementation may lead to improved mental health Psychopharmacology, 'Effects of high-dose B vitamin complex with vitamin C and minerals on subjective mood and performance in healthy males', Kennedy DO et al, 2010.

Rationale: A significant proportion of the general population report supplementing their diet with one or more vitamins or minerals, with common reasons for doing so being to combat stress and fatigue and to improve mental functioning. Few studies have assessed the relationship between supplementation with vitamins/minerals and psychological functioning in healthy cohorts of non-elderly adults.

Objectives: The present randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind, parallel groups trial assessed the cognitive and mood effects of a high-dose B-complex vitamin and mineral supplement in 215 males aged 30 to 55 years, who were in full-time employment.

Methods: Participants attended the laboratory prior to and on the last day of a 33-day treatment period where they completed the Profile of Mood States (POMS), Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) and General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12). Cognitive performance and task-related modulation of mood/fatigue were assessed with the 60 min cognitive demand battery. On the final day, participants also completed the Stroop task for 40 min whilst engaged in inclined treadmill walking and subsequent executive function was assessed.

Results: Vitamin/mineral supplementation led to significant improvements in ratings on the PSS, GHQ-12 and the 'vigour' subscale of the POMS. The vitamin/mineral group also performed better on the Serial 3s subtractions task and rated themselves as less 'mentally tired' both pre- and post-completion of the cognitive demand battery.

Conclusions: Healthy members of the general population may benefit from augmented levels of vitamins/minerals via direct dietary supplementation. Specifically, supplementation led to improved ratings of stress, mental health and vigour and improved cognitive performance during intense mental processing.

Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 'The effects of a multivitamin/mineral supplement on micronutrient status, antioxidant capacity and cytokine production in healthy older adults consuming a fortified diet', McKay DL et al, 2000.

Background:Inadequate micronutrient intake among older adults is common despite the increased prevalence of fortified/enriched foods in the American diet. Although many older adults take multivitamin supplements in an effort to compensate, studies examining the benefits of this behaviour are absent.

Objective:To determine whether a daily multivitamin/mineral supplement can improve micronutrient status, plasma antioxidant capacity and cytokine production in healthy, free-living older adults already consuming a fortified diet.

Methods:An eight-week double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial among 80 adults aged 50 to 87 years (mean = 66.5 +/- 8.6 years).

Results:Multivitamin treatment significantly increased (compared to placebo) plasma concentrations of vitamins D, E, pyridoxal phosphate, folate, B12, C and improved the riboflavin activity coefficient, but not vitamins A and thiamin.

The multivitamin reduced the prevalence of suboptimal plasma levels of vitamins E, B12 and C. Neither glutathione peroxidase activity nor antioxidant capacity (ORAC) were affected. No changes were observed in interleukin-2, -6 or -10 and prostaglandin E2, proxy measures of immune responses.

Conclusions: Supplementation with a multivitamin formulated at about 100% Daily Value can decrease the prevalence of suboptimal vitamin status in older adults and improve their micronutrient status to levels associated with reduced risk for several chronic diseases.

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) States:

Nutrition experts at the Harvard School of Public Health have created an online version of a food pyramid with a notation recommending a "daily multivitamin plus extra vitamin D (for most people)."

Recognizing the special nutritional needs of senior citizens, researchers at Tufts University designed a food guide pyramid for the elderly, which features a flag at the top as a reminder that supplements of calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B-12 may be needed for optimal health. The American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) has a policy statement emphasizing the importance of good food choices but also recognizing that supplements can help some people meet their nutritional needs.

Supplement use should be seen as one component of the search for a healthier lifestyle, including improvements in overall food habits and engaging in physical exercise.

A generous intake of calcium plus vitamin D demonstrably helps build optimum bone mass during childhood and adolescence and also slows the rate of bone loss that naturally occurs with ageing.

Nutritional supplements are helpful in addressing a woman's increased nutrient needs during pregnancy. Prenatal multivitamins with minerals are commonly prescribed to ensure that both the baby's and the mother's needs are met. In addition to meeting normal nutritional needs during pregnancy, a multivitamin can also play a critical role in protecting against some birth defects. An abundance of data shows that women who get 400 mcg of supplemental folic acid per day for one to three months prior to conception and one to three months after conception can substantially lower the risk of having a baby with a neural tube defect such as spina bifida.

While adequate nutrient intake is critical for all age groups, it may have particular significance for the elderly. Calcium and vitamin D supplements, as previously noted, can have a powerful impact on bone health, and the Surgeon General says it is never too late to benefit from improved intakes of these nutrients. Vitamin D may also reduce the incidence of falls in older people. Vitamin and mineral supplements have been shown in some studies to improve immune function in the elderly.

Low zinc intakes are associated with an increased risk of infections, including pneumonia. Supplemental intakes of vitamin E have had a positive effect in decreasing upper respiratory infections in some studies. For these reasons, it makes sense to encourage the elderly to use multivitamin and mineral supplements.

The bottom line is that a healthy lifestyle must include a focus on dietary improvement. Generous intakes of the essential nutrients will support the normal functioning of the body and enhance health in a myriad of ways. The rational use of nutritional supplements, combined with a healthy diet, will contribute substantially to health promotion and disease prevention.

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