Could your multivitamin be killing you? 

If you shoved your multivitamins into a dark corner after the recent scare headlines — yep, one actually said “Your Multi­vitamin May Be Killing You” — go dig ’em out. The research that sparked them is a great reason to get smarter about what you take (and eat). But it does not mean you should give all your vitamins the heave-ho.

We’re talking about the new 19-year study of 38,000 Iowa women — the one that found a 6 to 45 percent higher death risk among those who took supplements. Impressive, right? It makes vitamins sound like “the menace in your medicine cabinet.” But we YOU Docs haven’t stopped taking ours. Here’s why.

For starters, this is the kind of study that’s a first step. It’s a population study, meaning it looks for patterns that need to be investigated further. It sounds warning bells but doesn’t know if they’re false alarms. Also, it relies on people remembering what they ate and took — in this case, not over days or weeks, over seven to nine years.

And there are lots of unanswered questions. Just three: Did they need to take supplements, especially iron? What formulations did they take? Also, the women reportedly ate twice as many fruits and vegetables as the average American.

Here’s another reason we’re still supplement fans: The study didn’t monitor some proven benefits. Like the reduced risk for bone fractures if you take calcium. Or the healthier heart, brain and eyes you get from taking DHA omega-3 fatty acids.

So here’s our what-to-take advice.

  • A multivitamin without copper. If you’re a guy or a post-menopausal woman — without iron.
  • Vitamin D. We recommend 1,000 IU a day, 1,200 after 60. Make sure it’s D-3, the most active form.
  • Calcium and magnesium. Get 600 mg of calcium daily from a supplement; get another 600 from food.
  • Add our favorite “extras.” Take 200 to 900 mg of the DHA form of omega-3s, the potent fatty acid that protects against memory loss, heart attacks, stroke, impotence, even wrinkles. Get some lutein, too; 20 mg a day guards your vision.
  • Finally: Eat good food! Lots of fruits, veggies, beans and 100 percent whole grains.

The YOU Docs — Mehmet Oz, host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen of Cleveland Clinic — are the authors of “YOU: Losing Weight.” For more information go to

Multivitamin ins and outs

What you don’t want

  • Copper
  • Iron (men or postmenopausal women)
  • No megadoses of anything
  • No junk food, eat well


What you want

  • Vitamin D
  • Calcium & Magnesium
  • DHA Omega 3
  • Lutein
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