Multivitamins and Immune Health – Why?
At this point in time, everyone is very concerned (or should be) about their immune system health. The usual admonishments about eating right, exercising right and getting enough sleep are dependent on each person’s habits and knowledge to know what is right for them.
One question about the “eating right” part is whether or not to take a multivitamin/mineral (MVM) dietary supplement. Short answer: yes!
Rather than hiding behind results from published scientific articles, with the usual diametrically opposed, pro and con conclusions, let’s look at why.
I see two major factors to consider:
1) Nobody always eats right.
2) The human body is hugely complicated and is designed to function with whatever it gets, whatever the cost.
Nobody Eats Right
It’s easy to say and prove that nobody eats right all the time, but considering just the essential micronutrients like vitamins, minerals and fatty acids (MVMs), there is excellent science to support that nobody always gets enough (defined as intake – what you actually take in).
Over 97% of us do not get enough potassium, Vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids (EPA, DPA, DHA) to support normal health.
Look no further than the United States National Health and Examination Survey (NHANES) data for the past forty years (https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes/index.htm). Since the data is free for use, many scientists have explored the data and found that regardless of which “daily value” guideline one choses to follow, over 97% of us do not get enough potassium, Vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids (EPA, DPA, DHA) to support normal health. That information alone suffices to put all of us at risk for something wicked to happen sooner or later unless you ensure these nutrients are made sufficient in intake.
And there are about 10 other micronutrients that 50% or more of us are not reaching a healthy intake. Because of the nature of essentiality, if you do not get enough, you cannot keep normal health. Strike One.
Worse is the explosion of knowledge on genetic and epigenetic influences on nutrient functions. Pretty much all of us have multiple DNA glitches that decrease how we utilize each and every micronutrient. This information is becoming readily available, and is being used to “guide” dietary and supplemental MVM changes, but has not been embraced by those who tell us what to do based solely on intakes.
Bottom line – even if you do eat right, your own self is short-circuiting your pathway to perfect health. Strike Two.
You Have Control Over Nutritional Risk Factors
I’ll stop here with the doom and gloom so we can have a happy ending to this story.
Strike One – intake is a modifiable risk factor. You can simply ingest more MVMs by adjusting your diet (not as easy as it sounds and few can maintain the rigor to get sufficient intake of all MVMs without excess calories).
Strike Two is an unmodifiable risk factor – you cannot (yet) change your DNA sequences in every cell, and that has implications for epigenetics too. Fortunately, any such genetic glitches are not immediately fatal, so there is room for improvement. [Note: we are not discussing relatively rare Inborn (Congenital) Errors of Metabolism that are an extreme example of genetic glitches. An example is phenylketonuria, or PKU. We are concerned here with polymorphisms (variations), some mutations, and epigenetics.] Again, the answer to remedy these lesser genetic variations is to consume more of the affected nutrient. Again, the best way to do this is to use a daily MVM like MultiV.
Since most pathways in your body that use nutrients are concentration-dependent, more intake = more concentration = more function. Easiest way to increase concentration is to take a MVM supplement.
Obviously, all bodily systems, organs, tissues, cells and organelles depend on a lively supply of MVMs. Your immune system is no exception. Your immune system is extraordinarily complicated, always changing, creating and destroying immune cells every second, and requires prodigious percentages of your caloric and MVM intakes.
Intense exercise puts a further demand on nutritional needs of the immune system, which is another good reason for you to use a daily MVM
While our bodies are attuned to preventing problems from day-to-day variability in MVM supply from becoming a serious drag on immune health, sooner or later something will not function as desired. And it is well known that intense exercise puts a further demand on nutritional needs of the immune system, which is another good reason for you to use a daily MVM. The idea is to provide your body with enough intake of MVMs that you can rule out MVM deficiencies as a potential for problems. One less thing to worry about.
In conclusion, this blog is a 50,000 foot overview of why everyone needs a well-designed, balanced MVM supplement to maintain a healthy immune system. Nutritionally speaking, too much of a good thing can be as detrimental as not enough of a good thing, although it is more difficult to get too much of a good thing than to not get enough. Balance, meaning no single nutrient is under or over its effective supply and function, when considered all together, is another reason for using a MVM. Good enough is good enough.
Normally I like overkill for referencing statements, but there is such a large body of information and misinformation on this broad topic, it would be overkill for understanding the concept of why a MVM is needed to have a reference list longer than the text (by far). This blog is intended to plant a concept seed in everyone’s minds – thus, it is better to rely on many years of life study honed under the harsh glare of academic, scientific, regulatory and legal scrutiny to deduce and explain the big picture. Future blogs on specific topics will be precise and referenced.