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Multivitamin: A Well-Branded Word

The multibillion-dollar multivitamin industry has not earned their popularity among the public. Instead, they have bought it. They have skewed the perception of reality by way of careful marketing and strategic lying.

If we were to imagine ourselves in the shoes of the ones making decisions for major vitamin corporations, we might have to change our priorities. Shareholders need to be pleased, financial accounts need to be balanced, and everything needs to point towards progress. With this in mind, we may view the production and sale of multivitamins as a big beautiful loophole of opportunity. 

I believe that multivitamins are viewed as a loophole to the major corporations selling them because the perception of the public is completely dependent on marketing campaigns and product claims. Imagine how much power that gives them.

The most popular multivitamins have absolutely no research to support their use, no logic or common sense to rationalize their existence, and no truth to their marketing claims.

"If We Lie 'Say Legally Acceptable Things,' They Will Buy It"

Making carefully stated claims is legal and necessary to communicate the reason for taking a supplement. Major companies like Pfizer stretch the ethical limits of their claims. Take for example that natural vitamin e is used by the body as an antioxidant. 

These companies can and do say that their product containing vitamin e may support a healthy inflammation response. Its ingredients have been shown to aid in lowering pain and taking it daily may support smoother skin.

Those are some great FDA approved statements and there is plenty of research to back them up and that is fantastic! However, they are being deceitful. We must consider that they use a negligible dose of synthetic vitamin eSynthetic vitamin e promotes prostate cancer and is only used to lower production costs.They use a different form and dosage than what is necessary to support their claims. Misleading claims is a very big problem.

Like A Crafty Car Salesperson

Their unethical marketing strategy is like a car salesman describing a top end brand new Mercedes to you but when you buy it, it turns out to be a 20-year-old broken down Chevrolet Aveo.

This may be a stretch of the imagination but the analogy is not complete unless I add that no one knows anything about cars and everyone thinks your broken down car is fantastic and was well worth the money. No one knows that the mold on the ceiling of the car is harming your liver. No one even notices that the car doesn't start. In fact, every news website and professional reviewer gives your car a 10/10 and openly promotes it. 

Leaving that analogy behind, remember that someone who buys Centrum may receive positive reinforcement from their doctor and family. They might even feel as though they have taken a step towards better health: Why shouldn't they feel good? Almost everyone seems to agree that it is a good product. Unfortunately, no one can explain why. They could not even explain why their product is good when I called them and nor can their website.

Key Points

  • Based on research we can say that those claims are blatant lies and bring down the credibility of vitamin and herbal companies who are making genuine claims and selling high-quality products.
  • Based on their success we can determine that whatever they are claiming is bringing this industry many billions of unearned dollars. 
  • They apply that same misleading marketing strategy to almost every ingredient in their multivitamins. I hope this helps to explain the madness of multivitamins.

More Specifically...

If we look at the front of a Centrum bottle, we see some health claims and nice colorful squares with drawings in them.I don't know why but those pictures have to mean to me.

A Heart: Improves Blood Pressure

A Head + Brain: Improve Brain Function

An Eyes: Improves Eyesight

A Flexing Muscle: Improves strength and stamina.

Are those accurate interpretations? No, and it does not matter and that is the point. See, they can say just about anything they want as long as there is a study done on some vitamin they threw into their product.

The doses are so insultingly low that it is preposterous to suggest that any of their pills will make it out of the liver or digestive tract and all the way up to our flexing muscles or brain before dissolving into nothingness. In addition, most of the forms of ingredients used are so absurdly cheap that any potential benefits will be outweighed by the harmful effects.

In other words, a few beneficial compounds that are absorbed will be battling the other half of the tablet in the body. If they were honest with their little pictures, they would have two halves of a centrum pill fighting each other within the outline of a liver. 

Just How 'Cheap' Are They?

I speculate that each Centrum bottle costs Pfizer less than $0.10 to manufacture. 

Check out this $1.00 multivitamin by The Dollar Tree. It's so cheap that people are buying and reselling it on ebay for as low as $2.00. There's even a refurbished one for $3.99 (what a deal!).

The ingredients in that $1.00 product are actually slightly better than the ingredients in Centrum Women's and Centrum Silver.

Let us put aside synthetic vitamins and costs and take a look at ingredients that are internationally accepted as known toxins. Among other unnecessary compounds, the most popular multivitamins on the U.S. market contain heavy metals.

Heavy Metals: Prolific and Bad

The following products contain heavy metals:

And dozens of other popular store/name brand products.

The minerals that are put into these multivitamins cannot be created synthetically and are instead mined from the Earth. Consuming nutrients properly should look go like this:

  1. The Earth is packed with both healthful and dangerous minerals.
  2. Certain plants selectively absorb and transform minerals into forms that are ideal for animals. The plants also exclude harmful minerals.
  3. Humans consume plants and animals (who have eaten plants) and absorb the ideal form of minerals.

I believe getting minerals from the Earth is a good thing. My point is that the Earth does not purify minerals. Plants purify and optimize minerals. If we are going to take mined minerals as supplements, we need to be sure they are pure, properly obtained, and safe. We need to be sure they are not contaminated.

Are these corporations failing to ensure the purity of their products or are they just sprinkling heavy metals into their products for no good reason? Yes and yes.

Aluminum

The Earth's crust is abundant with aluminum, which is good news because aluminum is a very useful element for industrial purposes.

But does it belong in a health supplement? No.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) warns that when taken orally over a long period of time aluminum can cause serious diseases like kidney failure and Alzheimer's (Source) (Source) (Source). Aluminum can cause damage to a number of areas of the body including the nervous system and various areas of the brain (locus coeruleus, substantia nigra, and striatum) (Source). There are no health benefits to consuming aluminum and it has no place in a health supplement.

It finds its way into most cheap multivitamins in the form of dyes. Why do multivitamins need to be colored using dangerous compounds? I do not know.

Nickel

Nickel is found in a number of multivitamins and, according to the FDA, people can develop a sensitivity to nickel (Source). According to a research article made available by the National Institutes of Health, Nickel is far more harmful (Source).

They also inform us that Nickel (in the same form used in Centrum) can react with compounds in the body to cause a drastic drop in antioxidant levels. At the very least, this results in inflammation, rashes, digestive issues, a weakened immune system, and fatigue. In other cases, this can result in oxidative stress (Source). Oxidative Stress has been linked to chronic inflammation, auto-immune diseases, diabetes, cancer, Parkinson's, ALS, Alzheimer's, and depression (Source). 

Tin: Correct Me If I Am Wrong

Centrum fails to list "Tin" as an ingredient but puts it in the 'Supplement Facts' area. Unless I am mistaken, the only reason they would list it in the Supplement Facts would be because it must legally be listed somewhere on the label. It cannot be listed on the ingredients list because it is not an added ingredient. So, if it was not put into the product, how did it get there? 

I will comment briefly and subjectively and solely based on my experience working with supplements and ingredients lists that when there are tiny amounts of metals in the Supplement Facts section but no trace of them in the ingredients list, it means that the supplier was using contaminated materials. As stated before, all minerals in these supplements come from mining companies. When miners (or mining machines) chip off a piece of rock, it seems as though some tin came off that rock. 

They either put Tin into the product intentionally or they have a faulty purification process.

Ten Milligrams of Tin is Ten Too Many

Your body will have to deal with that Tin. Even if it does not cause a direct auto-immune or inflammatory response like other heavy metals, the body still must identify it and process it appropritately. Unfortunately, our bodies have no reason to need to know what to do with a daily intake of Tin in the form of a hard calcium/trans fat/talc tablet. So, what happens to it? There seems to be no available information on what happens to Tin when it is crammed into an unhealthful tablet and consumed daily. Let us look at a compound that is better understood.

Vanadium

This compound is listed in the ingredients of Centrum as Sodium Metavanadate (Source).

Here's the link to that page on PubChem.

PubChem informs us that this ingredient Pfizer puts into Centrum is an irritant, an environmental toxin, and is acutely toxic if swallowed.

Sodium Metavanadate is known to cause cancer in animals and research is showing that it may cause cancer in humans as well (Source). It may also cause kidney damage and irritate the urinary tract and it is well known as a compound that promotes the creation of free radicals (Source).

Sodium Metavanadate is transformed in the body into a compound that has been shown to:

  • Cause oxidative stress
  • Promote inflammation
  • Cause DNA Damage
  • Inhibit the repair of DNA
  • Break apart DNA strands

Honestly, this looks like the worst possible ingredient to add to a health supplement. Please check out the research and see for yourself

Selenium

I want to quickly point out that selenium is a necessary and healthy nutrient in humans. The form of selenium Pfizer chose to use into Centrum (sodium selenate) is a known insecticide, is not well understood, and is very toxic to humans (Source) (Source). 

Bottom Line: Toxins Are Not Healthful

These toxins have no place in a health supplement as they are harmful to your health. Consider that Centrum has antioxidants to reduce free radical levels in the body. Centrum also has toxins that increase free radical levels. So at its very best, Centrum does nothing.

There is absolutely no reason that aluminum, nickel, tin, or sodium metavanadate should be in the health supplement of a company that could afford to buy their own country much less a proper team of multivitamin designers. There is NO reason for those ingredients and they are being sold en masse. Billions of dollars every year are spent on pills containing those heavy metals. In a market that is ~$30 billion dollars, products containing heavy metals are the most popular ones because they are the cheapest and the most recommended by doctors and "experts." 

I suggest we do not listen to anyone on this topic. Do not even take my word for anything without looking at my sources and doing your own research. I encourage others to refute my arguments and share their own research.

 

This is article five in a series. Click to jump to the next article.

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