Centrum is a popular multi vitamin supplement that is heavily advertised in New Zealand. I’m sure you remember that it is the multi vitamin that Dame Susan Duvoy, New Zealand’s World Champion Squash Player use to promote.
So as you know, I have had a health shop for over 12 years now and what first made me look at Centrum was that I was getting so many people coming into the shop, really stressed out, really not feeling as well as they possibly could, looking exhausted and wanting some advice. As a Naturopath I would always go over their present medical history, supplements that they are taking, as well as any Pharmacuticals. When I asked about the health supplements they were taking, I had some people tell me that they were taking Centrum®, so their nutritional needs must be covered – because they are taking this Multi-Vitamin.
So after hearing this time and time again it made me really look into what is really in Centrum? Are these people really being provided with the nutrition that they need?
So I went and I got myself some Centrum. There are 3 separate types of Centrum products. One for people under 50 years of age, One for people over 50 years of age, and one for Children as well.
I decided to log onto Centrums website and read a little more about this Centrum multi vitamin supplement. To be honest I really got hacked off reading all of Centrums Marketing information, as well as having a look at the marketing information that Centrum had stated on the back of the products. The reason why is because it says specifically that “Centrum has been developed to give your body the right nutrients, at the right levels, so that your body can put Centrum to work, in the way that is best for you”.
I thought, What does this actually mean? What is this actually telling us? Because it really doesn’t mean a heck of a lot to me. So what are the right levels? And what is this product actually for? The right levels for what? Now when I looked into this further, I found that Wyeth, the makers of Centrum, based the information (to determine the amount of nutrients they put into Centrum,) on a RDI for New Zealanders and Australian’s.
So what is an RDI?
First of all, I must say, that this is a new term for me because I had always heard of RDA (Recommended Daily allowance). This however is a new measurement called RDI or Recommended Dietary Intake. I quote, “This reference range comes under a wider reference range of Nutrient Reference Values or “NRV’s”. NRV’s outline the levels of intake of essential nutrients considered to be adequate to meet the known nutritional needs of practically all healthy people for prevention of deficiency states”.
So the RDI or (Recommended Dietary Intake) is derived from the EAR (Estimated Average Requirement) for each nutrient. Values are set for the EAR for people in different age or gender groups, as well as for pregnancy and lactation. Given the variation and absorption of metabolism of nutrients, even with an age and gender group, a second figure called an RDI was derived from the EAR, which would cover the needs of nearly all people in that group. Hmm…..
Now the problem with the RDI of most nutrients is that they are very small. Remember as the information above stated “they have been set to offer healthy people with a guideline they can use, to know how many nutrients they need for the prevention of deficiency states”
This means that this is not necessarily covering our daily nutritional needs. It is just to prevent deficiencies in our body.
I know myself, that I want to do a lot more than just prevent deficiencies in my body when I’m taking a Multivitamin. I want to take enough nutrients to top up any deficient levels, of any sort, in my body. Believe me, in New Zealand we have a number of nutritional deficiencies in our soils, such as Zinc, Selenium and Boron, so nutritional supplements really do need to take these into consideration. What about for those people who drink, smoke, take medication, &/or don’t eat 3 good meals a day. Will taking a multi like Centrum be adequate for them?
We want to take a health supplement that’s going to not only give us a boost but also have extra anti-oxidants in it, to help to fight free-radical damage.
So enough about these RDA’s, RDI’s or NRV’s.
Centrum make another statement that I would like to bring to your attention. They make a comment about “Who is Centrum For?” and they make this statement “Centrum is suitable for men and women, aged under 50 years, who lead busy active lifestyles” Now again I have an issue about this because I really think that this statement is incorrect. My basis for this is on the amount of nutrients contained in one Centrum tablet. As I have just talked about how Centrum base the nutrient levels of their multi on an “RDI”. An RDI gives you nutrient levels to meet the needs of practically all healthy people, for the prevention of deficiency states. So if you’ve got a busy active lifestyle surely you are going to need a lot more nutrients than to just prevent a deficiency!
I know myself, if I want to handle my busy active lifestyle, I struggle to get by with anything less then 25mgs of B Vitamins every single day. At the moment I’m taking something that provides me with a time release 125mgs. So lets do a comparison and have a look at Centrum.
The main Centrum product that they suggest for people under 50 lists on the back in the ingredients section that Each 1 Centrum tablet contains these following nutrients. Now looking through them, I don’t know what 1.7mgs of a B vitamin is really going to do for anyone? I know for me personally, that there is no way that this would aid me, to boost my energy levels up. As I mentioned before, we have Zinc, Selenium and Boron deficient in our soils in New Zealand but no where on the Centrum packet can I see any mention of Boron. Boron is important for absorbing other minerals, such as calcium, so why isn’t it contained in this product when it’s supposed to be complete from A – Zinc?
Sure it does have zinc and selenium in it but really they are not in very high amounts. As well as this the forms of nutrients that they have used are ok but are definitely not as absorbable as they could be. Centrum in short, could have chosen nutrients that were a lot more absorbable.
Now if I look at the Centrum packet for those aged 50 and over there is not a lot of difference between this and the one for 50 and under yet it’s supposed to help to meet the needs of those people over the age of 50. Some of the B Vitamins are slightly higher but not by a lot, for example there are 2.6mgs instead of the measly 1.7mg in the under 50 year old pack. I really don’t see what 2.6mgs of a B vitamin is really going to do?
If I look at the Children’s multi vitamin, again there are only very small amounts of nutrients for something like this.
As a comparison If I compare Xcel Health’s MultiVite it has taken into consideration New Zealand’s soil depletion here in New Zealand and each of these tablets has 25mgs of the main B Vitamins. It also includes Boron, 50mcg of Selenium and 10mgs of Zinc. As New Zealander’s we all need to consider supplementing with these missing nutrients.
For your Children, I recommend they take what I consider to be the best multivitamin available. Clinicians Vitamin and Mineral Boost powder – produced here in Auckland. This nutrient powder will help to provide your children with really good amounts of the necessary nutrients needed to help to boost immunity and provide daily nutritional needs. This product has also taken into consideration New Zealand’s soil depletion, which is very important of course for our children. Mums raves to me about the difference in their children’s immune systems while they are taking this product.
Centrum is a registered trademark of Pfizer New Zealand.
Please note that this blog post was written on May the 12th 2009, and the information was relevant as of this date. Formulations are always being updated, so please check the label.