Is Viagra safe in men with high blood pressure?

On May 15, 2002, the results from an important study on the use of Viagra® in men with hypertension arrived in my email. It seems that the “magic pill” has been shown to be safe for use in men who are taking high blood pressure medication.

If you’re wondering why Viagra® would be a problem for men with hypertension – it’s because one of the effects of Viagra® is increased blood flow – specifically in the penis – which is one the causes of erection. However, if you are already having problems with blood pressure – such that your blood pressure is too high, then increasing the blood flow can be dangerous. Hypertension can result from any number of causes including family history, weight gain, diabetes, renal insufficiency, and atherosclerosis.

Back to the study. The results were announced at the annual scientific meeting of the American Society of Hypertension held in New York in 2002. In all, 562 men were involved in the study. They had had high blood pressure for an average of 12 years, and erectile dysfunction (ED) for an average of 4.5 years. They were taking 2 or more antihypertensive medications at the time of the study, and they included all the major types of medications for hypertension: diuretics, beta-blockers, alpha-blockers, angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (also known as ACE inhibitors), and calcium channel blockers (also known as CCB).

The study investigators reported no serious adverse events related to Viagra therapy. In fact the majority of side effects included short-lived, mild to moderate facial flushing, headache, indigestion, dizziness, nasal congestion, and abnormal vision. However, 2% of the men in the study chose to discontinue due to these side effects.

Of the men who continued in the study and took Viagra®, 71% reported having improved erections compared to only 18% of the men on placebo.

The 12-week blinded phase of the study was followed by a 6-week open-label “extension” phase (when patients and doctors are told who has been taking what, and can then decide whether or not to continue in the study on the study drug or placebo). During this phase, 80% of the men who took Viagra® reported having improved erections and intercourse.

Just in case you’re wondering, the effectiveness of Viagra® was assessed using patients’ responses to several standard assessments such as the International Index of Erectile Function, 2 global efficacy assessment questions, and the Erectile Dysfunction Inventory of Treatment Satisfaction.

Overall, this study is very encouraging. However it must be said that Viagra® is a prescription medication, and if you are taking other prescription medications, you should consult with your physician or cardiologist before taking Viagra®, particularly if you are recovering from a recent cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or myocardial infarction. And Viagra® remains contraindicated in patients who use nitrates in any form at any time.

If you would like to know more about ED, visit the sexual health channel at medbroadcast.com.

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VIAGRA BLUNTS EFFECTS OF STRESS ON THE HUMAN HEART

Johns Hopkins Medicine
Office of Corporate Communications
Media contact: David March
410-955-1534; dmarch1@jhmi.edu 
October 24, 2005

Sildenafil citrate (Viagra), a drug used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED) in millions of men, reduces the stimulatory effects of hormonal stress on the heart by half, according to results of a new study by researchers at Johns Hopkins.  

While sildenafil is more widely known for helping genital blood vessels expand to maintain an erection and, more recently, as a treatment for pulmonary hypertension, it has been thought to have little direct effect on the human heart.

In the heart, sildenafil blunts the strengthened heartbeat caused by chemically induced stress, thereby lessening the excess amount of blood and force used to pump it to the body, according to study senior author and cardiologist David Kass, M.D., a professor at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and its Heart Institute. 

“Sildenafil effectively puts a ‘brake’ on chemical stimulation of the heart,” says Kass. 

The researchers’ findings, which appear in the journal Circulation online Oct. 24, are believed to be the first confirmation in humans that sildenafil has a direct effect on the heart.  Previous research by Kass and his team showed that sildenafil had such effects in mice, blocking the short-term effects of hormonal stress in the heart.  Related studies by the group also showed that sildenafil prevents and reverses the long-term effects in the heart from chronic high blood pressure. 

Moreover, Kass adds, the latest Hopkins results confirm that sildenafil helps control heart function only when the heart is under duress, but has little impact under normal conditions.

Separate research from Kass and his team published earlier this year in the journal Nature Medicine showed that, in mice, sildenafil could reverse the negative effects on heart muscle weakened by heart failure and enlargement, a condition called hypertrophy.  “But we had no firm evidence as to whether or how this therapy might work in the human heart.  Our latest research provides firm evidence this drug does indeed have an important impact on the heart.”  

Thirty-five healthy men and women, with an average age of 30 and no previous signs of coronary artery disease, participated in the six-month study.  Within a three-hour timeframe, each participant received two separate injections of dobutamine (5 micrograms per kilogram for five minutes), a synthetic, adrenaline-like chemical that increases heart rate and pumping strength. 

Between injections, study participants were randomly assigned to a group that was treated with sildenafil (100 milligrams taken orally) or to a group given a sugar pill placebo.  All participants were then given the second dobutamine injection to see what effects sildenafil or placebo had on the heart.

Measurements of heart function were made before and after each injection.  This included blood pressure readings, electrocardiograms and echocardiograms, as well as blood samples to confirm relatively equal levels of sildenafil and other enzymes. 

Results showed that each dobutamine injection stimulated heart function, increasing heart rate and the force of each heartbeat used to pump blood throughout the body. 

“This stimulation is similar to the way the nervous system normally increases heart function when triggered by emotional or exercise stress, or in diseases such as heart failure,” adds Kass.

After the first injection of dobutamine, the force of heart contraction increased by 150 percent in both groups.  And in the placebo group, this increase repeated itself after the second injection.  However, in the group treated with sildenafil, the increased heartbeat was slowed by 50 percent, resulting in a smaller increase in blood flow and blood pressure generated by the heart in response to chemical stimulation.

Between injections, heart function was not altered in the sildenafil group, demonstrating the absence of adverse side effects on the resting human heart.

“Knowing more about the effects of sildenafil on heart function will allow for  safer evaluation of its use as a treatment for heart problems,” says Kass.  “Until now, it was widely thought that drugs like sildenafil had no effects on the human heart and that its only purpose was vasodilation in the penis and the lungs.

“Our results set the stage for further studies of sildenafil’s immediate and long-term effects on the heart and its ability to modify other neurohormonal and stress stimuli, including adrenaline and hypertension,” he adds.

While the precise biological actions of sildenafil in the heart are not fully understood, the drug is known to work by stopping the action of an enzyme, called phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5A), the researcher says.  This enzyme is involved in the breakdown of a key molecule, cyclic GMP, which helps control stresses and limit overgrowth in the heart.  PDE5A is also the biological pathway blocked in the penis by sildenafil to promote the relaxation of blood vessels and maintain erections. 

Funding for this study was provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Peter Belfer Laboratory Foundation and the Bernard Family Foundation.  The makers of the drug had no involvement in the design or support of the research.

The study, conducted solely at Hopkins, was led by cardiologist Barry Borlaug, M.D.  Other researchers involved in this study were Vojtech Melenovsky M.D., Ph.D.; Tricia Marhin, R.N., B.S.N.; and Patricia Fitzgerald, R.N., B.S.N.  Kass is also the Abraham and Virginia Weiss Professor of Cardiology at Hopkins.

Gender Bias Strikes Again

That ‘female Viagra’ isn’t yet on the market likely has little to do with concern for women’s health.

In this Sept. 27, 2013, file photo, a tablet of flibanserin sits on a brochure for Sprout Pharmaceuticals in the company's Raleigh, N.C., headquarters. Sprout Pharmaceuticals, the makers of the twice-rejected pill intended to boost libido in women, will make a third attempt this week at convincing regulators to approve the drug as the first prescription treatment for low sexual desire in women.

Getting her in the mood.

By June 5, 2015 | 12:40 p.m. EDT+ More

The gender gap is often discussed – and rightly so – in terms of pay equity, with women making an average of 78 cents to every dollar a man earns, and, in terms of promotions, with women comprising a tiny fraction of CEOs. But if you really want to get a clear picture of how women are regarded, look at the government’s attitude toward men’s sex pills versus women’s sex pills.

Men, of course, have access to Viagra and other pills containing the drug sildenafil, which addresses erectile dysfunction. Sophomoric jokes and tortuously cryptic TV commercials aside, a healthy sex life is part of a healthy life, and there’s no reason men should not have the medicines available to have one. The same ought to go for women. But women hoping to obtain drugs that enhance female sexual desire are having a much more difficult time of it.

[NEW: Big Pharma’s ‘Female Viagra’ Isn’t a Feminist Crusade]

In a breakthrough, an FDA advisory panel gave an initial go-ahead for the approval of flibanserin, a drug designed to improve sexual desire in otherwise healthy women. Final approval is not assured, and the drug has been rejected before, with admonitions that it can cause side effects of fainting, nausea, dizziness, sleepiness and low-blood pressure – things the FDA previously has said outweigh the benefits of the drug.

That sounds like the FDA is concerned about women’s health and safety. But it’s awfully suspect when one considers the history of sex pills that end up benefiting men, and the legions of side effects those pills can involve. In all cases below, I’ve taken out the bullet points to save space, but what follows is a sampling of these side effects.

There’s Viagra, the manufacturers of which warn could cause: “headache; flushing; upset stomach; abnormal vision, such as changes in color vision (such as having a blue color tinge) and blurred vision; stuffy or runny nose; back pain; muscle pain; nausea; dizziness; rash.”

If you look at the possible side effects of sildenafil, the list gets much longer. Here’s some things to worry about: “Bladder pain; burning feeling in the chest or stomach; burning, crawling, itching, numbness, prickling, ‘pins and needles’, or tingling feelings; cloudy or bloody urine; dizziness; increased frequency of urination; indigestion; pain on urination; stomach upset; tenderness in the stomach area.”

[SEE: Editorial Cartoons on Hillary Clinton]

More rare side effects can include:

Abnormal vision; anxiety; behavior change similar to drunkenness; bleeding of the eye; blurred vision; bone pain; breast enlargement; chest pain; chills; cold sweats; confusion; convulsions (seizures); cool and pale skin; deafness or hearing loss; decrease in amount of urine or the frequency of urination; decreased vision; difficulty in concentrating; dizziness or lightheadedness especially when getting up from a lying or sitting position suddenly; double vision; drowsiness; dry eyes; dry mouth; dryness; redness; scaling, or peeling of the skin; excessive hunger; eye pain; fainting or faintness; fast, irregular, or pounding heartbeat; feeling of something in the eye; fever or chills; headache (severe or continuing); increase in the size of the pupil; increased sweating; increased thirst; lower back or side pain; migraine headache; nausea (severe or continuing); nervousness; nightmares; numbness of the hands; painful, swollen joints; prolonged, painful erection of penis; redness, burning, or swelling of the eyes; redness, itching, or tearing of the eyes; restless sleep; seeing shades of colors differently than before; sensitivity to light; shakiness; skin lesions with swelling; skin paleness; skin rash; hives, or itching; skin ulcers; slurred speech; sore throat; sudden weakness; swelling of the face, hands, feet, or lower legs; trouble breathing; twitching of the muscles; unusual feeling of burning or stinging of the skin; unusual tiredness or weakness; vision changes; vision loss, temporary.

Does that sound like the FDA is driven largely by concern for protecting people, male and female, from uncomfortable or dangerous side effects? Or is it, perhaps, that the FDA is much more eager to approve a drug that enables men to have sex than a drug that women don’t need to have sex, but only need to desire or enjoy sex?

The argument that the FDA is concerned about women also falls apart when one looks at the development of the birth control pill. The pill has been tweaked since its launch in 1960, but the doses were much higher when it was introduced. So high was the desire to get the pill onto the market, it was disbursed to women despite being suspected of causing blood clots, strokes and possibly cancer. As early as 1962, the manufacturer of one pill, Enovid, received reports of 132 cases of blood clots, and 11 of those resulted in death. (The manufacturer, G. D. Searle and Company, denied its pill was the cause.) Even the pills being dispensed now are connected to such side effects as nausea, intermenstrual bleeding, breast tenderness, mood swings, weight gain, decreased libido and certain vision changes. Oh, and the increased possibility of breast, cervical and liver cancer (although the risk of endometrial and ovarian cancer appear to be reduced with pill use).

[READ: Is Third Time the Charm for ‘Female Viagra’?]

Yes, the pill greatly added to women’s sexual freedom, since they had a very reliable way of avoiding pregnancy. But it also was a big boost for men, who could ask (or presume) that women were on the pill, freeing them from the great tragedy of having to use a condom.

So what’s the lesson here? Is it that men have a right to have sex and women don’t? Or that women don’t have a right to want or enjoy sex? After all, a woman with low sexual desire can still have sex – willingly or not – with a man. But a man with erectile dysfunction is going to need a little blue pill to do the deed.

And if there’s any uncertainty about how the federal government views male and female sexuality, just take a look at the Affordable Care Act. Religion-associated employers are under no obligation to cover birth control pills under women’s health insurance (even if the women themselves are not associated with said church). And thanks to the Supreme Court, certain companies whose owners have a religious objection to birth control can exert the same control over their female employees. Men, however, still can have their Viagra covered. And no one’s checking to make sure that the men who get the prescription pill are using it to have intimate relations with their wives alone. There’s another gender-bias problem happening. And it’s in the form of a little pill.

FDA panel backs ‘female Viagra’ drug flibanserin but warns of side effects

jafrum.com sexual satisfaction
In this Friday, Sept. 27, 2013, file photo, a tablet of flibanserin sits on a brochure for Sprout Pharmaceuticals in the company’s Raleigh, N.C., headquarters. Government health experts on Thursday, June 4, 2015 backed the approval of the experimental drug intended to boost the female sex drive, but stress that it should carry safety restrictions to manage side effects including fatigue, low blood pressure and fainting. (AP Photo/Allen G. Breed, File)

Associated PressBy Associated Press 
on June 04, 2015 at 3:51 PM, updated June 04, 2015 at 3:55 PM

equivalent to Viagra took a major step forward Thursday, as government experts recommended approval for a pill to boost sexual desire in women.

The first-of-a-kind endorsement came with safety reservations, however, due to drug side effects including fatigue, low blood pressure and fainting.

The panel of Food and Drug Administration advisers voted 18-6 in favor of Sprout Pharmaceutical‘s daily pill, flibanserin, on the condition that the company develops a plan to manage its risks.

The recommendation is a major victory for a drug sometimes hailed as “female Viagra,” but which has been plagued for years by concerns of lackluster effectiveness and safety issues. The FDA has rejected the drug twice since 2010. And a similar panel of FDA experts voted unanimously against the drug five years ago.

Thursday’s vote is non-binding but the FDA often follows the advice of its experts. An official decision is expected in August.

FDA’s experts acknowledged that flibanserin‘s effect is not very strong, but said there is a need for FDA-approved drugs to address female sexual problems.

“These are very modest results,” said Dr. Julia Heiman of the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University. “But on the other hand, even modest results can make a lot of difference when you’re at a certain point in the clinical problem.”

In general, women taking flibanserin reported between 0.5 and 1 more sexually satisfying event per month, compared with women taking a placebo. They also scored higher on questionnaires measuring desire and scored lower on measures of stress.

Flibanserin, which acts on serotonin and other brain chemicals, was originally studied as an antidepressant, but then repurposed as a libido pill after women reported higher levels of sexual satisfaction.

The effort to trigger sexual interest through brain chemistry is the drug industry’s latest attempt to address women’s sexual problems.

Credit card fraud: 8 ways your details can be hijacked

jafrum.com - credit card fraud

Data: Credit card fraud isn’t always apparent to card holders, and banks don’t always share information about an incident.

Data: Credit card fraud isn’t always apparent to card holders, and banks don’t always share information about an incident. Photo: Karl Hilzinger

Unaware of credit card fraud until the statement arrives or the bank rings? Here are eight ways tech-savvy criminals can get your details from shops, ATMs and other systems.

Card issuers like Visa and MasterCard often know if merchants have suffered a breach before even the banks or the merchant itself, but they rarely reveal their names to the banks. Rather, in response to a breach, card issuers will send each affected bank a list of compromised card numbers often triggering their cancellation.

Banks may be able to work backwards from that list to the breached merchant, however, in cases where hacked merchants are known rarely is that information shared with their customers.

Here’s a look at some of the most common forms of credit card fraud:
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1. Hacked bricks-and-mortar merchant, restaurant:

Here criminals capture credit card details most often by remotely installing malicious software on point-of-sale systems – the software that controls a shop’s payments and inventory.

Distinguishing characteristic: Most common and costly source of card fraud. Losses are high because crooks can take information from multiple cards and produce counterfeit cards that can be used in big box stores to buy gift cards and/or expensive goods that can be easily resold for cash.

Chances of consumer learning source of fraud: Low, depending on customer card usage.

2. Processor breach:

This is a network compromise at a company that processes transactions between credit card issuing banks and merchant banks. One such breach occurred in 2012 and involved some 10 million card numbers.

Distinguishing characteristic: High volume of card accounts can be stolen in a very short time.

Chances of consumer learning source of fraud: Virtually nil. Processor breaches are rare compared to retail break-ins, but it’s also difficult for banks to trace back fraud on a card to a processor. Card issuers/banks generally don’t tell consumers when they do know.

3. Hacked point-of-sale service company/vendor:

This is a compromise at the supplier of the point-of-sale system, not the merchant.

Distinguishing characteristic: Can be time-consuming for banks and card issuers to determine vendor responsible. Fraud is generally localised to a specific town or geographic region served by vendor.

Chances of consumer learning source of fraud: Low, given that compromised point-of-sale service company or vendor does not have a direct relationship with the card holder or issuing bank.

4. Hacked e-commerce merchant:

A database or website compromise at an online merchant.

Distinguishing characteristic: Results in online fraud. Consumer likely to learn about fraud from monthly statement, incorrectly attribute fraud to merchant where unauthorised transaction occurred. Bank customer service representatives are trained not to give out information about the breached online merchant, or address information associated with the fraudulent order.

Chances of consumer learning source of fraud: Nil to low.

5. ATM or other skimmer:

Thieves attach physical fraud devices to ATMs, gas pumps and other card readers to steal card numbers and PINs. For more on skimmers, see All About Skimmers series.

Distinguishing characteristic: Fraud can take many months to figure out. Often tied to gang activity.

Chances of consumer learning source of fraud: High. Banks often disclose to cardholder the source of the fraud.

6. Crook employee:

A case often associated with small car hire outlets, motels and restaurants, it involves an employee using a hidden or handheld device to copy card for later counterfeiting.

Distinguishing characteristic: Most frequently committed by restaurant workers. Often tied to a local crime rings, or seasonal and transient workers.

Chances of consumer learning source of fraud: Nil to low.

7. Lost or stolen card:

Distinguishing characteristic: The smallest source of fraud on cards. Consumer generally knows immediately or is alerted by bank to suspicious transactions, which often involve small fraudulent test transactions to see if the card is still active – such as at automated gas station pumps in the US.

Chances of consumer learning source of fraud: High.

8. Record theft:

Merchant, government agency or some other entity charged with storing and protecting card data improperly disposes of card account records.

Distinguishing characteristic: Usually not high-volume. A form of fraud less common than it used to be.

Chances of consumer learning source of fraud: Nil to low.

It’s clear from the above that most consumers are unlikely to discover the true source or reason for any card fraud. It’s far more important for cardholders to keep a close eye on their statements for unauthorised charges, and to report that activity as quickly as possible.

How Tim Cook Passed the Test With Flying Colors

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A year ago, I worried aloud what kind of leader Apple’s Tim Cook might be. Still emerging from the death of Steve Jobs, there was a great deal of concern whether he could pick up the mantle of “pied piper,” who offered the vision.

When I talked about last year’s product launches, I said:

The question remains — and this is something that I’ve discussed before — can Tim Cook help champion transformative products at Apple, or is he merely the executor of Steve Jobs’ corporate last will and testament? After three years on the job, the products released by Apple still appear to have the imprimatur of Steve Jobs on them. There are no “Tim Cook” products from Apple yet.
What a difference a year makes.
After last week’s product launches of the iPhone 6 family, the introduction of the Apple Watch, and the roll out of Apple Pay, it’s safe to say that Tim Cook may even surpass the height that Steve Jobs brought back to Apple when he returned from his exile in the wilderness.

Various Apple product launches have had the flirtatious coyness of a bull charging though a china shop and Apple executives have been called to task when their presentations were merely interesting. The big win for Apple is not the latest iPhones or the watch, but Apply Pay, which will fund Apple’s technological desire to dominate for decades to come.

In the end, products come and go. A friend of mine still has the original Apple Macintosh he bought in 1985 as a college graduation gift, only two years after it was launched to eager eyes. Today it’s found in his backyard, repurposed as a birdhouse, perhaps the most expensive birdhouse in Northern California.

Apple Pay will pay dividends for decades.

Apple Pay makes it easier and safer to use your iPhone to make face to face purchases. If you walk into a Starbucks, with a wave of your phone you can walk away with your latte. Merchants love it because it increases the speed at the point of sale and allows baristas to handle more orders and generate more income.

Card members and bankcard issuers also like it because instead of using 1960’s technology to fight 21st century cyber crime, Apple replaces the magstripe on the back of your card with Apple’s Touch ID biometric technology, which authenticates the shopper at the point of sale. The merchant has a NFC (Near Field Communication) reader which captures the data coming from your iPhone. The transaction is completed away from the prying eyes of a lot of bad guys.

That’s not to say that some Russian teenager will figure out how to infiltrate the security apparatus that Apple and a number of other companies have created. The most dangerous place for credit card fraud — until the various data breaches that started with Target — has been at the point of sale. What Apple Pay does is that it reduces the window of vulnerability for Cardmembers, Merchants and Acquirers (the bank whose name is on your bankcard) so that everybody can use 21st century security to fight 21st century fraud.

Why is Apple able to succeed while others have missed the mark?
For the past decade, American banks and merchants have been dragging their feet on EMV conversion, where a “chip and pin” approach replaces the good ol’ magstripe with a chip and PIN approach, something that is old hat in Europe. It took the earth-shattering data breaches that began with Target and exploded outward to include Home Depot to get the attention of “foot draggers” everywhere.

Various other companies like Google have tried to launch their wallets and after a noisy start, they have stumbled and laid off people.

Apple has succeeded because the brand inspires unquestionable trust in those who are loyal for the past three decades. Apple Pay was not launched in a vacuum, but stood on the shoulder of other game-changing product demonstrations as far back as the original Macintosh launch in 1984. There have been a few missteps, but they were during the non-Jobs years.

However, Tim Cook brings something new to the table that even Jobs himself lacked. As you read through the Walter Isaacson biography on Steve Jobs, one cannot help but come away with the realization in the later chapters, that Tim Cook cleaned up more than his share of tantrums that emanated from Steve Jobs.

But Steve Jobs could serve as his own worst enemy. He painted himself into a corner and that diminished the game changing nature of many of his products. The original Macintosh was underpowered and extremely overpriced. At NeXT, factory walls were repainted as Jobs capriciously felt they fell a shade short. His monumental rages unhinged those around him and his inability to “play with others” probably cost him his job during his first tour at Apple.

With Tim Cook, Apple has discovered that a wiser temperament at the top produces better products for your customers. And that is how you build a company that can inspire for generations. He made Apple his own.

And that is how Tim Cook passed the test.

Multivitamins – Benefits, Side Effects & The Best Multivitamin Brand

It’s hard to think of a supplement on the market these days that is as simple and straight forward as the basic multivitamin.

That’s probably a big reason why multivitamins are one of, if not THE most popular supplements there are among men and women of every age (even seniors, kids and pregnant women).

The problem with this apparent simplicity is that it often leads to people either just taking them or ignoring them without ever really considering why.

I mean, with other supplements, people are obsessed with learning if they truly should take them, what their benefits and side effects are, and figuring out what brand is best for them.

jafrum.com - vitamins

But with multivitamins, it seems like those types of questions are skipped over in favor of either just taking them (because “they’re good for you”) or not taking them (because “they’re pointless”). It all just seems too obvious to give it more thought than that.

Now, while most of it really is just as obvious as it seems in this case (you’ll see), there are still certain factors that should always be considered.

Let’s cover all of them right now…

What Is A Multivitamin?

You know all of those essential vitamins and minerals that we are supposed to be supplying our bodies with on a daily basis through our diet?

Well, a multivitamin supplies most of them in the form of a super convenient supplement.

What Does It Do? What Are The Benefits Of Multivitamins?

For the handful of people that can’t possibly guess what the benefits of multivitamins are, this is for you.

The human body requires various vitamins and minerals on a daily basis to keep youalive, healthy and functioning at your best.

Each of those vitamins/minerals have their own benefits and play their own roles in your body. Since a multivitamin provides them, its benefits are that of pretty much every vitamin and mineral it contains.

Pretty obvious, right?

Of course, the true benefit of a multivitamin is the format itself.

Like I said before, we were meant to get all of these important nutrients each day from our regular daily diet. Problem is, the typical “regular daily diet” these days often fails to do that.

With a multivitamin, you just take a single tablet (or more depending on your brand) and you instantly get a daily serving (or close to it) of the vitamins and minerals your diet might be lacking. It doesn’t get any more convenient than that.

And that’s pretty much where the list of multivitamin benefits end.

However, since the dietary supplement industry is a deceitful world filled with lies and false claims, it’s possible that you’ve heard multivitamins provide other benefits beyond what I just described.

You know, like how they will magically help you lose fat, build muscle, increase strength, improve performance or anything similar.

Um, no.

That’s all bullshit marketing crap used to get you to overpay for a product that won’t provide any additional benefits beyond what any other multivitamin on the planet would.

Now sure, the vitamins and minerals contained in a multivitamin ARE playing a role in fat loss, muscle growth and all of those other fitness related goals.

In fact, they are playing a role in literally every other thing your body is doing to keep you alive and healthy.

However, they still won’t directly help you achieve those types of goals no matter what the supplement company claims. Only a proper diet and workout are capable of doing that.

A multivitamin is just one of the many useful indirect parts of the overall process.

Does It Really Work?

Yes, in terms of providing various essential vitamins and minerals in a very convenient form… it definitely works.

In terms of doing any of the other magical things I explained a second ago that certain multivitamin brands sometimes like to claim… then no. That’s all bullshit.

Is It Safe? Are There Any Side Effects?

Assuming you’re taking a brand that provides ideal amounts of the various vitamins and minerals it contains (and not overly huge megadoses), and it contains the right vitamins/minerals for your specific needs (more on that later), then it’s definitely safe. There are no research proven side effects when used in this manner.

I mean… hello… it’s a multivitamin. It contains the vitamins and minerals the human body is MEANT to consume each day for optimal health and function.

Obviously, the usual common sense warning always applies as well: If you are taking any medications or have any known health or medical issues, or are pregnant or nursing, it would be a good idea to check with your doctor first just to be sure (and always use your doctor’s recommendations over mine or anyone else’s).

But if you are just a typical healthy adult using it properly, a daily multivitamin is probably one the safest supplements there is.

When and How Should It Be Taken?

Multivitamins should always be taken with a meal to allow for maximum absorption.

If taking more than 1 tablet per day (for some multivitamin brands, one “serving” is 2 or more tablets), you should take each tablet at a different time of the day. You know, like 1 in the morning and 1 at night.

Do I Truly Need To Take A Multivitamin?

Here’s how I usually answer this question…

  • If your diet is NOT as good as it should be: Yeah, probably. (Of course, what you should really be doing is improving your overall diet itself, because a multivitamin alone won’t magically fix it.)
  • If your diet actually IS really good: No, you most likely don’t need to take one. But could you still benefit from taking one anyway? Maybe.

After fish oil, multivitamins are probably the next most often recommended “must have” type supplement that pretty much everyone could be taking whether they workout, eat right or care much about improving their body in the first place.

I’m sure you can understand why someone with a poorer overall daily diet would benefit from taking a multivitamin, but you might be confused as to why someone whose diet actually is pretty good might take one.

Well, the thinking is that it will serve as your diet’s backup plan. Like your own little nutritional insurance policy guaranteeing that your body gets everything it needs on a daily basis, even when you didn’t quite eat as well as you should have or typically do.

You know the saying “it’s better to be safe than sorry?” Well, that’s a pretty accurate way of explaining why multivitamins are often taken. It basically serves to prevent the possibilityof any potential nutrient deficiencies.

In my case (and the case of most of the experts whose opinions I highly respect), that would be my primary reason for taking one.

I don’t mean to brag, but my diet is pretty damn good. It’s extremely high in foods loaded with nutritional value, and extremely low in useless processed crap.

However, I still often take a daily multivitamin (just half a serving, actually) for the added peace of mind of knowing that my body is getting sufficient amounts of every important vitamin and mineral it needs for optimal health and function, while still staying far below anything close to those toxically high megadose levels I mentioned before.

So, if your diet isn’t as good as it should be and you’re deficient in certain vitamins/minerals, a multivitamin should definitely be considered (along with just fixing what’s wrong with your diet). But if your diet IS as good as it should be, the “need” for taking one is likely eliminated, but the potential to still serve a beneficial purpose anyway may still exist.

Which Brand Is The Best?

As for the best multivitamin brand, this is usually where most of the confusion lies.

There are hundreds of different multivitamins on the market, all containing different amounts of certain vitamins and minerals (often in different forms, too), and all claiming to be the best of them all.

Some are made specifically for men, some are made just for women, and some are for people over the age of 50. Others are for people who live an active lifestyle, or need more energy, or have specific health benefits in mind (heart health, colon health, etc.).

The list goes on and on, and each multivitamin is designed differently to be the best for that exact purpose.

So, how do you figure out which multivitamin truly is the best for you?

Well, there’s 5 main factors to consider:

  1. The amounts of vitamins and minerals. Does it provide too much, too little, or an ideal amount of the various vitamins and minerals it contains? If it contains too much of something, it’s a big waste that will literally end up going down the toilet (and could also potentially be dangerous if it’s well above what it should be). And if it contains too little of something, then you’re just not getting your money’s worth.
  2. The type of vitamins and minerals. For example, every multivitamin might contain calcium, but in what form? Calcium citrate or calcium carbonate? Is the vitamin A from beta carotene, retinyl acetate or retinyl palmitate? I could ask dozens of these questions, and each multivitamin would have a different answer.
  3. The quality. As in, does the multivitamin ACTUALLY contain the claimed amounts of what it should and none of what it shouldn’t? Only independent lab testing can tell you that, and I’ve actually seen some results. In general, most pass just fine (even the generic store brands), but a few popular brands failed for containing significantly more or less of certain nutrients than they were supposed to.
  4. Your specific needs. The human body has slightly different vitamin and mineral requirements based on certain factors like your gender, age, diet and lifestyle, and your multivitamin should suit those needs. One of the best examples of this is iron. Younger women (who are premenopausal) almost always want a multivitamin that contains iron. On the other hand, men of any age and older women (who are postmenopausal) typically want one that contains absolutely no iron whatsoever. This is just one of many examples.
  5. The price. Like I mentioned earlier, there are a ton of multivitamins out there that claim to have all sorts of special benefits that others just don’t have (again, it’s all bullshit). However, doing this allows them to drive up the price. Do you want to overpay for those false claims? I don’t. At the same time, I also don’t want to underpay for quality, so while avoiding the highest priced stuff is probably the right idea, going with the absolute cheapest stuff you can find might not be.

My Recommendations For The Best Multivitamins

Now, to be perfectly honest, I’ve found that there really is no absolutely perfectmultivitamin on the market that gets all 5 of these factors just right.

Trust me, I’ve looked… and I continue to look often. I have yet to come across anything that I can legitimately call the best multivitamin.

What it basically comes down to then is just picking the one that gets the most stuff right and the least stuff wrong.

So, rather than give a single recommendation like I’ve done with other supplements, I’m going to instead give a list of multivitamin brands that I feel best fit the above description.

In no specific order, they are:

  • New Chapter
  • Rainbow Light
  • Nature Made
  • The generic store brands from Costco, Target and GNC (I hate GNC as a supplement store, but I like their multis).
  • Centrum Silver (only for men & women over the age of 50)

If I can ever narrow this list down to single “best” choice, or if I ever find another brand of multivitamins that I truly consider better than any of these, I will definitely update this recommendation to show it.

But as of right now, these are the brands that I’d be most likely to use or recommend.

What’s Next?

With all of your multivitamin questions answered, it’s time to move on to the next supplement that might be beneficial to you and your specific goal… creatine.

Creatine Supplements – Side Effects, Best Product & How/When To Take It

(This article is part of a completely free and amazingly awesome guide to creating the absolute best diet plan possible for your exact goal and preferences. Check out the entire guide here: The Best Diet Plan)