Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Trader Joe's High Potency Multiple Vitamin & Mineral Sustained Release Dietary Supplement

I take one multivitamin a day, and have for many years. Frankly, I doubt that it makes any difference in my long-term health. But I decided long ago that it was at least more likely to help than to harm, and it only costs a penny or two a day. So I do it. I usually buy either the Target or Wal-Mart store brand, depending on which store I next visit after noticing that my current bottle is running low.

A couple of months ago, I departed from that practice, and bought this stuff from Trader Joe's, just so that I could present you, my beloved readers, with a little interesting variety in the products reviewed here. At my TJ's, the non-food items take up about half of one side of an aisle--a small fraction of the store's shelf space.

After taking these for several weeks, I don't feel any different, and, frankly, if I did, I'd attribute it to just about anything other than the supplements. It's simply not plausible that the difference between one multivitamin and another--or even the difference between taking one and not taking one at all--will change one's subjective perception of well-being, except via a placebo effect.

The tablets do look different from the white or beige ones I usually use:

They're slightly smaller, though I haven't been able to tell that that makes any difference in ease of swallowing. They definitely have a much stronger odor, probably because of the far heftier dose of vitamin B they contain.

Speaking of doses, these things certainly merit the designation "high potency." Compare the ingredients with those of the Target formulation I was using before (TJ's on the left):

Notice that the amounts specified are for two of the TJ's, so mentally cut those numbers in half for a pill-to-pill comparison. When you do, you see that they are still more potent on almost every parameter. (I ignore the label's advice to take two a day, and stick with one.)

It has often been observed that Americans' obsession with vitamin supplements does little for our health, but gives us the most expensive urine in the world. Most of the amounts beyond what the body can absorb just get dumped overboard, so to speak. It's hard for me to see the point of adding further micronutrients to my local water-treatment facility. If prices were equal, I wouldn't care. But TJ's cost more than twice as much per tablet as the el-cheapos I usually get. If you'll excuse the overly literal metaphor, that seems like flushing money down the toilet.

Will I buy it again? 

No. There's nothing wrong with the product, but there's also nothing about it that makes it worth spending extra on. I just don't think there's any advantage to taking, e.g., 750% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin B6 instead of 150%, and paying more for the privilege of doing so.

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