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Multivitamin effectiveness?

Faith Elizabeth Winifred (Rusted) Bayley lecture to discuss topic

By Kelly Foss

Are multivitamins effective? Are we consuming too many and can they cause harm?

Those are a few of the questions that will be answered at a free public lecture on the St. John’s campus.

Too much of a good thing?

Dr. Deborah O’Connor, a professor with the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto and a senior associate scientist with The Hospital for Sick Children, will deliver the third annual Faith Elizabeth Winifred (Rusted) Bayley Nutrition Lecture on Sept. 14.

“Consumption of a varied and balanced diet is a key component of a healthy lifestyle,” said Dr. O’Connor. “However, there are times during the life-cycle when a supplement helps augment the diet. Two examples are the use of a folic acid-containing multivitamin supplement around the time of conception for the prevention of birth defects or a vitamin D supplement for breastfed infants to promote normal bone development.”

But what is the evidence of the effectiveness of multivitamin supplements generally? Do they appropriately target those nutrients Canadians are likely to be consuming in less than optimal amounts? Is there any evidence that Canadians may be consuming too many multivitamin supplements and can too many supplements cause harm?

Multivitamin use in Canada

Dr. O’Connor’s public lecture, titled Multivitamin Supplements: Too Much of a Good Thing?, will discuss multivitamin supplement use in Canada — who is using them, whether they rectify specific nutrient deficiencies and what are some general rules of thumb to prevent consuming unsafe levels. It will take place Wednesday, Sept. 14, at 7:30 p.m. in the Bruneau Centre for Innovation, room IIC-2001.

In addition, she will also deliver a research seminar geared towards a scientific audience titled, Maternal Folate and One-Carbon Nutrient Intakes, Programming and Metabolic Outcomes in Offspring. It will take place Sept. 14 at 3:30 p.m., also in IIC-2001.

Dr. O’Connor serves as co-chair of the Advisory Committee for the Rogers Hixon Ontario Human Donor Milk Bank and co-chair of the Canadian Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Nutrition Working Group that recently published female nutrition guidelines for Canada. She is also a member of the U.S.-Canada Joint Dietary Reference Intake Working Group on Chronic Disease Endpoints and leads research programs that evaluate strategies to optimize the use of human milk for vulnerable humans.

She was was formerly senior clinical group leader at Abbott Laboratories in Ohio where she developed one of the first human milk nutrient fortifiers. Dr. O’Conner also served as the director of Clinical Dietetics and Breastfeeding Support at The Hospital for Sick Children and associate chief of Academic and Professional Practice.

Faith Elizabeth Winifred (Rusted) Bayley Nutrition Lecture

Both lectures are open to all and the evening lecture will be followed by a reception. Limited parking is available in lot 1A.

The Faith Elizabeth Winifred (Rusted) Bayley Nutrition Lecture is hosted by the Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Science. It was established by a bequest from Dr. Nigel Rusted in memory of his sister, a dietitian and high-ranking RCAF squadron leader in the Eastern Air Command during the Second World War.

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