Study After Study Find No Benefits to Multivitamins
Posted on December 23, 2013 Comments (3)
The largest study of its kind concludes that long-term multivitamin use has no impact on the risk of common cancers, cardiovascular disease or overall mortality in postmenopausal women.
“Dietary supplements are used by more than half of all Americans, who spend more than $20 billion on these products each year. However, scientific data are lacking on the long-term health benefits of supplements,” said lead author Marian L. Neuhouser, Ph.D., an associate member of the Public Health Sciences Division at the Hutchinson Center.
The study focused the effects of multivitamins because they are the most commonly used supplement. “To our surprise, we found that multivitamins did not lower the risk of the most common cancers and also had no impact on heart disease,” she said.
The study assessed multivitamin use among nearly 162,000 women enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative, one of the largest U.S. prevention studies of its kind designed to address the most common causes of death, disability and impaired quality of life in postmenopausal women. The women were followed for about eight years.
Nearly half of the study participants – 41.5 percent – reported using multivitamins on a regular basis. Multivitamin users were more likely to be white, live in the western United States, have a lower body-mass index, be more physically active and have a college degree or higher as compared to non-users.
The study found no significant differences in risk of cancer, heart disease or death between the multivitamin users and non-users.
These findings are consistent with most previously published results regarding the lack of health benefits of multivitamins, Neuhouser said, but this study provides definitive evidence. Since the study did not include men, Neuhouser cautions that the results may not apply to them.
So what advice do Neuhouser and colleagues offer to women who want to make sure they’re getting optimal nutrition? “Get nutrients from food,” she said. “Whole foods are better than dietary supplements. Getting a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains is particularly important.”
Read full press release from 2009. A new study again further reinforces these findings; for women and men.
“We believe that the case is closed — supplementing the diet of well-nourished adults with most mineral or vitamin supplements has no clear benefit and might even be harmful,” the researchers wrote in their editorial.
The use of multivitamin and mineral supplements among Americans has increased to about 50 percent in the mid-2000s, up from 40 percent in the early 1990s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Vitamins do not replicate what we get from eating fruits and vegetables. There are many more interactions and complexity that we miss trying to use multivitamins to substitute for a healthy diet. In general even those eating a common bad diet (not enough fruits and vegetables, far too much sugar/corn syrup, too much salt, too many calories…) in a rich country are not missing vitamins that a multivitamin pill helps supplement. We do need to eat more healthily but that needs to be by doing just that, not by taking a multivitamin and thinking that help.