Medical Research: No Health Benefits From Multivitamins

By  //  December 18, 2013

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FOCUS ON HEALTHY, WELL-BALANCED DIET RATHER THAN 'WASTING' MONEY ON VITAMINS

In the most recent issue of The Annals of Internal Medicine, three articles address vitamin and mineral supplements for prevention of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and brain and cognitive measures. 

The experts discuss the articles’ findings and their implications for public health and research.

vitamins-vs-food

There is no clear evidence that vitamin supplementation is beneficial in well-nourished adults.

Focusing on whether or not daily multivitamins make you healthier, the authors of the articles and the editorial conclude that most mineral and vitamin supplements have no clear benefit, might even be harmful in well-nourished adults, and should not be used for chronic disease prevention.

“Other reviews and guidelines that have appraised the role of vitamin and mineral supplements in primary or secondary prevention of chronic disease have consistently found null results or possible harms,” noted Eliseo Guallar, MD, DrPH, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and colleagues in editorial comments about the findings of the three studies.

OVER $28 BILLION SPENT ANNUALLY ON DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS

Despite that, the percentage of Americans using multivitamin supplements and other dietary supplements has been growing, with a previous study showing an increase from 42 percent from 1988 to 1994 to 53 percent from 2003 to 2006.

Guallar also points out that sales of multivitamins and other supplements have not been affected by major studies that show no benefit from supplemental vitamins, and the U.S. supplement industry continues to grow, reaching $28 billion in annual sales in 2010.

EAT HEALTHY, DON’T WASTE YOUR MONEY ON SUPPLEMENTS

“Evidence is sufficient to advise against routine supplementation, and we should translate null and negative findings into action,” Guallar and colleagues wrote.

“The message is simple: Most supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death, their use is not justified, and they should be avoided.”

Dr. Eliseo Guallar: 'Most supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death, their use is not justified,

Dr. Eliseo Guallar: ‘Most supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death, their use is not justified, and they should be avoided.’

The diet of most Americans provides the necessary vitamins.

“This message is especially true for the general population with no clear evidence of micronutrient deficiencies, who represent most supplement users in the U.S. and in other countries,” they added.

One of the studies, which was conducted to find evidence that can be used to update vitamin treatment guidelines for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a panel of medical experts who make treatment recommendations for the government, concluded that “because there is no clear evidence that most vitamins and multivitamins have any positive impact on cardiovascular disease and cancer, rather than recommend vitamin/mineral supplements, health care professionals should counsel their patients to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet that is rich in nutrients.” (Neale, MedpageToday, 12/16, Jaslow, CBS News, 12/16)


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