Multivitamins have no health benefits and could be harmful, researchers claim
Since November, the publication of three studies has given doctors even more insight into the question of whether or not vitamin and mineral supplements make individuals healthier when it comes to chronic disease prevention. In an editorial in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the authors of the study came out with a strong answer: They do not.
“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 authors wrote. “These vitamins should not be used for chronic disease prevention. Enough is enough.”
Titled, “Enough is enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements,” the authors stated that, based on studies analyzing the links between multivitamins and cancer, heart health, and brain functions, there’s no reason to think supplements do any good.
Speaking with CBS News, one of the editorial’s co-authors, Dr. Edgar Miller of John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland, said that instead of expecting multivitamins to make you healthier, people should focus on eating a healthier diet and exercising.
According to a November study, there’s no clear evidence that supplements reduce the risk of heart disease. In fact, the study found that taking beta-carotene and vitamin E might actually raise the risk of lung cancer in those already susceptible to the disease.
A second study in December found that multivitamins do not help reduce the decay of the mind’s cognitive functions. Meanwhile, the results of a third study showed that supplements do not reduce the risk of a second heart attack or other heart-related hospitalization.
Despite these results, an industry group supporting the use of supplements blasted the conclusions as “close-minded.”
“The editorial demonstrates a close-minded, one-sided approach that attempts to dismiss even the proven benefits of vitamins and minerals," Steve Mister, president and CEO of the Council for Responsible Nutrition, said to CBS. "It’s a shame for consumers that the authors refuse to recognize the real-life need for vitamin and mineral supplementation, living in a fairy-tale world that makes the inaccurate assumption that we’re all eating healthy diets and getting everything we need from food alone.”
While the authors behind these studies say the case against multivitamins, with the possible exception of vitamin D, is closed, the U.S. supplement industry has continued to grow. Some experts, like Dr. Howard Sesso of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, believe that nutrient-deficient individuals could still benefit from multivitamins and in other specific cases.
“For better or for worse, supplementation's not going to go away," he told Fox News. At the same time, he added, "there's no substitute for preaching a healthy diet and good behaviors."