Is It Good To Take a Multivitamin Every Day?
Yesterday I talked with someone about the importance of taking B12. He responded that his daily multivitamin contains B12 and I encouraged him to keep taking it, if only for that.
My friend isn’t alone in taking a daily multivitamin (MVM). According to the National Institutes of HealthOffice of Dietary Supplements (ODS) Fact Sheet, one of every three Americans does so “… to increase nutrient intakes and to improve health, prevent chronic disease, or both.”
Yet the Fact Sheet says that we should be getting our nutrition primarily through diet. The scientific evidence shows that MVMs may help people who are deficient in some nutrients. But in other cases, they result in “the concern of excessive intake.”
But do MVMs really “prevent chronic disease?”
The ODS doesn’t think so. They quote the conclusion an expert panel presented to a 2006 NIH conference on the use of MVMs in chronic disease prevention:
“… the present evidence is insufficient to recommend either for or against the use of MVMs by the American public to prevent chronic disease.”
That evidence includes:
• The Women’s Health Initiative Clinical Trialsfollowing 161,808 women aged 50 to 79. More than 67,000 of them (41 percent) took MVMs for eight years. Its findings?
“… convincing evidence that multivitamin use has little or no influence on the risk of common cancers, CVD, or total mortality in postmenopausal women.”
• A cohort study from the University of Hawaii Cancer’s Center Epidemiology Program following a multiethnic group of 182,099 men and women aged 45-75. Its bottom line after 11 years?
“In conclusion, there was no clear decrease or increasein mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, or cancer and in morbidity from overall or major cancers among multivitamin supplement users.”
• The Iowa Women’s Health Study, which followed MVM use in nearly 39,000 older women for 18 year. It found an “increased total mortality risk… this association is strongest with supplemental iron.”
• Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet study that showed howover 10 years, MVMs reduced risk of myocardial infarction in nearly 34,000 middle-aged to elderly women. The subjects included some 2,200 with existing cardiovascular disease.
So the research on MVMs seems pretty clear: They may be slightly helpful or harmful, but in most cases they have no effect at all.
For fruits and vegetables, however, it’s a different story. An abundance of research shows that eating plant-based is a sure way to hit the ODS’ trifecta: increase your nutrition intake, improve your health and prevent chronic disease!