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More Bad News for Vitamins

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Substantial evidence about the lack of benefit from taking daily multivitamins was published in the current issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. This makes for even more disappointing information that reveals no benefit against major disease conditions from use of multivitamin diet supplements.

Multivitamins are the most commonly used diet supplement, but new research shows that daily multivitamin use doesn’t ward off colon cancer, heart disease, blood clots, stroke or overall mortality. The new data comes from the now famous Women’s Health Initiative research. This government-funded study was able to follow 161,808 women from 40 different centers around the country for eight years. This is a massive amount of experience with reliable and accurate information about the effects of numerous aspects of health, wellness and disease. While research shows that people who eat nutrient-rich diets filled with fruits and vegetables have lower rates of heart disease and cancer, it hasn’t previously been clear whether taking a daily supplement resulted in a similar benefit.

Given that earlier studies allowed us to cling to the notion that vitamin supplements may be helpful in preventing colon cancer, breast cancer or heart disease, this data is particularly disappointing. This should be a wake up call for the millions of Americans who spend up to $20 billion a year on vitamin and dietary supplements. Supplements containing good nutrients do not have the same effect as the naturally occurring nutrient rich foods. Although we don’t understand why this is so, it is repeatedly clear that it is true.

Unfortunately the science again points out the substitute or shortcut for which we long simply does not exist. The vitamin and supplement industry is largely unregulated. Advertising plays on our collective fears and frustrations with maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Recognize the unreliability of advertising. Be a more skeptical consumer. The good news is that the same effort and money should be spent on exercise and a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and more natural foods. Emphasizing the basics that do correlate to healthier, longer lives is what does work.

So cheer up! Keep moving and spend your dollars where they will help you meet your goals and aspirations.

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About Bruce Kaler M.D.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    I don’t think this article is dumb… I just think that most people take MultiVitamins to supplement the vitamins they may not be getting from their diet. Though, does this article imply that there is no use for a MultiVitamin whatsoever?? I never took one thinking that it would ward off Cancer.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Clint, what about the article was dumb? Your comment heaps scorn upon the general public, but there’s nothing in this particular article that struck me as “dumb.”

  • Clint Blumer

    This is one of the dumbest articles that I have ever read. How many people expect multivitamins to prevent cancer or heart disease? Maybe the uneducated general public! I could write volumes on the bad effects of prescription medications that I have just recently experienced. Give me the dietary supplements anytime over prescription medications.
    I have to laugh at all the negative media against dietary supplements because the dollar income is rapidly approaching the pharmaceutical industry. How much $ are gained by those who write against dietary supplements from pharmaceutical grants? The general public may be fooled, but not those in the know. I suppose this is the intention of those that produce articles like this – to “educate” the general public. I got news for you. The general public is beginning to find out for themselves.
    Nice try….