December 17, 2013
Trio Of Studies Claim Daily Vitamins Offer No Real Benefits To Health
[ Watch the Video: Multivitamin Myths Debunked? ]
Brett Smith for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Three newly published studies in the Annals of Internal Medicine have found no real value in taking daily vitamin supplements.
In an accompanying editorial published alongside the studies, a team of UK and US scientists blasted the use of the supplements, saying “enough is enough.”
"The message is simple: Most supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death, their use is not justified, and they should be avoided," the editorial authors wrote.
"What we've found time and again is that the supplements are not working… we don't need to go on studying them forever," editorial writer Eliseo Guallar, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told USA Today's Kim Painter in an interview.
One of the newly published studies -- "Long-Term Multivitamin Supplementation and Cognitive Function in Men: A Randomized Trial" -- looked at the effect of daily supplements on the cognitive decline of older men. Study researchers tracked male physicians older than 65 for an average of 11 years and discovered multivitamins had no effect on cognitive decline.
Another newly released study -- "Daily multivitamin supplements did not reduce risk for major CV events over > 10 years in men" -- examined the effects of high-dose multivitamins on the development of heart disease in people who had survived a heart attack episode.
In that study, researchers randomly assigned over 1,700 volunteers aged 50 years or older to take either an oral 28 component high-dose supplement mixture or a placebo. While the supplement regimen was not found to be harmful, it did not seem to affect the outcomes of patients receiving appropriate, evidence-based medical therapy.
The latest issue of the journal also published a report from the US Preventive Services Task Force which found "limited evidence supports any benefit from vitamin and mineral supplementation for the prevention of cancer or cardiovascular disease."
The panel review called for any possible effect on cancer in men "border-line significant,” noting that a few studies have found harm from regular use of beta-carotene supplements.
Perhaps not surprisingly, those in the vitamin industry group are offering a serious rebuke of the anti-supplement editorial.
"While those in the ivory tower may say that people just need to eat their sardines and salads, in the real world there are nutrient gaps," Duffy MacKay, of the supplement-maker advocacy group Council for Responsible Nutrition, told USA Today.
John Michael Gaziano, a researcher at Brigham and Women's Hospital who co-authored one of the new studies, admitted there are some gaps in the research of vitamin and mineral supplements.
"It drives me crazy that they say 'enough is enough,' when there's only been one large study of (standard) multivitamins and it's ours," he said.
According to Guallar, the 53 percent of American consumers who buy supplements are wasting a grand total of $28 billion a year. He added money is also being wasted on research that keeps reaching the same conclusion – supplements offer no significant health benefit.
However, he did note some exceptions, such as women of childbearing age who should be taking folic acid supplements to prevent birth defects. He added some research is showing that vitamin D supplements provide some benefits, such as preventing falls in the elderly.