Multivitamins don't prevent cancer, heart disease

Many Americans take daily vitamins, but do they really work? That answer just got a little more complicated. According to a new meta-analysis by the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, multivitamins do little to prevent fatal diseases, such as cancer or heart disease. The Center is working with the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force to update the organization’s recommendations.

Researchers reviewed 24 studies of vitamins, minerals, and functional nutrient pairs and concluded that there is zero evidence supporting the benefits of supplements when it comes to cancer, heart disease, or all-cause mortality.

The report, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, also found that vitamin E supplements have no benefits and that beta-carotene can actually increase the risk of lung cancer in smokers.  But the researchers also said their analysis showed that folic acid clearly helps pregnant women have healthier babies.

The bottom line is that people should focus on getting their necessary nutrients through fruits, vegetables, whole grains and seafood--which have been shown to help prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease--rather then relying on multivitamins to keep them healthy.

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