Studies say multivitamins don't prevent disease
An editorial in the Annals of Internal Medicine, based on three recent studies, suggets that vitamin and mineral supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death, and some may even be harmful in well-nourished adults.
The researchers concluded that people would be better off spending their money on healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans and low-fat dairy, along with getting more exercise.
The first study looked at 6,000 male doctors aged 65 and older, who either took a multivitamin or a placebo for 12 years. Researchers were looking for the multivitamin’s effect on cognitive health.
Tests of memory and cognitive function showed no difference between the two groups, which led to the conclusion that multivitamins do not have cognitive benefits.
The second study looked at whether vitamin and mineral supplements could prevent heart disease and cancer. The scientific review found little evidence to justify regular use of supplements. It also found that beta-carotene can increase the risk of lung cancer in smokers.
The third study looked at the role of multivitamins and minerals in preventing another heart attack in more than 1,700 patients at least six weeks after having a heart attack. Participants were given either a daily high dose of multivitamins or a placebo for five years.
The results showed no difference between the groups in rates of chest pain, need for hospitalization, stroke or early death.
The editorial noted that Americans spend more than $28 billion a year on dietary supplements.