Do Multivitamins Really Work?

A recent editorial in The Annals of Internal Medicine lit my fuse! Guallar E, Stranges S, Mulrow C, et al.  Enough Is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements. Ann Intern Med. 2013;159(12):850-851.

Why is it that conventional medicine is so fixated on dismissing nutrition that they will publish bad research to get it off their backs? Instead they could focus on the valuable research and publications that educate us about the value nutrition and supplements have in our modern world.

The sad thing is that in this age of sound bites many people are vulnerable to the decrees of quick journalism and poor research and believe the conclusions without looking more deeply into the actual science. Point in fact, the hospital where I am associated recently posted that they were taking the multivitamin off their shelves as a result of this editorial!

Well, lets take a look at the editorial and what their conclusions were based on. They evaluated three studies. The main one was from a Physician Health Study and followed 15,000 men. They were interested in whether a dietary supplement had any effect on their memory or cognition. What wasn’t mentioned in the news bites was that the vitamin used was Centrum Silver. It is not an ideal supplement for several reasons including that it has deficiencies in many of its minerals (eg. 13% of the RDA for magnesium) and the minerals it does have have been found to be poorly absorbed.  Additionally, it contains  excesses of food colorings, synthetic forms of vitamins and hydrogenated palm oil! It has since been replaced and is not currently on the market.

So all multivitamins are disregarded because of one study of one questionable formulation? How would it be if we condemned all drugs because of one drug being ineffective! Talk about bad logic and poor science. Now they wash their hands and say “Enough is Enough!”

What’s odd is that a previous analysis of the same study in JAMA (Journal of American Medical Association) 2012 concluded that “daily multivitamin supplementation modestly  but significantly reduced the risk of cancer”. This wasn’t mentioned in the 2014 editorial! What gives with that?

My advice is continue to eat the best diet you can in your busy life but know that stress, pollution and aging will require a quality multiple vitamin and mineral supplement that for optimal health and immune function. I would be cautious of those sold in grocery stores and drug stores and seek out  conscientious companies with high manufacturing standards.

I will devote my next blog to sharing with you the positive research that supports your health and not  that which dismisses it!

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