Large studies on multivitamins show that for people with good nutrition, they are meaningless. This is not good news for an industry worth $30 billion a year.
Recent scientific articles published in the Annals of Internal Medicine make it clear that if you haven’t seen a doctor who diagnosed a micronutrient deficiency, taking additional vitamins will not affect your health. In fact, there is no reason to believe that vitamins prevent or alleviate chronic diseases of any kind. In the over 65 age group, multivitamins did not prevent memory loss or other brain function deterioration, and another study of 400000 people found no improvement in health with multivitamins.
Worst of all, it is now assumed that excessive consumption of beta-carotene, vitamins A and E can be harmful.
These findings are not really new: there have been similar studies before and the benefits of multivitamins were found to be very low or non-existent, but these studies were by far the largest. The reality is that these substances are really needed for health, but most modern diets include enough, so additional sources are not required. In addition, if the diet is so poor that you have to take supplements, the likely negative effects of such a diet will far outweigh the benefits of taking vitamins.
This is big news when you consider that half of the US adult population consumes supplements every day.
So, vitamins are completely useless? Actually, no.
Many people suffer from long-term illnesses in which they can only eat small amounts of soft food. In such cases, multivitamins are important. Vitamins can also help those who are not used to eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, but other health problems are possible with such a diet. Children who are picky eaters can also benefit from vitamin supplements, but parents need to find a way to fix that pickup.
Another group is the elderly, who, due to difficulties with going to the store or forgetfulness, can eat unbalanced. Vitamin B-12 is important for vegans and many vegetarians because it is found only in animal products and is essential for blood and nerve cells. Iron supplements are important for those with anemia, and a diet of legumes and meats may also help. Vitamin D is important if there is no opportunity to be in the sun for several minutes a day, as well as for children who are fed only breast milk.
It is also important for pregnant women to take vitamins as they promote early development. Although a balanced diet still needs to be followed. In the early stages of pregnancy, folic acid is especially important because it can prevent certain diseases.
Multivitamins are not completely useless, but today they are consumed in amounts that are simply not needed for the benefit that they provide.