Why Don't Multi-Vitamins Work?

The journal Annals of Internal Medicine this month carries three studies which suggest that vitamin supplementation does not improve health in the general population. (They exempt vitamin D3, which is likely deficient in a large swath of the American population).

Yet multiple prior studies show that a diet of fruit and vegetables high in exactly those vitamins DOES improve health. The current CDC diet recommendations reflect this.

Why the lack of correlation between added multivitamins and health, yet a diet recommending foods rich in vitamins?

There is reason to think that there are aspects of fresh fruits and vegetables that cannot be duplicated in a vitamin tablet, such as the mix of fiber, trace minerals, and complex proteins and lipids which are lacking in ordinary supplemental vitamins and are probably degraded in any attempted reduction for packaging as altenative supplements, such as that done when herbs are processed for placement into capsules. There may simply be no known way to replace fresh produce as a major part of a healthy diet.

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Editorials | 17 December 2013

Enough Is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

Eliseo Guallar, MD, DrPH; Saverio Stranges, MD, PhD; Cynthia Mulrow, MD, MSc, Senior Deputy Editor; Lawrence J. Appel, MD, MPH; and Edgar R. Miller III, MD, PhD

[+] Article and Author Information

See Also:

Oral High-Dose Multivitamins and Minerals After Myocardial Infarction: A Randomized Trial Long-Term Multivitamin Supplementation and Cognitive Function in Men: A Randomized Trial Vitamin and Mineral Supplements in the Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease and Cancer: An Updated Systematic Evidence Review for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

Ann Intern Med. 2013;159(12):850-851-851.

doi:10.7326/0003-4819-159-12-201312170-00011

Article

References

In this issue, 3 articles address vitamin and mineral supplements for prevention of chronic diseases. The editorialists discuss the articles' findings and their implications for public health and research. They conclude that most mineral and vitamin supplements have no clear benefit, might even be harmful in well-nourished adults, and should not be used for chronic disease prevention.

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