Are we a well-nourished nation? An editorial in the Annals of Internal Medicine was believed to be the last word on the multi-vitamin debate when new trials did not show a benefit. Authors wrote:
“Enough is enough. [W]e believe that the case is closed- supplementing the diet of well-nourished adults with (most) mineral or vitamin supplements has no clear benefit and might even be harmful.”
A review posted in Advances in Nutrition looked at multi-vitamin/mineral research and found that many studies showed no benefits and a few even suggest a possible risk of harm with specific mineral or vitamin supplementation. There is a huge assumption these studies make; the assumption that adults are choosing or able to eat the types of food necessary to maintain their health.
However, are adults in the U.S. well-nourished? Are they getting all of the necessary required vitamins and minerals to maintain their health? In a land of sky-rocketing obesity and diabetes rates and a wealth of processed foods, are people eating what they need to eat to not require multi-vitamins?
It is ideal to get all of the nutrients required from the food we eat. However, many individuals fail to get the amount required to stay healthy and prevent certain diseases and endpoints, the most commonly used are cardiovascular disease and cancer. With certain nutrients, such as zinc, we do not have enough research to set a Dietary Reference Intake (DRI). A graph created from 2009-2010 NHANES data showed that the majority of people do not get the recommended nutrient intake. With a multivitamin, adults show a remarkable achievement in receiving the DRI suggested. Vitamin C, Choline, Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium are high but most of the rest of the spectrum of vitamins and minerals are met with a single multivitamin added to their diet. Although this information may be a few years old, it stands to show the difference that multi-vitamins can make to an adult who is not getting their minimum requirements met through diet. For some vitamins or nutrients, endpoints have not been set and suggested minimums are established based on excretion. Some trials are also focused on multi-vitamins or a specific nutrient and the endpoints of cancer and cardiovascular disease. So in fact, the Dietary Reference Intake or a suggested RDA may not adequately meet the needs of an individual with a personal history or family history of other endpoints or diseases.
A debate from experts at abcNEWS tackled the topic and discussed relevant research that made people wonder about taking vitamins. Older women who took daily supplements experienced a slight increase in the risk of death compared to those that did not. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) published a study that linked daily vitamin E intake to a 17 percent increase of prostate cancer risk. Experts recommend that some people benefit from multi-vitamins and supplements of specific vitamins and nutrients. Supplements are suggested for pregnant women and those with specific vitamin deficiencies. The evidence that supplements help with conditions such as heart disease, cancer, dementia and other conditions is simply not very strong, according to the chairman at the Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Steve Nissen. He said:
“The concept of multi-vitamins was sold to Americans by an eager nutraceutical industry to generate profits. There was never any scientific data supporting their usage.”
Take a deep breath. It may not be the first time that the American public was sold a false bill of goods. Essentially, multi-vitamins are not necessary for those with a well-rounded diet. In addition, there is a lack of support for supplementation for a number of other conditions and endpoints. As well, some nutrient levels to maintain individual health are not currently known. Multi-vitamins are not a cure-all. Proper diet and exercise should form the base of efforts to maintain good health.[2CreateABody] › [Dietary Supplements] › Multi-Vitamins