Multivitamins are no magic bullet panacea

March 2, 2009 By Jodi Mailander Farrell

We've been told for years that popping a multivitamin will make us healthier and prolong our lives, but a major study recently found that daily multivitamins don't make a difference in the rate of breast or colon cancer, heart attack, stroke, blood clots or mortality.

What you should know:

• Don't toss your pills - yet: The study, part of the government-funded Women's Health Initiative, is well-respected, but it was on 161,808 postmenopausal women and the follow-up time was about eight years. Critics say the results shouldn't be generalized to rest of the population and that eight years may not be enough time to see an effect. The study doesn't apply to pregnant women or people who take vitamins because they have a deficiency in, say, vitamin D or other important nutrients.

• Don't run out and buy them, either: The National Institutes for Health in 2006 concluded that evidence supporting the benefits and even the safety of multivitamin and mineral supplements is limited and inconclusive. Scientists suspect the benefits of a healthy diet come from eating whole fruits and vegetables, not the individual vitamins in them. They're beginning to study whether high doses of whole-food extracts can replicate the benefits.

• Bottom line: Health doesn't come in a pill. The lead researcher in this latest study says people should buy fruit and veggies, not multivitamins.

• Learn more: Keep an eye on The Stanford Nutrition Studies Program, which has ongoing studies on the health benefits of everything from supplements like Omega-3 fatty acids and ginkgo biloba extract to soy milk and garlic, at nutrition.stanford.edu.

___

(c) 2009, The Miami Herald.
Visit The Miami Herald Web edition on the World Wide Web at www.herald.com/
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Explore further: Activity tracker uses heart rate to personalize amount of exercise needed to prevent death

Related Stories

The bottom line benefits of corporate wellness programs

August 25, 2016

Nearly 90 percent of companies in the United States use some form of employee wellness program – from gym memberships to health screenings to flu shots – all designed to improve health. Yet past research mostly measured ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Cow embryos reveal new type of chromosome chimera

May 27, 2016

I've often wondered what happens between the time an egg is fertilized and the time the ball of cells that it becomes nestles into the uterine lining. It's a period that we know very little about, a black box of developmental ...

Shaving time to test antidotes for nerve agents

February 29, 2016

Imagine you wanted to know how much energy it took to bike up a mountain, but couldn't finish the ride to the peak yourself. So, to get the total energy required, you and a team of friends strap energy meters to your bikes ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.