A woman holds several multivitamins and medications in her palm.

Despite the robust marketing and billions in annual sales, the evidence supporting the claimed health benefits of multivitamins is scant. One of the largest studies ever completed on the subject reports little to no impact on cardiovascular disease or cancer. The question of whether multivitamins are truly beneficial remains a fascinating and open one. 

Multivitamin Research Study Results: Negative on Mortality

The National Institutes of Health recently released one of the most comprehensive studies in its history, covering two decades of data from nearly 400,000 US adults. The analysis shows no association between daily use of multivitamins and a lower risk of death. Researchers specifically addressed potential conflicts to ensure informative results; for example, the study accounted for the tendency of multivitamin takers to be more mindful of health and wellness in other areas of their lives. 

After stripping away these potential issues, researchers found no evidence that daily multivitamin use reduces the risk of death from any cause. Specifically, the individuals taking multivitamins saw no lower risk of death from cancer, heart disease, or cerebrovascular disease while accounting for ethnicity, education, and diet quality. 

Read more: The Cancer Industry Problem

Is Taking a Multivitamin Worth It?

Research in mineral and vitamin supplementation dates back centuries. Doctors famously remedied scurvy in seafarers by prescribing regular vitamin C intake, although they didn’t quite understand the value of the vitamin in lime juice. 

Mortality rates shouldn’t serve as the only basis for vitamin intake. The study doesn’t capture the health benefits of multivitamins for addressing specific dietary deficiencies or their impact on age-related diseases, including memory loss and cognitive decline more generally. 

Do Multivitamins Really Work?

There’s no perfect answer, but most healthcare professionals recommend getting as much of your mineral and vitamin needs as possible through real food. A healthy daily intake of vegetables, fruits, cereal grains, and legumes is considered more beneficial than supplementation. In most cases, a healthy, well-rounded diet is likely sufficient for vitamin and mineral needs.

That advice may raise eyebrows among the millions of adults who take a daily vitamin supplement. Roughly one in three US adults take a multivitamin each day, and those who do so have a mortality risk 4% higher than those who do not. The results may not influence decision-making among daily consumers or put a dent in the $40 billion dollar US vitamin and mineral supplementation market. 

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