Multivitamins are a combination of many different vitamins that are normally found in foods and other natural sources. These are used to provide vitamins that are not being sufficiently consumed in one’s diet. Multivitamins are also used to treat vitamin deficiencies caused by illness, pregnancy, poor nutrition, digestive disorders, and many other conditions.
For decades, doctors and health experts alike have suggested taking a daily multivitamin as a dietary supplement. In recent years though, more research calls to question whether or not these supplements, which can be very costly, are truly necessary.
StudyFinds has published research on both sides of the debate. World-renowned physicians and mental health experts say multivitamins can do our bodies lots of good. But for those unsure about taking them, here’s a look at five pieces of published research that suggest the very opposite.
Note: The original post for each study, including journal citation, is posted as “READ MORE” after each section.
Multivitamins don’t prevent heart attacks, stroke, cardiovascular death
Research shows that multivitamin supplements have no effect on heart health, and won’t reduce one’s odds of suffering a heart attack, stroke, or even death from a heart-related condition.
The study examined data from 18 different studies on multivitamin and mineral supplements. Results for more than 2 million people were recorded, with an average follow-up about 12 years from the start of their respective study. Findings show no clinical benefit of multivitamin and mineral use to prevent heart attacks, strokes or cardiovascular death. Thus, it only adds to a growing body of evidence that multivitamins are more taboo than anything else.
While the study shows no health benefits, there doesn’t seem to be any harm in taking vitamin supplements either. Still, in light of this, the study does not recommend using multivitamin or mineral supplements to prevent cardiovascular diseases. There’s just no substitute for a balanced, nutritious diet with more fruits and vegetables that limits excess calories, saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, sugar and dietary cholesterol.
Won’t reduce the risk of dying from COVID-19
Taking a few extra vitamins while dealing with a case of COVID-19 certainly seems to make sense. However, a new study finds immune-boosting supplements such as vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc do virtually nothing to lower a patient’s risk of dying from coronavirus.
The study reviewed a new set of COVID-19 hospitalization data to formulate this review, warning that there is no real evidence that supplements actually treat or lessen the severity of COVID-19 symptoms. This aims to correct the misconception that if you load up on zinc, vitamin D or vitamin C, it can help the clinical outcome of being infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Specifically, the study analyzed 26 global peer-reviewed studies encompassing 5,600 hospitalized COVID-19 patients for this project. Results show no evidence of a drop in mortality rates among COVID-19 patients taking vitamin D, vitamin C, or zinc supplements in comparison to other patients. However, the data did suggest that vitamin D supplementation in particular has a loose association with lower rates of intubation and shorter hospital stays.
In a continued survey of people taking a vitamin D supplement habitually prior to contracting COVID. Once again, the study did not find a significant change in mortality rate among these individuals. The study wants to make it clear that their work is in no way stating that vitamins are unhealthy or should be avoided. It is solely indicating that vitamins will not lower COVID-19 death risk.
Multivitamins, other common supplements have no health benefits
Taking multivitamins or other commonly consumed vitamin and mineral supplements won’t actually provide you any health benefits, but they won’t harm you either, one study finds.
The study conducted a review of 179 studies on popular vitamin supplements published between January 2012 and October 2017. Studies covered a vast spectrum of supplements, including vitamins A, B1, B2, B3 (niacin), B6, B9 (folic acid), C, D and E; and mineral supplements β-carotene; calcium; iron; zinc; magnesium; and selenium. Multivitamins that contained a wide variety of the vitamins and minerals were also reviewed.
Results of the study conclude that the most commonly consumed supplements — multivitamins, vitamin D, calcium, and vitamin C — had no effect on a person’s risk of suffering a heart attack stroke, heart disease, or early death. Moreover, findings show that intake of multivitamins, vitamin D, calcium or vitamin C, does no harm – but there is no apparent advantage either.
The only supplements that showed any benefit among the studies were folic acid or B-vitamins that contained B6, B12, and folic acid, which could lower one’s risk of heart disease and stroke. Thus, these findings suggest that people should be conscious of the supplements they’re taking and ensure they’re applicable to the specific vitamin or mineral deficiencies they have been advised of by their healthcare provider.
No reduction in heart disease risk, even in people who have poor diets
Taking multivitamins won’t help people improve their chances of developing heart disease, even in those who have poor diets.
The study examined 13,316 participants who completed in-depth food frequency questionnaires. Sought to determine whether or not those who exhibited unhealthier dietary conditions would find more benefit to multivitamins than those who already enjoyed a nutritious diet.
Results of the study show no raised or reduced risk of the disease years after the study began, compared to those who took a placebo. Moreover, the study also found that poor nutrition made no difference in the effect of daily multivitamin consumption on cardiovascular disease risk or overall mortality.
Intuitively, many had thought that men with ‘poor’ nutritional status at baseline may benefit more from long-term multivitamin use on heart-related outcomes. However, there is no seen evidence for this in the recent analysis. Thus, it remains critical for people to understand its role on nutritional status and other long-term health outcomes, especially through clinical trials.
Health benefits of multivitamins ‘may all be in the mind’
The health benefits of taking multivitamin supplements may be all in the mind, scientists suggest. People’s positive expectations could be behind the benefits of multivitamin and mineral tablets as there is no hard evidence otherwise.
The study collected data on 21,603 adults in the United States who took part in the 2012 National Health Interview Survey. Of the sample, 4,933 people reported taking multivitamin or mineral tablets regularly.
Findings reveal that regular multivitamin or mineral supplement users reported 30 percent better overall health than those who didn’t take them. However, there was no difference between those who did and didn’t take them in any of the five psychological, physical or functional health outcomes assessed. Two possible explanations were offered for the findings: either people who regularly take supplements simply believe they will give them a health boost, or they are generally more positive about their personal health, regardless of what they take.
The effect of positive expectations in those who take multivitamin or mineral supplements is made even stronger when one considers that the majority of them are sold to the so-called “worried-well.” Nevertheless, the lack of any difference in the health outcomes assessed is in line with other studies indicating that multivitamin or mineral supplements don’t improve overall health in the general adult population.
It’s worth noting that StudyFinds does not agree nor disagree with these studies. If you are thinking about taking a multivitamin supplement or are considering stopping, you should absolutely speak with your physician or health care provider first.