A lot of us take a daily multivitamin. In fact, according to a survey from the American Osteopathic Association, 86% of Americans surveyed report daily use of a multivitamin. These supplements are relatively cheap, accessible, and simple to take. In this busy world, a multi-vitamin can feel like a quick and easy step to good health.
Of those of us who do take a daily multivitamin:
- 51% are doing so at the recommendation of a physician
- 38 % are self-prescribed
- 22% were recommended by someone they know
So how important is it to take a multivitamin every day? While multivitamins may seem like the “cure-all” for many health concerns, recent research indicates that these pills may actually be causing more harm than good! Not only are they potentially ineffective in preventing common diseases, some over-the-counter/easily accessible brands of supplements may not even be filled with the ingredients listed on the label.
We often equate taking a supplement with the benefits of eating a healthy diet, but unfortunately a pill is not as effective as good ol’ fashioned healthy eating. Over the past decade, research has focused on whether multivitamins are a useful tool in preventing common health conditions such as cancer and heart disease. While the research is still ongoing, numerous studies have indicated that multivitamin intake does not reduce mortality rates for these diseases. However, we do know that healthy eating can give your body the sustenance it needs to prevent cancer and cardiovascular diseases. A multivitamin is designed to supplement a healthy diet, not take its place. Not only that, many of the multi-vitamins that are found in your local grocery store could have fillers that may have a negative impact on your health.
If you swear by your multivitamin, look for the NSF label (National Sanitation Foundation) to ensure that the supplement contains the ingredients indicated on the label.
The takeaway: Rather than spending your money on a multivitamin, spend that money on a balanced diet to get all of the vitamins, minerals, and amino acids you need to function and thrive. If you feel you may not be getting the nutrients you need, schedule an appointment with your Naturopathic Physician who can better tailor the supplements to your individual needs.
- American Osteopathic Association. https://osteopathic.org/2019/01/16/poll-finds-86-of-americans-take-vitamins-or-supplements-yet-only-21-have-a-confirmed-nutritional-deficiency/. Accessed January 27, 2020.
- New York Attorney General Targets Supplements at Major Retailers - The New York Times. https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/02/03/new-york-attorney-general-targets-supplements-at-major-retailers/. Accessed January 27, 2020.
- Jacobs EJ, Connell CJ, Patel A v., et al. Multivitamin use and colon cancer mortality in the Cancer Prevention Study II cohort (United States). Cancer Causes and Control. 2001;12(10):927-934. doi:10.1023/A:1013716323466
- Giovannucci E, Stampfer MJ, Colditz GA, et al. Multivitamin use, folate, and colon cancer in women in the nurses’ health study. Annals of Internal Medicine. 1998;129(7):517-524. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-129-7-199810010-00002
- Watkins ML, Erickson JD, Thun MJ, Mulinare J, Heath CW. Multivitamin Use and Mortality in a Large Prospective Study. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2000;152(2):149-162. doi:10.1093/aje/152.2.149
- Macpherson H, Pipingas A, Pase MP. Multivitamin-multimineral supplementation and mortality: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2013;97(2):437-444. doi:10.3945/ajcn.112.049304
- Slatore CG, Littman AJ, Au DH, Satia JA, White E. Long-Term Use of Supplemental Multivitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Folate Does Not Reduce the Risk of Lung Cancer. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. 2008;177(5):524-530. doi:10.1164/rccm.200709-1398OC
- Sesso HD, Christen WG, Bubes V, et al. Multivitamins in the prevention of cardiovascular disease in men: The physicians’ health study II randomized controlled trial. JAMA - Journal of the American Medical Association. 2012;308(17):1751-1760. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.14805
Dr. David Chang ND, LAc
David Chang, ND, LAc, is a board-licensed naturopathic physician and acupuncturist with extensive training in Naturopathic primary care and classical Chinese medicine. With more than six years of professional experience and a strong interest in chronic pain management, he is proud to own and operate his practice in Portland, Oregon.