Sensationalist Headlines about Efficacy of Supplements Spin a Misleading Tale.
This was prompted from several studies that recently point to the inefficiency of preventing certain chronic disease with generic multivitamins. However, the headlines and editorials badly misrepresent the actual scientific conclusions.
Here is what has actually been shown in these trials:
1. A study following male physicians over age 65 showed no improvement in cognitive decline using generic multivitamin supplementation.
2. A study shows high dose multivitamins had no effect on the progression of heart disease in heart attack survivors.
3. A previously released study concludes: “Limited evidence supports any benefit from vitamin and mineral supplementation for the prevention of cancer or cardiovascular disease. Two trials found a small, borderline-significant benefit from multivitamin supplements on cancer in men only and no effect on cardiovascular disease.”
Armed with those studies, the Annals of Internal medicine released a strongly worded editorial claiming, “Enough Is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements.”
Even taking the studies at face value, all that has actually been shown is that run of the mill, presumably synthetic multivitamins don’t prevent cognitive decline in men over 65, don’t prevent progression of heart disease in heart attack survivors, and have borderline significant benefit in preventing cancer.
To make the broad claim that multivitamins and mineral supplements are a waste of money “case closed” based upon that data is at the very least an astounding leap.
While the studies may have merit in showing that stemming the tide of these degenerative conditions with untargeted multivitamins alone is ineffective, there are several flaws in the conclusions:
A. Multivitamins are not all created equal and simply because one type doesn’t work for something, it doesn’t necessarily follow that another multivitamin wouldn’t be effective. For example I personally take a live source liquid multi B vitamin from a company called Premier Labs. I notice a dramatic difference in efficacy taking that vs a synthetic tableted B vitamin, even though the tableted vitamin has much higher quantities of each marker. B Vitamin intake for stress is one of the well documented benefits from supplementation (See 2, and 4 below via Pubmed).
B. There are several studies with generic multivitamins for important quality of life health markers that have shown statistically significant benefit.
1. Infectious Illness Prevention: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12614088
3. Cognition: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22711385
4. Work Stress: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21905094
5. Juvenile Delinquency: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10706231