A recent editorial authored by British and U.S. medical doctors and scientists in response to three new studies on vitamin and mineral supplementation, concludes that “supplementing the diet of well-nourished adults. . .has no clear benefit and might even be harmful.” Eliseo Guallar, et al., “Enough Is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements,” Annals of Internal Medicine, December 17, 2013. Representing the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the American College of Physicians, the group’s editorial is based on three studies—published in the same journal issue—that examine the effects of multivitamins on preventing heart attacks and cancer and improving cognitive function in men older than 65.
The first study, a meta-analysis of 27 studies covering more than 450,000 participants, found that taking multivitamins had no beneficial effect onpreventing cardiovascular disease or cancer. A second study examined 6,000 elderly men and found no improvement on cognitive decline after 12 years of taking supplements, and a third study revealed no advantage of supplements among 1,700 heart patients studied over an average of five years. “The message is simple,” write the authors. “Most supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death, their use is not justified, and they should be avoided.” The team also claims that an average western diet is sufficient to provide the vitamins the body needs. “These vitamins should not be used for chronic disease prevention. Enough is enough.” The authors also noted that specifically, antioxidant, folic acid and vitamin B supplements seem to hold no benefits, and beta carotene, vitamin E and high doses of vitamin A could potentially be harmful.