The news has been a blur with recent highlights from 2 studies looking at the benefits of multivitamin use. If you took the uneducated viewpoint, you’d throw out those bottles now.
Before I get into the gist of this article, let me point out the two articles from the Annals of Internal Medicine that were the summary of two different studies looking at the effect of multivitamin use on two different conditions. Specifically:
- Use of a high dose multivitamin for under 3 years to lower the risk of a SECOND heart attack.
- Use of a standard multivitamin to protect cognitive function in older male physicians over the course of 12 years.
The use of a multivitamin in these two situations is ridiculous and were designed to fail. Any physician who would look a patient who just had a heart attack in the eye and tell them they need to take a multivitamin to prevent a second heart attack does not understand nutrition and supplementation, especially in lieu of other lifestyle changes. The story is not much different for the cognitive trial. Protecting your brain is a lifetime’s task or making the right decisions, not a little over a decade of a simple, low quality multivitamin.
From these two studies, the world of medicine and the popular press have decided that multivitamins are a waste of money.
These groups however, seem unaware of this particular study. (Special thanks for DSD International for alerting me to this study) It was a study commissioned by the Committee on Responsible Nutrition and was designed to “examine the potential health care cost savings if people over the age of 55 use certain dietary supplements that have been shown to lower disease risks. Specifically, this report will examine evidence that demonstrates that the use of key dietary supplement ingredients can reduce illness-related hospital utilization costs associated with heart disease, age-related eye disease, diabetes, and bone disease in the United States.”
The 125 page report goes into detail about the relationship between specific supplements and specific diseases. Here’s a summary:
The use of omega-3 supplements to lower risk for those at higher risk of heart disease can save as much as $2.06 billion on average per year.
The use of folic acid, B6, and B12 to lower risk for those at higher risk of heart disease can save as much as $1.52 billion per year.
The use of phytosterol containing supplements in all U.S. adults over the age of 55 diagnosed with heart disease can save as much as $4.23 billion per year.
The use of lutein and zeaxanthin supplements in every person over the age of 55 with age-related eye disease (ARED like macular degeneration) can save $966.6 million per year.
The use of calcium and vitamin D by all U.S. women over the age of 55 diagnosed with osteoporosis can save $1.52 billion per year.
The use of magnesium in these same osteoporotic women can save $595.3 million per year.
These are some serious numbers AND take into account the cost of the supplementation, which is minute compared to the cost of drugs designed for these same conditions. Side effects, as well, are minimal, again especially when compared to the drugs used to treat these conditions.
The bottom line is that, before you run to the cabinet to throw out your supplements, you should consider what happens when we study conditions that supplements actually make sense to use against, instead of waste-of-money studies that don’t even make sense.