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Multivitamin Researchers Say 'Case Is Closed' As Studies Find No Health Benefits 554

Posted by Soulskill
from the flintstones-have-betrayed-me dept.
schwit1 sends this excerpt from CBS: "'Enough' with the multivitamins already. That's the message from doctors behind three new studies and an editorial that tackled an oft-debated question in medicine: Do daily multivitamins make you healthier? After reviewing the available evidence and conducting new trials, the authors have come to a conclusion of 'no.' 'We believe that the case is closed — supplementing the diet of well-nourished adults with (most) mineral or vitamin supplements has no clear benefit and might even be harmful,' concluded the authors of the editorial summarizing the new research papers, published Dec. 16 in the Annals of Internal Medicine. 'These vitamins should not be used for chronic disease prevention. Enough is enough.' They went on to urge consumers to not 'waste' their money on multivitamins."
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Multivitamin Researchers Say 'Case Is Closed' As Studies Find No Health Benefits

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  • by Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @06:17PM (#45719459)

    yeah, and those that don't get a balanced diet?

    Like me. I live alone, and so I don't cook very often. Mostly I get home from work, heat something up quickly and that is dinner.
    I started on a daily multivitamin about a year ago, and have since generally felt better. For the minimal expense I will stick with my daily multivitamin.

  • by SheldonYoung (25077) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @06:19PM (#45719485)

    “... supplementing the diet of well-nourished adults with (most) mineral or vitamin supplements has no clear benefit...”

    This is a great example of how a precise statement by a researcher is misinterpreted or misrepresented when presented to the general public. The above statement is a useful result with a well-defined meaning which is being used in a context that makes it sound like supplements have zero benefit. It's no surprise that that supplements have no clear benefit... when you are a "well-nourished adult'! The danger is that this result can cause people who are not well-nourished to stop taking supplements that may be keeping them outside of harm.

    Writers looking to make a story where there isn't one cause much more harm than supplements ever could. (No facts were harmed in the making of that statement.)

  • by msobkow (48369) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @06:22PM (#45719519) Homepage Journal

    Exactly. A $12 bottle of multivitamins every two months is a heck of a lot cheaper than fresh produce. And when you're on a disability budget, there is no where near enough money for a "healthy" diet.

    Hell, I ate better in university than I do nowadays.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @06:36PM (#45719689)

    Our foods, even junk foods, are highly fortified. They have been for almost a hundred years. At one time a large percentage of American adults had real nutrient deficiencies, leading to deformities, vision problems, and most visibly skin conditions. The government fixed all of that by adulterating our food, and they continue to do that (unless you buy "organic" dry food stuffs).

    If you feel better because of a multivitamin, it's almost certainly because of a single vitamin deficiency. Probably vitamin D, which is common and which can cause depression. A blood workup probably would have shown.

    Multivitamins are mostly packed with stuff you don't need and aren't deficient in, even if all you eat is junk food all day.

  • by cayenne8 (626475) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @06:44PM (#45719785) Homepage Journal

    Exactly. A $12 bottle of multivitamins every two months is a heck of a lot cheaper than fresh produce. And when you're on a disability budget, there is no where near enough money for a "healthy" diet.

    Wow....where do you live where junk food is cheaper than healthy, home cooked veggies, etc?

    I cook most everything at home, and I've done it for awhile, even on very restricted budgets. But you have to buy raw ingredients (not preprocessed) and cut and cook them yourself.

    Start by seeing what is on sale at the various grocery stores each week, and build your menu around those. I often hit 2-4 stores each week buying the sale items and going from there.

    Buy what veggies and fruits are in season, those are usually the cheapest and best for you.

    Doing things like that, can really help you eat healthier and cheaper than dining on preprocessed crap which will kill you in the long run. Also, find the days on which they mark down meats for quick sale, that's a good one. Hell, one time in college, studying for finals, I took a break to cook a late night snack...while a friend was coming over.

    He came over with a pizza, and I was eating veal chops in a champagne cream sauce, and my meal cost far less than his....

  • source? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by globaljustin (574257) <justinglobal @ g m a i> on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @06:46PM (#45719795) Homepage Journal

    Our foods, even junk foods, are highly fortified.

    at first read this seems counter to everything I've experienced..."highly fortified....for almost a hundred years"???

    i know some products advertise that they have vitamins & some regulation took place, but those regulations were always fought by the industry as "government intervention that costs consumers"

    also, i'm more skeptical of a Pepsi that says it has vitimin C that will help me than I am of a multivitamin

  • by kylemonger (686302) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @06:47PM (#45719807)

    Well, no, they aren't equivalent but they can, for example, be the difference between general good health and having your teeth rocking in their sockets from scurvy if you can't afford the produce. Vitamin C is also important for connective tissue repair, which means that if you do hard manual labor, a supplement can produce a huge difference in your day-to-day quality of life for a whole lot less money than the produce.

  • by houghi (78078) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @08:16PM (#45720819)

    I live alone and I cook about 5 or 6 times a week. The other 1 or 2 I go to a restaurant (Real one, not fast food) with friends. I spend almost no time on cooking as most of the time I cook the ultimate 'fast food' using a wok.

    I bought a Wok cookbook at a second hand store and started cooking. Takes about 10-15 minutes to prepare my dinner (including prep time) and I use fresh vegetables and meat.

    For work I prepare salads withe iceberg salad and make 5 of them on the Sunday. The iceberg salad is so it stays fresh. For those 5 I take about 20 minutes to one hour, depending on my mood.

    So that is not even 2 hours per week I spend cooking.

    The most important part of all this is planning. I started by writing down what I would eat for the whole week and bought accordingly. I now have enough experience that my shopping-list looks like:
    2 crops iceberg
    5 x for salad (e.g. for 5 days, smoked salmon, shrimps, tuna, mozzarella, ... Adding tomatoes and onions and the like if needed)
    1 chicken filet (Good for 2 or 3 days wok)
    1 x fish
    1 x veal
    1 x pork
    1 x bag mixed vegetables for wok
    2 x different vegetables

    Then if needed different sorts of rice, different sorts of noodles, soya sauce, garlic, coriander, pipe onion, eggs.

    I only need to do groceries once per week, so no time loss there either.

    To me cooking each day is better then re-heating food. the sole thing that helped me do this was the planning part. Writing down what I was going to eat the coming week. That and buying a book about cooking with a wok and the looking for combinations that would taste good AND are fast to do.

  • Flawed study. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @08:58PM (#45721285) Homepage

    When I am stressed beyond limit at work I notice my cuticles start to crack and I have other issues. so I start taking a multivitamin and all those go away. Their study was conducted with stress free and balanced diet test subjects.

    70% of americans do not eat a balanced diet. They eat crap like ramen, and McDonalds $1 menu because they HAVE NO MONEY. Those people benefit greatly from a multivitamin.

    And a lot of very smart people and studies have proven that a D vitamin supplement in the winter for northern climates are very beneficial for people that get almost no sunlight for 3 months.

    So the study is definitive for a narrow minority. Case closed.

  • by LF11 (18760) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @09:05PM (#45721335) Homepage

    Not really. Vitamin absorption is a complicated topic.

    For example, in the case of just calcium:

    * Phytic acid (whole grain cereals) inhibits uptake
    * Long chain fatty acids (animal fats, including butter) inhibit uptake
    * Vitamin C promotes uptake
    * Vitamin D promotes uptake
    * Protein promotes uptake

    Now calcium-fortified cow's milk is very interesting. Because of the need to buffer animal protein with an alkaline buffer during digestion, drinking milk -- including calcium-fortified milk -- tends to actually remove calcium from the body. This is not the case for human milk because the calcium/protein ratio is different, but if you need to supplement calcium, consuming cow's milk is not a good method.

    On the other hand, regarding iron:

    * Calcium (and zinc, eggs, tea, coffee) inhibit uptake
    * Vegetable protein inhibits uptake
    * Vitamin C promotes uptake (same as with calcium)
    * Copper promotes uptake

    Iron is divided into two types: haem (from hemoglobin, i.e. animals) and non-haem. Haem iron is considerably easier for the body to absorb, but if you supplement non-haem iron with vitamin C, you get a very similar absorption rate as haem iron without vitamin C.

    Nutrition is a very complicated topic. Every nutrient is different.

    It seems that eating a balanced diet (including animal protein but not much animal protein) is actually a pretty good way to obtain most of the vitamins and minerals you need. If you need to supplement, you should definitely look up what factors promote or inhibit absorption.

    Yes, many multivitamins contain non-digestible forms of vitamins. My favorites are iron oxide (rust) and calcium carbonate. Those are essentially non-absorbable forms of those minerals. Cheap vitamins have iron oxide and calcium carbonate. Expensive vitamins (sometimes, occasionally) have better forms. Generall, minerals in the form of an ionic salt are barely usable by the body.

    I am unaware of the body becoming lazy with regards to absorbing vitamins, so I can't comment on that. However, it is a good idea to stop taking all vitamins at least once a week. If there is a "memory effect", this will help to reset things so the body does not become acclimatized/insular to a certain nutritional profile.

    It is better to consume low doses of vitamins over a long period of time, than to sporadically consume large quantities. If I only ate fresh produce one week out of 3, I would consume a multivitamin over the course of the second two weeks.

    It is a good idea to mix up multivitamins. Not all are the same, and your body's nutritional needs change over time. Semi-regular changes in multivitamin formulas can help satisfy any low-level deficiencies that might otherwise accumulate.

    That is the philosophy I generally follow with multivitamins. I encourage you to read and learn as much as you can. The topic is immense. There is an unfortunate amount of bullshit in the field, but there is also plenty of good research.

When in doubt, mumble; when in trouble, delegate; when in charge, ponder. -- James H. Boren