Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Medicine Science

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."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

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

Comments Filter:
  • by jaymz666 (34050) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @06:10PM (#45719373)

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

    • 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.
      YMMV.

      • 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.

        • source? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by globaljustin (574257) <justinglobal@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> 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

          • Re:source? (Score:5, Informative)

            by pepty (1976012) on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @12:30AM (#45722639)

            Salt is iodized.

            Folic acid is added to bread, cereals, flour, etc.

            Vitamin C is added to juice, along with most other things marketed to kids.

            Niacin is added to bread.

            Vitamin D and calcium are added to milk and other dairy products.

            Cereals (especially sugary ones marketed to kids) are usually fortified with a dozen vitamins and minerals.

            You probably won't end up with a vitamin deficiency from eating junk food so long as you don't eat the same few junk foods exclusively. What you'll end up with is a diet with way too much of the wrong stuff.

      • by cayenne8 (626475) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @06:36PM (#45719691) Homepage Journal

        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.

        Try this...

        Try dedicating some Sundays, to cooking...do it for the week. I often cook 2-3 main dishes, maybe 2-3 sides...or one thing I like, is to grill a bunch of stuff, meats, veggies and just bag them. Then during the week, you can put them together in quick and interesting ways for lunches and dinners all week long.

        Say you make up some hummus, and grill some veggies (eggplant, zucchini, onions, etc) and some chicken. A quick week night meal, is get some pita bread, spread on some hummus, and the veggies and chicken and there ya go. Next night, make a quick salad, throw in grilled, marinated veggies and whatever..etc. Doing stuff like that works well and make for easy throw together meals all week long (and lunches). I'd much rather do this than eat fast food, eat better, and with the money you save, treat yourself out every once in awhile to a finer dining experience, and get out and meet some girls. Do this...and then cook for them at your home, etc. All pluses!!

        But I digress....cooking and eating this way cheaper and more nutritional, and hey..is kinda fun to spend a sunday with a couple of cocktails, throw on some tunes or some TV in the background and cook a bit.

        One thing you might try too, is check the grocery store ads in your town, and see what's on sale and plan to cook around that. This way, you save money AND, most importantly, it keeps you from getting in a rut of cooking and eating the same thing day after day after day....

        • That is just not going to happen.
          From time to time I get out my slow cooker, and make up a batch of stew, or split pea soup, but mostly I just couldn't be bothered.
        • 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.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Welcome to Slashdot, where anecdotes and the placebo effect are accepted forms of scientific data. Please check your scientific literacy at the door.
      • by Barlo_Mung_42 (411228) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @06:50PM (#45719855) Homepage

        The study isn't saying people didn't feel better. Just that it didn't help any more than a placebo. So you need to have a neighbor or someone administer them blindly and mix in fake pills and see if you notice a difference.

        Also, if multivitamins helped, imagine how you would feel doing something with a ton of positive peer reviewed data backing it up, like eating a well balanced diet.

      • by nblender (741424) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @07:26PM (#45720293)

        I don't really mean to life-coach you or anything but the benefits you will reap from learning how to cook and cooking your own meals is enormous. Not only will you be healthier, but you will meet eligible mates at the grocery store; and you will find yourself more interesting to potential mates if you can invite them over and make an absolutely amazing meal... My dad taught me how to cook and I'm now the creative cook in the family... My son has been helping to cook since he was 8 and now that he's 12, he is in charge of one meal every week. He makes things like schnitzel, pork roast, chilli, lasagna, stroganoff, etc...

         

    • SHHHH! Case closed! Stop asking questions.

    • by gandhi_2 (1108023)

      Oh, yeah in those cases they are helpful. Or in cases where people's habits leave certain vitamins and minerals out. But never mind that. Just pay attention to my edgy new study and talk-show appearances.

      • by Frobnicator (565869) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @06:41PM (#45719761) Journal

        Oh, yeah in those cases they are helpful. Or in cases where people's habits leave certain vitamins and minerals out. But never mind that. Just pay attention to my edgy new study and talk-show appearances.

        As is frequently the case, the article is misleading and misinterpreting the scientists.

        Also just like /. tends to do, the linked news article headline is sensationalized and exists just to get people to read the story.

        The scientists talk about three specific things: (1) Preventing chronic disease, including heart disease and cancer, (2) preventing cognitive decline in seniors, and (3) high-dose pills to prevent subsequent events after a confirmed heart attack.

        For those three specific things, multiple studies show they do not provide statistically significant benefits. They found that high doses of specific nutrients could slightly increase the risk of certain cancers in people pre-disposed to them, which is why they recommended against the multivitamins for those in good health.

        Note that also in TFA they agree that there are some health benefits in specific cases. These include vitamin D in the elderly for bone strength, iron and folic acid for pregnant and nursing mothers (and in unrelated studies elsewhere, also in men wanting children), those with poor nutrition, and for other specific situations.

        Note that the studies do not say multivitamins are worthless, nor does it address any other health areas except those three. That is just the headline sensationalism.

        • Note that the studies do not say multivitamins are worthless

          exactly

          in TFA summary "chronic disease" jumped out at me...that's a pretty high bar for ***anything known to medical science*** to hit, and no one ever really claimed that multivitamins would just flat prevent cancer.

          it seems like TFA wants to beg the question...but we can't let the researchers off the hook either...they *chose* the language and 3 categories

          (1) Preventing chronic disease, including heart disease and cancer, (2) preventing cognitive

          • 'in TFA summary "chronic disease" jumped out at me...that's a pretty high bar for ***anything known to medical science*** to hit, and no one ever really claimed that multivitamins would just flat prevent cancer.'

            Nuts.
            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24256379 [nih.gov]

            "In two large, independent cohorts of nurses and other health professionals, the frequency of nut consumption was inversely associated with total and cause-specific mortality, independently of other predictors of death. (Funded by the National Institut

    • by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @06:21PM (#45719503)

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

      Reduce funding to supplimental assistance, call them lazy, imply that obesity and poor health is a moral failing, and that prayer is an effective medical treatment.

      Duh... what are you, some kind of non-american? :/

    • 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 vidnet (580068) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @06:26PM (#45719563) Homepage

        A $12 bottle of multivitamins every two months is a heck of a lot cheaper than fresh produce

        You're saying that as if the two are in any way equivalent.

        • 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 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....

        • by Fjandr (66656) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @07:10PM (#45720087) Homepage Journal

          They're conflating "cheaper" with "requires not being lazy."

        • by msobkow (48369)

          $150 a month has to cover stuff like deodorant, razor blades, shaving cream, toothpaste, mouth wash, and food. That's $5/day, not $4/meal as one of the posters higher up had commented about McTesticles. And realistically, the food budget works out to about $120 after those "incidentals", leaving $4/day.

        • by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @08:37PM (#45721073)

          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.

          There is no such thing as equal availability of food in the US. Please read up on the Supermarket Gap [wikipedia.org] and how it affects the diets of the urban poor and minority areas:

          Studies show that cost is the most significant predictor of dietary choices, so healthy eating is especially difficult for the poor, for whom healthier foods are generally unaffordable.[4] Meanwhile, supermarkets generally provide food at cheaper prices than the bodegas and pharmacies that service inner-city areas. A study that compared supermarkets, neighborhood groceries, convenience stores, and health food stores in San Diego, California found that supermarkets had twice the average number of 'heart-healthy' foods compared to neighborhood grocery stores and four times the average number of such foods compared to convenience stores.[5] In many American cities, an urban grocery gap has caused a lack of access to healthy foods, high prices for the healthy foods that are available, and the health problems that result from an unhealthy diet.

        • by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @09:02PM (#45721317) Homepage

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

          the united states.

          A meal of fresh fruits and veggies plus protien = $4.50
          A meal of Ramen noodles = $0.39
          A meal of a hot dog cut up in the mac and cheese = $1.20

          nearly 40% of Americans cant even afford the luxury meal of the hot dog in mac and cheese.

          I am guessing you have zero idea as to what reality is for the bulk of the population, over 50% of your fellow Americans can not afford to eat healthy and a balanced diet.

    • by tibit (1762298)

      Yes, especially that many modern "diets" are anything but balanced.

    • by ADRA (37398)

      Yes, be the point is that those that eat healthy don't need multi-vitamins, and people that do need more balanced diets aren't buying them. So they service a market that doesn't exist.

      • by gfxguy (98788)
        I don't believe that's true... my doctor told me to stop taking multivitamins because a study showed they actually lead to shorter life expectancy. After I left the office it struck me that it's more likely to be correlation - unhealthy people who don't eat right and don't exercise enough (or at all) take multivitamins to "compensate." If I'm right, those people might still be extending their lifetimes - just not as much as people who eat right and exercise.
    • by jaymz666 (34050)

      I bet the news of this study causes more harm than good. The takeaway many will have is that multi vitamins don't help anyone. When they clearly serve a purpose for those stuck on the fast food treadmill

      • by cayenne8 (626475)

        I bet the news of this study causes more harm than good. The takeaway many will have is that multi vitamins don't help anyone. When they clearly serve a purpose for those stuck on the fast food treadmill

        Well, in that case, kind of a moot point.

        If you're "stuck on the fast food treadmill", you've got bigger health problems ahead that no amount of vitamin supplements are going to help with....

    • I am of two minds on this...

      Even though the US diet isn't that great many of the diseases that were fairly common during the depression era are no longer that common. My dad knew of many kids that had rickets, and I have never known, or even heard of, a modern case.

      I think, however, that many of the people that are taking vitamins, or even think that they are taking them (e.g. the placebo vs vitamin study) may become a little more health conscience and make it a point to eat their veggies.

    • by edibobb (113989)
      That's what Flintstones Chewables are for.
    • Like the overwhelming majority of Americans, a not insignificant amount of Europeans, and most everyone in the developing world...
    • by jedidiah (1196)

      ...which is probably everyone.

      I can't imagine that everyone here in the peanut gallery doesn't have some sort of vitamin deficiency. Let's go with Vitamin-E for starters. Do you know if you get enough? Would you know what to eat to get more?

      More than anything, this makes it sound like the RDA numbers are a fiction.

      Extra vitamins don't help? Then whatever bad diets we all eat must be all hunky dory then...

  • "Well Nourished" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @06:10PM (#45719379) Homepage Journal

    No kidding.. but for those that are not, ( which is a LOT of people.. ) vitamins can help.

    • by jaymz666 (34050) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @06:17PM (#45719465)

      exactly.

      The qualifier is stupid. If you are well nourished you don't need to supplement anything. But if you aren't lucky enough to be able to have the time to prepare your own perfect meal every day, then you may need something.

    • These were enormous, decade-long studies. The qualifier is perhaps a poor description -- vitamins offer no benefits outside specific, diagnosed vitamin deficiencies. So unless you think every one of the 100,000 nurses ate properly, yes, they are indeed saying your McDonald's and hot dog and macaroni and cheese diet is fine (vitamin-wise).

      No differences in disease onset betweem the two groups, ergo useless. This is also how they fpund out silicone breast implants were actually safe, in spite of fraudulent

    • Perhaps a little. Any positive effect is far outweighed by the negative effect of too much fat, sugar, sodium etc that is in a typical bad diet. Trying to fix it with a multi vitamin is just delusional thinking.

  • by turkeydance (1266624) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @06:11PM (#45719381)
    is nothing sacred?
  • terrible title (Score:4, Informative)

    by larry bagina (561269) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @06:15PM (#45719429) Journal

    Not slashdot's fault, this time. The real conclusion is that multivitamins don't cure heart disease. But who takes them to cure heart disease?

    My rock might be useless at keeping tigers away but it's useful for throwing at glass houses.

  • by QilessQi (2044624) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @06:19PM (#45719479)

    In my opinion, the best way to make an informed choice about supplements is to have your doctor do blood work when you get a physical exam (which you should be doing yearly once you hit middle age). Labs can test for key things like iron, B vitamins, vitamin D, etc.

    Your doctor can then ask you questions to help interpret the results. If your D is low, do you get a lot of sunlight or do you spend most of your time indoors? If your iron is low, do you feel tired or mostly energetic? What sorts of things do you eat?

    Based on that personalized information, supplements or other dietary/lifestyle changes can improve your health, certainly far more than grabbing a random bottle of multivitamins at GNC.

    • by dave562 (969951)

      Exactly! Well deserved +5 on this. I started getting blood tests when I hit thirty and made a few adjustments to my supplements and diet. I was having serious muscle spasms / cramps that I thought was related to sciatica. It turned out being a magnesium deficiency. I suffered for almost two years with something that was solved after literally 48 hours of supplementation.

      I was also iodine deficient due to our culture of "salt is bad". I had to supplement iodine and started salting some of my meals. A

  • 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 vux984 (928602)

      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.

      Since this is /. here's a car analogy:

      My car is pulling to the left, because the wheels aren't balanced, what do I do?

      a) Add a spring to your steering column to push right by about the same amount the car is pulling to the left, to balance it out. (take pill supplements)

      b) BALANCE YOUR FUCKING WHEELS YOU FUCKWIT (ie correct your diet)

      If you have some genuine conditio

  • by sandytaru (1158959) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @06:19PM (#45719493) Journal
    I felt like crap last winter and it turns out my Vitamin D level was on the floor (after extensive blood tests determined it was not thyroid problems or cancer. Thank goodness.) For geeks who don't go outside and prefer the dungeon/basement lifestyle, a 1000 mg dose of Vitamin D daily can be a godsend. (I was prescribed 10 minutes of daily sunshine at first, too.)

    I also donate platelets regularly, and prior to a stint on the chair there I munch on some calcium chews, because otherwise I'll experience a total calcium crash from the citrate and pass out.

    So while it's okay to stop wasting your money on multi-vitamins, it's important to know how your body responds to both long and short term situations and have the appropriate supplement on hand.
    • For geeks who don't go outside and prefer the dungeon/basement lifestyle, a 1000 mg dose of Vitamin D daily can be a godsend.

      You must mean 1000 IU of vitamin D. That is about a typical dose.

      For vitamin D, 1 IU is the biological equivalent of 0.025 micro-grams cholecalciferol/ergocalciferol.

  • Golden rice is genetically modified to include Vitamin A. There are plenty of people dying from a lack of vitamins.

    "The research was conducted with the goal of producing a fortified food to be grown and consumed in areas with a shortage of dietary vitamin A, a deficiency which is estimated to kill 670,000 children under the age of 5 each year"

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_rice [wikipedia.org]
     

  • Based on how much excess nutrition is flushed down the toilet. The human body is supremely adaptable - feed it too little of a nutrient and the digestive system will increase the absorption rate of that nutrient. Feed it to much and the nutrient will pass through the system and out to the world, hopefully to another organism who actually needs it.
  • "Case closed"? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mi (197448) <slashdot-2012@virtual-estates.net> on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @06:32PM (#45719641) Homepage

    Though I've suspected the "multi-vitamins" myself for a while, I'm wary of any claims about "case closed" or "the science is settled"...

  • Not all "vitamins" are equal. For one thing, Recommended Daily Allowances are set to prevent known diseases: e.g., if you don't have scurvy, establishment medicine says you must be getting enough vitamin C. Rarely is research done to discover an optimum level of supplementation. So studies that involve giving people the RDA or a little more aren't as dispositive as they might be.

    Second, vitamins vary in quality. Cheapo supermarket multivitamins might have the same quantities listed on the label as something

  • Sure (Score:5, Funny)

    by nospam007 (722110) * on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @06:40PM (#45719741)

    "doctors behind three new studies ..."

    Doctors? Who cares what doctors say, what does Jenny McCarthy say?

    • by Desler (1608317)

      It's even funnier to hear how this is supposedly some sort of big Pharma conspiracy. Big Pharma companies sell billions in vitamin supplements every year. So in fact big Pharma would be against someone saying that multivitamins don't provide any benefit.

  • I would not care about such biased research in an actually free country where I can purchase and consume whatever vitamins and supplements I wish. But in a country on its way to government controlled medicine and with a powerful FDA this could doom me to "officially approved" opinions in this and other medical manners. I took the time to find a good longevity research group that did substantial over time blood work and other testing regarding recommended supllementation. The end experiential result is th

  • Look around you if you are in the US. How many "well nourished adults" do you see? Well fed yes but that is not at all the same thing. Go to your average grocery story and count the number of isles and what percentage of them contain actual food, much less healthy food. People generally are not well nourished in the US. Also it is a known fact that various micro-nutrients, hormones, types of nutrient uptake and so on deteriorate as we age, starting about at a bit after 40 for most people. Note, the

All warranty and guarantee clauses become null and void upon payment of invoice.

Working...