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Conventional wisdom has long held that a taking a daily multivitamin can protect you against the ravages of an unhealthy diet. It seems to make sense, after all, that conveniently replacing what may be missing in your food with vitamin supplements will ensure that your health doesn’t suffer from too many burgers and fries. But, a new study suggests that you may not be getting what you bargained for.
Vitamin Supplement Study Results
Published in the June 2018 edition of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the study evaluated past research to determine if vitamins were effective in reducing cardiovascular disease and mortality. Researchers looked at a body of evidence from studies conducted worldwide between January 2012 and October 2017 to determine if common vitamin supplements were helping people reduce their risk of stroke, heart attack, and premature death.
The vitamins and minerals found in popular multivitamin tablets — A, B1, B2, B6, B9, niacin, folic acid, C, D, E, beta-carotene, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium and selenium — were carefully studied for their effects on health and surprisingly, no evidence was found to suggest that the most common vitamin supplements — multivitamins, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, and calcium — are beneficial.
The study did find that folic acid alone or in combination with other B-vitamins may reduce the risk of stroke, while niacin and antioxidant supplements were associated with an increased risk of death. Dr. David Jenkins, the study’s lead researcher, emphasizes that using vitamin supplements recommended by your doctor for a deficiency or to manage a specific health risk is important, but that they are otherwise not necessary.
Knowing When You Have A Vitamin Deficiency
Vitamins and minerals are essential for good health and while deficiencies were once common, they are now rare in the United States. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that most adult Americans may not be getting enough of vitamins A, C, D, and E as well as calcium, potassium, and magnesium, but their experts emphasize that these nutrients are best absorbed by the body in food, not vitamin supplements.
If you suspect you may have a vitamin deficiency, talk to your doctor. Testing is simple and will result in the best treatment. Many deficiencies are caused by problems within the body that prevent nutrients from being absorbed and may not reflect something missing in your diet. Treatment for these issues typically requires special forms of vitamins that may need to be administered by injection or intravenously.
Are Multivitamins A Good Insurance Policy Against Vitamin Deficiency?
Your doctor can help you decide if taking a multivitamin is a good idea. Patients who are pregnant or at high risk of nutritional deficiencies because of illness may benefit from supplementation, but excessive levels of certain vitamins can be harmful.
This most recent study is clear that vitamin supplements are unlikely to contribute to your overall health and they certainly have no power to prevent heart disease. Yet, it has started an important conversation about the importance of nutrition and eating a balanced diet. Your health is important, but ultimately, the best way to use your hard-earned money to improve your wellbeing may be to visit your supermarket’s produce section, not the supplement aisle.