Major scientific reviews show no clear benefits for people regularly taking vitamin and mineral supplements. The long list of negative findings in many research studies has prompted a call that Enough-is-Enough. Authorities and medical advisors should take action to prevent people wasting their money for no benefits and potentially harming themselves.
Supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death except when there is clear evidence of nutrient deficiencies, dietary restrictions or illness. On the other hand there IS clear evidence that moderate to high doses of some micro-nutrients ARE harmful (for example beta-carotene, vitamin E, and possibly vitamin A.
If people suspect that they are not getting all the nutrients they need in the food they eat - the fix is to improve their diet - not to pop a high-dose supplements pill, everyday, just in case. Choosing nutrient-rich foods with high and diverse nutrients per calorie is the key to getting a balanced nutrition.
This article reviews the mounting evidence that supplements are not needed and that all the advertising hype is unproven.
► Start each day with a wholesome breakfast that includes whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy for calcium and vitamin D, and vitamin C-rich foods such as fresh fruit, juices and smoothies.
► Replace refined grains and flours with whole grains and flours like whole-grain breads and cereals and brown rice.
► Washed and sliced salad greens, fruit and vegetables make simple easy meals or snacks. These foods are better than baked goods.
► Eat fresh, frozen or canned fruit (without added sugar) for snacks and desserts.
► Include at least two servings of omega-3 rich seafood per week.
► Eat more beans and pulses, which are rich in fiber and folate.
► Generally follow the Mediterranean diet
A major review of three trials of multivitamin supplements and 24 trials of single or paired vitamins that involved more than 400,000 participants, concluded that there was no clear evidence of a beneficial effect of supplements on cardiovascular disease, all-cause mortality. There was borderline evidence of a small benefit associated with cancer in men.
Another study examined whether vitamin supplements were beneficial in slowing cognitive decline in about 6000 men older than 65 years over a 12 year period.
There was no evidence of any benefit for overall cognitive performance or verbal memory tests. Multivitamin supplements taken by elderly people with a good general diet, did not prevent cognitive decline.
Another study look at possible benefits of taking supplements, such as vitamin E, vitamin C and B complex vitamins (including folate) and omega-3 fatty acids, for persons with mild to moderate dementia. None of the supplements improved cognitive function in these people.
Another further examined whether people who had existing heart problems benefited from taking a high-dose, 28-component multivitamin supplement.However, no significant differences were found with those taking the supplements or a placebo over a 5-year period.
Other studies, involving more than 10,000 people randomly assigned to many clinical trials shows that beta-carotene, vitamin E, and possibly high doses of vitamin A supplements were harmful and actually increase mortality.
Despite numerous studies, there is no reliable evidence that taking routine doses of multivitamins and minerals has nay benefits and people should be made aware of these conclusions, especially when the negative effects of some vitamins has been proven.