Enough Is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

Posted 13 January 2016

This editorial published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, and titled, Enough Is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements, makes the point that studies show that there is  no clear evidence of a beneficial effect of supplements on all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, or cancer, that a study conducted for 12 years, found no differences between the multivitamin and placebo groups in overall cognitive performance or verbal memory, and a study evaluating the potential benefits of a high-dose, 28-component multivitamin supplement with a previous heart attack, found that there was no significant difference in recurrent cardiovascular events with multivitamins compared with placebo.

Other reviews and guidelines that have appraised the role of vitamin and mineral supplements in primary or secondary prevention of chronic disease have consistently found null results or possible harms. Evidence involving tens of thousands of people randomly assigned in many clinical trials shows that β-carotene, vitamin E, and possibly high doses of vitamin A supplements increase mortality and that other antioxidants, folic acid and B vitamins, and multivitamin supplements have no clear benefit.

The authors conclude:

Although available evidence does not rule out small benefits or harms or large benefits or harms in a small subgroup of the population, 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. These vitamins should not be used for chronic disease prevention. Enough is enough.

Read the full editorial

Guallar E, Stranges S, Mulrow C, Appel LJ, Miller ER 3rd. Enough is enough: Stop wasting money on vitamin and mineral supplements.  Ann Intern Med. 2013 Dec 17;159(12):850-1. 

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