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Do Multivitamins Help?

December 22, 2013
Plain English Version

If you are taking a multivitamin because it makes you feel better to be taking a multivitamin that is one thing.

If you are taking a multivitamin for a healthier heart or better cognitive functioning that is another thing.

According to two recent studies, multivitamins in healthy people do not accomplish anything. They do not add to cardio health or brain function.

Authors of an article on multivitamins said, “The message is simple: Most supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death, their use is not justified, and they should be avoided.”

They added that beta-carotene, vitamin E and high doses of vitamin A increased the risk of death in some trials.

The vitamin industry does not agree. Spokesman for a trade group said that people do not get enough nutrients from their diets. Multivitamins and supplements are a low-cost solution.

One study was of physicians 65 years of age or older. It found no change in cognitive ability over the 12 years of the study. Another study was of patients over 50 who had a recent heart attack. The study showed that the multivitamins did not reduce the chance of dying or other heart problems.

One author of the physician study said she was disappointed by the results. She said studies of people with poorer education or poorer diets could produce different results. Another author said, “We are not taking care of patients with nutritional deficiencies. I have never seen a patient with scurvy or beriberi.”

Experts say multivitamins have worked in malnourished groups in Africa and Asia.

Pfizer is a huge drug company. It said multivitamins such as Centrum Silver are meant to help people fill dietary gaps. They are also meant for people who are not eating enough healthy food. They are not meant to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.

Source: The Wall Street Journal                                                                                                        December 16, 2013

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