Why Multivitamins Are Useless

Posted by on June 9, 2019 in Stuff with 0 Comments
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Multivitamin usage is a huge craze in the United States. According to Healthcare Weekly, a third of adults and a quarter of children take multivitamins. The practice of taking multivitamins is increasing every year. The number of supplements sold in the U.S. increased from 4,000 to 90,000 in the twenty-year period between 1994 and 2014.

More and more people are turning to multivitamins to cure various ailments and become more healthy.

However, there are some problems with this practice that are not being addressed enough. A lot of people have incorrect beliefs about the benefits of multivitamins. They see vitamins as a way to take treatment into their own hands without first talking to a doctor about their medical needs.

In order to better understand the specific benefits of multivitamins, let’s discuss what some multivitamin producers claim that their products can do and compare it to what real health studies have shown.

The Claim

The main benefit of multivitamin usage is to supplement the nutrients that we would otherwise get from our regular diet. Eating a well-rounded diet can be difficult. Some vitamins and nutrients are hard to find naturally in the food that we eat. This is a legit claim and some supplements are often recommended by doctors.

However, there are other more extreme claims that multivitamins can prevent various diseases and ailments. Some multivitamins claim to:

  • Reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Increase cognitive health
  • Prevent cancer
  • Prevent eye diseases
  • Lower blood pressure

The Proof

Cardiovascular Disease, Cancer, Eye Diseases

A study was conducted to evaluate the effects of long-term usage of a few supplements. This study specifically was looking for the effects of beta-carotene, vitamins E and C, and multivitamins on cancer, cardiovascular disease, and eye diseases like macular degeneration.

22,071 health U.S. men assigned a daily vitamin or a placebo to take regularly for 12 years. At the end of the study, they concluded that the vitamins showed no real harm or benefit on any of the three conditions that it was tested to prevent.

Cognitive Health

Another study was performed to measure the effects of regular vitamin usage with cognitive decline in older people. 5,947 participants age 65 or older received either a vitamin supplement or a placebo for 12 years.

Four interviews were given over the twelve year period to assess the mental function of participants. These interviews measured cognition, verbal memory, and category fluency. Participants were also required to fill out questionnaires about their experience yearly.

At the end of the testing period, it was found that there was no difference in the amount of cognitive change in people taking vitamins versus those that weren’t.

Lower Blood Pressure

The final study that we’ll reference in this article was done to test whether multivitamins would decrease blood pressure to help prevent cardiovascular disease. 160 females ages 50 and over and 76 males between ages 50 and 65 participated in the study. The study took place for 16 weeks and included a placebo group.

At the end of the study, no change in high blood pressure was found in either males nor females.

The Danger

Despite the fact that these claims are constantly debunked, companies keep producing multivitamins and marketing them as treatment. Consumers start taking these vitamins without doing any further research.

The more extreme claims of the benefits of multivitamins are the ones that pose the biggest threat. If someone believes that a multivitamin can lower their blood pressure and they switch from their medication to a multivitamin without consulting their doctor, it could lead to some serious health issues.

Not only is this person not taking their recommended medication anymore, but the supplement may negatively interact with another medication or supplement that they’re taking. Whenever you introduce a new medication or supplement into your healthcare regimen, it’s important to discuss it with a doctor.

If this continues, more people may start to lean on vitamins as a crutch instead of implementing a healthy lifestyle with a good diet and exercise regimen. In the case of diseases that are not related to diet and exercise, people may also try to self-medicate with vitamins without seeking the advice of a doctor.

23 million people in the US say that they use supplements instead of drugs, and another 30 million use them instead of medication. This mindset is dangerous to the health of these people.

It’s also important to recognize that new dietary supplements are not reviewed by the FDA before they’re marketed. Even after marketing, they can be reviewed and still be sold without approval. If manufacturers use a new ingredient, they must report it to the FDA so that they can review it for safety, but they don’t review it for effectiveness.

You really have no guarantee from health studies nor from government entities that multivitamins will benefit you in any way.

Really, the biggest benefit for people taking multivitamins is seen in people who are already healthy. Vitamins can help you better absorb the nutrients in your diet or fill gaps in your diet, but it will not prevent or cure any diseases or ailments. When you see claims like cancer prevention or benefits for people with cardiovascular disease, those claims are unfounded.

Conclusion

Most multivitamins boast of health benefits that they can’t actually provide. If you’re taking a multivitamin in hopes of gaining some minor health benefits, then they may serve you well. But, without a doubt, do not replace any medications or avoid trips to the doctor’s office because the vitamin bottle says that it will prevent illness.

If you have a health concern, talk to your doctor about it and discuss together if further action is required and what that action should be.

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