Nearly 40% of American adults regularly take a multivitamin/mineral supplement, spending billions of dollars every year. If you are one of them, are you getting your money’s worth? Most recent studies, including two that were published in the journal, Annals of Internal Medicine in December, would suggest not. Neither study found any benefit nor in fact an editorial published along with the articles proclaimed, “Enough is enough; Stop wasting money on vitamin and mineral supplements.” In February, the U.S. Public Health Services Task Force, an independent group of health care experts who develop recommendations for primary care physicians and health systems, reported that there is not enough evidence to recommend for or against the used of multivitamin/mineral supplements. Stephen Fortmann, MD, of the Kaiser Center of Health Research, lead author of the report, was quoted in the New York Times as saying that consumers may be ‘throwing their money away.” And some studies have not only shown no benefit, but potential harm from multis.
Based on the current information, you should obviously stop wasting money by purchasing supplements, right? To quote a popular college football analyst, “not so fast my friend.” According to the Harvard School of Public Health’s online resource, the Nutrition Source, http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/, a daily multi might be beneficial. They agree of course that the best way to meet your nutrient need is to eat a healthy well balanced diet but for those who don’t, a multi can help fill in the gaps. As far as that study suggests this increased the risk. The Nutrition Source stated that those studies were flawed; looking at all of the evidence, the potential health benefits of taking a standard multivitamin seem to outweigh the risks. In addition, in the May 2014 issue of the University of California Wellness Letter, it was mentioned that several groups of people including women who may get pregnant, pregnant or breastfeeding women, strict vegetarians, and people on prolonged low calorie diets would likely benefit by taking a multivitamin.
If you chose to take one, the Wellness Letter say that it need not cost more than a few cents a day. Store brand and generics are usually as reliable as brand name products. For added insurance look for supplements that are USP Verified (see the graphic below). When it comes to vitamins and minerals, more is not better. Look for one that keeps to around 100% of the RDA’s a wide variety of vitamins and minerals.