“The Multivitamin Myth”

About one-third of Americans routinely take multivitamins in the belief that they contribute to good health. The real concern is that people are wasting money on multivitamins that would better benefit their health if spent elsewhere. As Will Rogers said, “It’s about spending money you don’t have for something you don’t need.” Most experts seriously doubt the “claimed benefits” of these multivitamin supplements and they have found the harmful potential of many of them, including multivitamins. Cases in point, new studies have linked heavy multivitamin use to fatal prostate cancer, increased breast tissue density (associated with breast cancer), and increased allergies and asthma in children. Cancer experts say multivitamins are far less effective than a good diet, exercise and not smoking, each of which can lower cancer risk by 20% to 30%. Research has shown that the best way to obtain the nutrients and minerals you need is through food. When vitamins and minerals have been studied independent of a food, they don’t have the same benefit. Still, U.S. adults who regularly take multivitamins self-reported 30% better overall health than people who don’t use the supplements. However, a comprehensive medical history—assessing dozens of physical and mental illnesses—revealed zero actual health differences between people who did or did not take multivitamins. So, the effect seems to be a placebo or all in their head. Prior studies have found little evidence to support any benefit from multivitamins for an array of health problems ranging from heart disease to cancer.

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