Multivitamins Are No Use?

Multivitamins Are No Use?

Major new studies on multivitamins suggest they are no use to those who already have a reasonable diet, and this is not good news for an industry worth $30 billion a year.

Recent scholarly articles that have appeared in the pages of Annals of Internal Medicine, have made it clear, unless you have been tested by a doctor and been shown to be short of micronutrients, taking more will have no effect on your health. Indeed, there is also no evidence to suggest that vitamins prevent or mitigate chronic illnesses of any kind. In the over 65 age group, taking multivitamins does nothing to prevent loss of memory or other mental functions, and in other studies that included up to 400,000 people, no improvement in health was found with multivitamins.

Worst of all, it has been suggested that taking too much beta-carotene, and vitamins A and E, may actually do harm.

These results are not even particularly new; similar studies to this have conducted before and found little or no value in multivitamins, but these studies were the largest and most detailed yet. The reality is that although these substances are needed to be healthy, but most modern diets include enough of them that taking more adds no value. What is more, if a diet is so poor that these supplements are needed, the likely tertiary effects of the poor diet will significantly outweigh the benefits of taking the vitamins anyway.

This is significant news when one considers that half of all US adults use supplements each day.

Is it final then that multivitamins are of no use? Actually, no.

Many people do in fact have to deal with long-term illnesses that leave them only able to eat small amounts of soft foods. In these cases, multivitamins are important as a food supplement. Also those who are habituated to not eat fruit or vegetables can benefit from them, but are likely to face significant other health issues. Children who are “finicky” eaters have also shown a benefit from the supplements, but parents are encouraged to find a way around the fussiness. Another group is the elderly, who, out of difficulty with shopping trips, or forgetfulness, may end up eating unbalanced diets several days a week.

Vitamin B-12 is still essential for vegans and many vegetarians, as this is only found in animal foods and is essential for blood and nerve cells. Iron supplements are important for the anemic, or a diet heavy with meat and beans is necessary. Vitamin D is important if it is impossible to get a few minutes of sun each day, or for babies who only consume breast milk.

It may also be important for expecting mother to takes vitamins as this helps in early development. Although a balanced diet, despite food urges, should also be maintained. Indeed, folic acid is extremely important in the first stages of pregnancy as this has been demonstrated to help prevent certain diseases.

Multivitamins cannot ultimately be discarded as no use, but they are currently consumed at a rate that far outweighs their benefits.

By Andrew Willig

Annals of Internal Medicine
USA Today
The Globe and Mail

29 Responses to "Multivitamins Are No Use?"

  1. UnfrozenCavemanMD   January 20, 2014 at 6:54 am

    Sorry, I left a comment on this article by mistake, (instead of an article on San Francisco open in another window). Please delete it! Thanks!

  2. UnfrozenCavemanMD   January 20, 2014 at 6:50 am

    The author writes, “Google has a perception problem in San Francisco that it’s driving some of the city’s problems (like its rising rent).” Rising rent means that San Francisco is becoming more valuable as a place to live. This is a problem? On my home planet, making real estate more valuable is considered an improvement, and a sign of regional economic vigor.

    It is much, much easier to solve the “problem” of rising real estate values than it is to cause it. Look at Detroit. Let crime run rampant. Hand over the city’s finances to the public employee unions. While you’re at it, destroy the schools, pollute the water, stop collecting trash. This will have the benefit of causing rents to plummet. San Francisco will become an affordable place for every drooling leftist barbarian in California to live at public expense.

  3. Sebastiaan Koning   January 19, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    LS! I have been a researcher since 2013. Ever since 1991 when Walter Heinrichs showed in a meta analysis that 90% of research into schizophrenia (my area of expertise) was not properly done, I often read high percentages of studies into food and health were not done properly. In The Economist, a reliable source, an article appeared: Has Science Gone Wrong? About 75% of research of landmark studies in disciplines like biogenetics or computerscience is not replicable, say lies to get some money. Research is usually based on a body of literature or on previous research, and the proven fact is there that scientists are unable to recognize what is correct or not correct. Logic has it that the above statements are probably nonsense. Besides in my view advantages or disadvantages of non toxic substances like vitamines, should be measured over several generations, before we are able to have defintive conclusions. No, I am not proud of my profession, maybe I will switch to being a specialist in Buddhist art. Warm wishes!

    • doovinator   January 19, 2014 at 10:51 pm

      scientific survey: looking for a predetermined result and adding fudge factors until you get it.

  4. Joseph   January 19, 2014 at 10:20 pm

    Like John , I too was recovering…I was always getting everyone’s cold and I had a hard time recovering, I was getting sick of being sick and decided to try the muti-vitmn approach …seems everyone around me gets the cold ….but I’ve stayed cold free for about six years now, hut-chew to you mad science experts and hurray to me and multi-vitamins.

  5. Zach Mescher   January 19, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    Tell that to Bodybuilders. I lift 5 days a week, without my multivitamins I lack the pure energy that comes with the multivitamins that I take. Sure I take protein, ZMA and other supplements but those are recovery agents.

  6. Russell “Richfield Russ” Utoft   January 19, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    I have taken vitamins for 60 years. I don’t know if they help or not. I think there is only one way to really tell is when you die. Do a complete autopsy on a body of a person that have taken them all there life to a person that has not. Same age group.

  7. Sdb   January 19, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    These studies hide the real agenda; The FDA wants to regulate the supplement industry- look into it- and who funds these studies? as others said, results depend on quality of vitamins to absorb nutrients- plus pharma does have vested interest in seeing supplement industry weakened- they have lots of lobbying $ to influence government. Very misleading studies for sure-

  8. Richard Stephen   January 19, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    From there website: Annals of Internal Medicine’s publisher, the American College of Physicians (, is the largest medical specialty organization and the second-largest physician group in the United States. ACP members include 132,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internists specialize in the prevention, detection, and treatment of illness in adults.

    Does anyone here see anything to do with nutrition and diet? These are doctors who learn almost nothing about diet and claim to have the key to health. Check your sources carefully folks, there is always a vested interest behind them.

  9. Greg   January 19, 2014 at 8:21 pm

    I take a multi twice a week. Screw these “studies”. Who trusts this crap anymore? Everyday conflicting BS.

  10. shanna   January 19, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    Ah, studies. One will come out in a few years saying completely the opposite of this one.

  11. Jerms   January 19, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    I stopped taking vitamins the moment I saw the rich, high quality pee it was making. Vitamins=BS.

    • mellisamcjunkin   January 19, 2014 at 8:57 pm

      There is a myth that people believe about their urine. First of all for anything to even be detected in your urine means that it has circulated through your blood system. The body has a way of extracted what it needs and excreeting what it does not. Not some big hoax. Just a medical fact. Many people believe if the have yellow urine from taking vitamin, they must have expensive pee. That’s just silly. The yellow tint tells you two things: 1) you are not consuming enough water and 2) it is the pigment in Vitamin B2 that the body does not need. The rest of the vitamins are absorbed and used appropriately.

    • wow   January 19, 2014 at 8:58 pm

      It’s obvious you never took any time to read into what was actually happening in that case. Just to give you a head start, yes, there are excess amounts of water soluble vitamins in almost all supplements, mainly because activity level and other factors tend to determine how much of these water soluble vitamins a given individual needs. Fat soluble vitamins, on the other hand, are not excreted in this manner (stored as fatty acids in the liver in cases of overdose) and are generally more targeted to what a normal, active person needs to be at an optimal level of health.

      TL;DR version: Stop whining about neon yellow piss. It’s B12, and about a penny per kilogram.

  12. J Beck   January 19, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    Curious to know if the studies were conducted with synthetically manufactured multivitamin or an all natural product? Huge difference from what I researched.

  13. Angi Gray   January 19, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    I figured this put years ago. Our family eats a diet with plenty fruits, veggies, meat, and grains. Occasionally I check what vitamins are in what to refresh my memory and make any needed adjustments. And for the person poo-pooing the vitimin D thing: 15 mins 3 days a week is sufficient (and it works for breastfed babies just fine, using indirect sunlight). If you are terribly concerned about vitimin D, eat mushrooms.

  14. Slim Pickins   January 19, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    We have had a garden for years, grow and eat our own produce and enjoy cooking at home, all of which promotes awareness of balance in our diet. We both took multivitamins for many years but now have decided, with our primary’s supportive advice to stop. Its no loss other than having to get used to one less bottle to shake. The gain is the reward of knowing that for all these years we did a good job of taking care of ourselves as best we knew how, then and now. “Waste not, want not” is the explanation for finishing off my multivitamin bottle: to my knowledge no ones ever croaked from an overdose of multivitamins. The take-away here is to trust your own judgement and conviction to stay healthy. Its just nice when the views of the AMA happily coincide with your own….

  15. Hector Yanez   January 19, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    this is bull,

  16. Jmedia   January 19, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    So basically multivitamins are of no use except to those who need them.

  17. beloysky   January 19, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    Pfizer made this!!!!!!

    • Zach Mescher   January 19, 2014 at 9:54 pm

      LMAO, best comment on this thread

  18. Gene Levin   January 19, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    If this author thinks you get Vitamin D from “a few minutes of sun”, he must live in Key West.

  19. S K (@Sonicon)   January 19, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    So what percentage of the world population eats a healthy balanced diet everyday? or even 5 times a week? I sure don’t.

  20. Herman Rutner   January 19, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    Multis not effective is scaremongering pharma hype to boost Rx sales to healthier folk no longer flocking into drs offices. And these studies are funded by pharmas with vested interests not the FDA or supplement peddlers, hence are obviously designed and executed to please the sponsors. Just ignore these biased findings and keep on taking them if they seem to improve the quailty of life without serious side effects that are common seen with many Rx drugs.

    • jiw71   January 19, 2014 at 7:15 pm

      says the multi vitamin employee

    • John B   January 19, 2014 at 8:01 pm

      Exactly right. In one article they say that vitamins don’t work and then say that they do for those that need them. Well, as it turns out, we all need them. I don’t know anyone that has the time to eat a balanced diet, and most people wouldn’t even know what a balanced diet is. The other issue is that the food we eat is not as nutritious as it once was due to poor farming practices.

      I used to spend most of the year either sick or recovering from being sick. I was eating pretty well too, didn’t help. After doing some research I decided to try adding a good quality multi-vitamin to my diet, not the crappy one-a-day stuff, but a high quality vitamin. Viola! No more getting sick, no more wasted time. Even when there is someone in the house with a cold, I stay well.

      You really have to consider the source of these studies, they have a vested interest in keeping you sick.

  21. wayne   January 19, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    Be honest. Who actually eats a balanced diet everyday;except for vegans.

    • Jason Christianson   January 19, 2014 at 7:10 pm

      Vegans??? Seriously??? Anemic and unbalanced dietary nourishment, at best!!

      • Grant McAuley   January 19, 2014 at 7:38 pm

        @Jason, You might want to google eg, ‘Mac Danzig’.


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