If you are one of millions of Americans who purchase vitamin and mineral supplements for health and longevity, you may be interested to learn that according to a new study… you may want to stop.
There are many commonly used vitamin supplements such as multi-vitamins, claiming to provide a person with the daily recommended nutrients needed for optimal health and wellness. But, according to a new study led by researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital & University of Toronto, most commonly used vitamin and mineral supplements, “provide no consistent health benefits.”
The study, published in June 2018 in the American College of Cardiology, involved a systematic review of clinical trials from 2012 to 2017. The study authors evaluated health outcomes (such as cardiovascular disease and other causes of mortality [illness]), for those who took various vitamin and mineral supplements. The review results concluded that the multivitamins, including vitamin D, calcium and vitamin C — the most common supplements for many people – had no advantage in preventing cardiovascular disease risk, heart attack or stroke risk, or in increasing a person’s lifespan.
Some of the supplements in the study were even found to add a higher risk in the prevention of disease and premature death.
Vitamin and mineral supplements are intended to be an adjunct therapy to ingesting nutrients from food. “We were surprised to find so few positive effects of the most common supplements that people consume,” said Dr. David Jenkins*, the study’s lead author. “Our review found that if you want to use multivitamins, vitamin D, calcium or vitamin C, it does no harm — but there is no apparent advantage either.”
One supplement found to add health benefits, namely, in reducing cardiovascular disease and stroke, was a B-vitamin with folic acid. Niacin (another B vitamin) and antioxidant supplements were found to slightly increase the risk of death—from any cause.
“These findings suggest that people should be conscious of the supplements they’re taking and ensure they’re applicable to the specific vitamin or mineral deficiencies they have been advised of by their healthcare provider,” Dr. Jenkins said.
“In the absence of significant positive data — apart from folic acid’s potential reduction in the risk of stroke and heart disease — it’s most beneficial to rely on a healthy diet to get your fill of vitamins and minerals,” Dr. Jenkins said. “So far, no research on supplements has shown us anything better than healthy servings of less processed plant foods including vegetables, fruits and nuts.”
Keep in mind that supplements are available in various levels of potency. Pharmaceutical grade supplements (used in medical research studies) are the most pure and potent. If you are buying lower grade supplements (such as cosmetic or therapeutic grade), there is a very low likeliness that you are receiving any health benefits and a high likeliness you are wasting your money. Unless your health care provider has prescribed supplements (or recommends a specific type of supplement) you may be better off using your money toward the purchase of healthy food.