Multivitamins and vitamin supplements are a billion dollar a year industry that many people rely on for better health and quality of life. For years I have been someone who takes vitamins and, in my opinion, they have brought my level of health up from where it was. However, in the last few years studies have begun to show contradictory evidence on whether or not these over the counter supplements actually do help make us healthier. Here are some of the top studies that have shown support for or against the use of multivitamins and supplemental vitamin and minerals.
Vitamin D Supplements For Preventing Bone Fracture
In 2006 a study was done on the efficiency of vitamin D supplements in preventing hip and other bone fractures in postmenopausal women. Over 30,000 women were recruited aging from age 50 to 79 years old, chosen from the registry of the Women’s Health Initiative clinical trials. Patients were randomly assigned to take 1000 mg of calcium and 400 IU of vitamin D supplements on a day basis while the rest were given placebos. Fractures and bone density was measured over the course of seven years at participating national WHI centers.
The results were that the group receiving supplements showed a greater bone density and less chance of fracture than the placebo receiving group. In healthy menopausal women the supplements made a slight but significant improvement in hip bone density, while the chance of fracture lessened but not an extremely noticeable amount. The study also showed an increased risk of kidney stones as a possible negative side effect.
The Use of Multivitamins to Prevent Cancer, Disease, and Cognitive Decline
In 2012, the National Cancer Institute released a study that would test vitamins and supplements for the prevention of cancer, cardiovascular disease, eye diseases, or cognitive decline from lack of proper nutrition. This randomized study tested the effects of vitamin E, vitamin C, beta carotene, and multivitamins against a controlled group of placebos. The study began in 1997 and included 14,641 male physicians ages 50 and older. Participants were randomly assigned either real or placebo supplements to take on a monthly basis.
The results were not as promising as one might have hoped. After 11 years a followup of patients showed that 2669 men taking the supplements had cancer, the majority being prostate cancer while the rest were of the colorectal variety. Compared with the placebo however, the men taking the daily multivitamin had a large reduction of total cancer cases overall. The mortality rate of the cancer on both sides of the study was much the same. The conclusion of the study was that vitamins did reduce risk of cancer but only in a modest aspect.
Omega-3 Fatty Acid Trials
Omega-3 fatty acids are considered a healthy and needed form of fat for a healthy functioning body. While they are necessary for proper body function our body does not produce these on its own. Most people get this healthy fat by eating fish like tuna, salmon, and halibut while others glean this material from nut oils and some plants. These fats are known to promote healthy brain function and may show a decrease in the risk of heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends eating food containing omega-3 fats at least twice per week. Along with other positive benefits, in 2005 a study was released by NCBI that concentrated on evaluating whether fish or olive oil supplements in a diet could help patients that suffered from rheumatoid arthritis.
The study showed that there was a large improvement in symptoms such as joint pain, hand grip strength, morning stiffness, and the onset of fatigue. The conclusion of the study showed that omega-3 fatty acids relieved several of the symptoms of this type of arthritis in participants over the course of 24 weeks. While both fish and olive oil showed promising results a combination of both seemed to be the most effective route for relief.
These studies show that despite what many people might say, vitamins and supplements may indeed play a large role in keeping us happy and healthy. Remember to consult a physician before abruptly changing your diet or supplement program. I am pro-vitamin and will continue to take my supplements in hopes that it will help stave off looming medical conditions.
The New England Journal of Medicine- Calcium plus Vitamin D Study in Postmenopausal Women
Journal of American Medical Association- Multivitamins for Cancer and Disease Prevention
NCBI- Supplementation of Fish Oil and Olive Oil for Rheumatoid Arthritis
For more health and nutrition information and reading from this author, check out:
My Short Term Experience With Iron Deficiency Anemia
MDMA: Psychotherapy Drug of the Future
Eight Foods That Improve Brain Function Through a Healthy Diet