The Vitamin and Mineral supplement industry is huge and many people that purchase these are ‘well’ and their objective is to stay that way. They are heavily marketed and usually list many benefits. Is there any science behind the claims?
The US Preventative Service Task Force (USPSTF) has recently updated their recommendations regarding the science behind multivitamin supplements.
The USPSTF concluded that the current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of the use of multivitamins for the prevention of cardiovascular disease or cancer. They also concluded that the current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of the use of single- or paired-nutrient supplements (except β-carotene and vitamin E) for the prevention of cardiovascular disease or cancer.
The USPSTF recommended against the use of β-carotene or vitamin E supplements for the prevention of cardiovascular disease or cancer. Some forms of cancer were shown to increase with B-Carotene supplements.
What should this mean to you and me? Appropriate intake of vitamin and mineral nutrients is essential to overall health. Despite the uncertain benefit of vitamin supplementation, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest that nutrients should come primarily from foods and provide guidance on how to consume a nutrient-rich diet. Adequate nutrition by eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, and seafood has been associated with a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Specific groups of patients with well-defined conditions may benefit from specific nutrients. For example, women planning or capable of pregnancy should receive a daily supplement containing folic acid to help prevent neural tube defects. The USPSTF also recommends vitamin D supplements for older persons at risk for falling.
You would think that with the Pharmacy shelves lined with multivitamins that the science would be done to prove their use. For the well person is has not.