Two studies published in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that multivitamins did not provide protection against cognitive decline or cardiovascular disease. The Physicians’ Health Study involved more than 5,000 older male doctors who were randomly assigned to take either Centrum Silver or a placebo. They started taking their pills in 1997 and were assessed four times over the next dozen years. Investigators tested verbal memory and cognition. There was no difference in cognitive performance between the two groups. The authors concluded that long-term use of a daily multivitamin is not effective for preventing cognitive decline.

In the second study, 1,700 people who had experienced a heart attack were randomly assigned to a high-potency multivitamin or placebo. They were followed for roughly five years. Again, there was no difference in cardiovascular outcomes between the two groups. An editorial in the Annals concluded that vitamins are a waste of money, that most supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death and their use is not justified.

[Annals of Internal Medicine, Dec. 17, 2013]

This stands in contrast to some previous findings. The very same Physicians’ Health Study that found no benefit of multivitamins for cognitive function found that they did help reduce the risk of cataracts. A recent study also found that people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) experience less muscle fatigue if they take vitamin C. So we think it is premature to dismiss vitamins as having no value whatsoever.

Many people take medications that can deplete their bodies of critical vitamins, as the acid-suppressing drugs deplete vitamin B12.

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  1. Will
    Reply

    I take a multivitamin with phytosterols and 400 iu of Vitamin E with a 100 iu of Co-Q10. I had open heart surgery at age 50 and 15 years later ticking along in good shape. I know that after a week without the multi-vitamins I feel sluggish.

  2. Virginia
    Reply

    I would take a closer look at the label of the multi-vitamin you are currently taking. I’ve taken Centrum Silver/Women (not an inexpensive brand) for years. After these questions came up about multis, I noticed that Centrum uses the synthetic form of Vitamin B12, listed as cyanocobalamin, rather than the natural B12, labeled as hydroxy-, methyl-, or adenosylcobalamin.
    Centrum also uses dyes including Aluminum Lake #’s. These coloring agents are derived from coal tar, and they contain aluminum atoms. Elevated aluminum levels have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
    And that is just what I caught at 1st glance…I’m taking a closer look @ the label over the weekend! I’m in need of a new multi…any suggestions?

  3. RLB
    Reply

    Another “study” tricked out to appear to be genuine research. The subjects, for example, male doctors. Would anyone suspect that these participants would not already have the benefit of a well balanced diet? Why not the same number of individuals who were less affluent. Also, multivitamins have a ridiculously low level of vitamins. A targeted dosage of specific vitamins would have had genuine results.

  4. Margaret O
    Reply

    I think supplements Vitamins or Herbals, they all help. You may not get rid of a disease, but you may prevent one or slow down one. It’s all Hog Wash about them not having a benefit. If you take good care of yourself, you’ll see a doctor less plus you’ll need less meds. and prescriptions. And the doctors and the Pharms. will make less money and they won’t like that. Like I said, Hog Wash.

  5. Judy M
    Reply

    I am wondering if the Centrum Silver and the other “high potency multivitamin” were studied independently to know whether they were pure, contained the mg. etc. that were stated in the literature…. there’s a big difference in quality of vitamins. I certainly have found real value in those I’m taking for many reasons.
    I trust in naturopathic doctors and will stay tuned for their advice.

  6. Donnie
    Reply

    I take supplements, because tests show that I need to take them. I have Celiac and food allergies and can’t get the nutrients from my diet. Many people have disorders that affect the way they absorb nutrients. And there are a lot of drugs that do, too. Taking vitamins are making up for what we may be lacking in our diets. Most people don’t get what they need from our over processed food supply, anyway. I don’t take supermarket type vitamins and supplements. I buy the top brands from the health food stores.
    Low dose multis are not likely to contain enough nutrients to do any good, especially Vitamin C and B vitamins. Or enough minerals. I wonder who funded the study that led to the latest supplement bashing. It would be interesting to know what conflicts of interest might be involved. And we must remember, that healthy patients equal less profits.

  7. RAB
    Reply

    I’ve already had some conversations about ‘multi-vitamins’ with a few friends. I personally think MV’s are a waste of money but I do believe that a quality individual vitamin (D-3, Magnesium, C, etc) can be very beneficial. MV’s are like eating the same meal every day! I don’t take my vitamins on a ritual. I take them at different times, and different amounts, just as if they were a natural intake. At certain times, ailments, or conditions I feel that I need one more than the other. I’m sure I will be having more conversations with those who believed in MV’s but now, because of the news release, are more confused.

  8. Kim Hayes
    Reply

    This study sounds like a ‘giant baloney sandwich’, there are hundreds of things that were not controlled for that would have a bearing on the outcome. Sounds like something Big Pharma funded to help rid the world of supplements.

  9. charlotte
    Reply

    I cannot believe this study. Lack of B12 and folate cause increased levels of homocysteine which in turn cause atherosclerosis. Lack of B12 can cause nerve and brain problems. Many people don’t absorb B12– stomach problems, PPIs etc. Our fruit and veg are no longer organic or fresh when we buy them. The soil is repeatedly sown and tilled and artificial fertilizers are used. I honestly don’t think that produce these days has all the vitamins and minerals, trace elements that we need. So I will continue to take my multi vitamin

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