From Ronald Hoffman, MD
Multivitamins containing most of the essential vitamins and minerals at doses that provide greater than 100% of the RDA are the most commonly used dietary supplements; approximately 1/3 of US adults takes one or another formulation.
But the bloom is off the rose with major press outlets declaring:
- “Multivitamins are a waste of money for most people”—Study Finds
- “Multivitamins continue to disappoint”—Sydney Morning Herald
- “Multivitamins and Supplements—Benign Prevention or Potentially Harmful Distraction?”—JAMA
One of their themes is that gullible people will take multivitamins as a bulwark against all misfortune while engaging in unhealthy diet and lifestyle practices. The emphasis, the experts intone, should be on diet and exercise.
This is one of the shibboleths that I’ve been battling for my entire career. The overwhelming majority of my patients and audience take multivitamins not as a substitute for, but rather as an accouterment of, a concerted effort to eat healthily and maximize physical fitness. I can count on one hand the number of patients I’ve encountered in a 30-plus year career who continue to smoke, gourmandize, and skip workouts because they were under the erroneous impression that supplements could shield them from their habits’ toll.
Let’s take a closer look at the studies that have lately called into question the efficacy of multis.