A recent article from the Archives of Internal Medicine questions the benefits of multivitamins. This study was an observational study. 38,772 women self-reported their use of supplements for the years 1986, 1997, and 2004 via questionnaires The average age of the women in this study was 61.
Most supplements were not associated with a decreased risk of death in this study and some were actually associated with an increased risk of death.
Let’s look at two of the most important findings. Iron use was associated with an increased mortality in this study. It is known that excessive iron can be associated with heart disease, cancer, and type II diabetes. It does not prove that excessive iron causes these diseases. It just suggests that there is a connection. Do not take iron unless a blood test reveals you are iron deficient. Most postmenopausal women and men should not use iron.
Calcium is important to slow bone loss and important for bone development. In this study calcium use was associated with decreased mortality. However excessive calcium can be associated with an increased risk of heart disease, prostate cancer, and kidney stones. Discuss the proper dose of calcium for you with your health care provider.
This study did not look at the benefits of vitamin D or Omega 3 fatty acids (fish oil). It did show an association of increased mortality with certain B vitamins although there are numerous studies to show folic acid decreases the risk of birth defects in women of child bearing age.
This is an observational study. It shows an association, but does not determine cause and effect. More studies will be needed to look at vitamin use and disease prevention.
Certain doses of vitamins and minerals do have health benefit. Most people do not eat a balanced diet and may be missing vital nutrients. You can have nutrient testing to see if you are deficient. Ask your health care provider to help you make the correct choice.