Long live multivitamins

Patients often approach me with panicked questions about the latest sensational headline to turn the health world on its head. One of the more recent of these is the claim that daily multivitamins cause cancer.

This is wrong on so many levels it’s hard to know where to begin. But you have to start somewhere. So I’ll address the science first.

As you know, where there is one study saying one thing, there are others saying something completely different. And the modern multivitamin controversy is no exception.

A new meta-analysis reviewed data from 21 published studies on 91,074 people, including 8,794 deaths. The average subject was 62 years old and took a multivitamin and mineral supplement for an average of 43 months.

Results showed quite clearly that a daily multivitamin won’t increase your risk of death–from cancer, heart disease, or otherwise. (In fact, researchers noted a trend for reduced risk of death from any cause.)

This study appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. And it’s just the latest rebuttal of a meta-analysis that appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) over five years ago now.

That 2007 review included 66 randomized trials. Ultimately, results linked antioxidant supplements (including vitamins A, C, E, and beta-carotene) to a 16 percent increase in mortality risk.

However, what the mainstream media failed to mention was that these researchers excluded 400 other clinical trials from their analysis. Why?

Because these trials didn’t report any deaths.

Consider that little detail, and it’s a lot easier to see how a few scientists were able to convince the public that multivitamins are harmful.

Sadly, this is how clinical research often works. You ask a question and design a study that will give you the answer you want. Plain and simple…and deceptive, to say the least.

Between this study and a previous one I shared with you–proving that a multivitamin can single-handedly prevent your chromosomes from unraveling (They finally got something right, 10/29/2012)–my recommendation still stands.

Take a comprehensive multivitamin every day.

“Multivitamin-multimineral supplementation and mortality: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Feb;97(2):437-44.