A new study published by the Archives of Internal Medicine shows that multivitamins consumed by older women do not increase lifespan. In fact, some supplements were shown to slightly increase mortality. Close to 40,000 women were followed over the course of 25 years in what is known as the “Iowa Study”.
The survey asked about use of multivitamins, vitamins A, C, D and E as well as beta-carotene, B vitamins and minerals such as calcium, copper, magnesium, selenium and zinc. For the most part, there was no difference between women who used supplements and those who did not. For calcium use, there was a slight increase in lifespan, but for iron there was a slight increase in mortality.
The $20 billion supplement industry did not wait even a minute for the ink to dry in order to refute the study:
“This study, however, is quite limited in scope; the data is observational and self-reported so contributing factors are not addressed. Subsequently, the authors cannot conclude any cause and effect and there is no reason why women should change what they’re doing based on this report.”
What do we learn from this?
The supplement industry is huge and plays off of our fears: We know that our diet is not good. We know we need more vitamins and minerals. Isn’t it great to take a daily pill or two or ten as insurance?
Well, maybe some people do need to supplement. Pregnant women need more folate. People with certain deficiencies need to take a pill. But for the most part, healthy people need to get their nutrients from real food not a magic pill.
What about you? Do you take a daily multivitamin? Why?