It has been a conflicting debate for some time, but now, the most in depth investigation into the true health benefits of taking multivitamin supplements has revealed that there aren’t any for middle aged women taking them - other than having vitamin enriched urine.
Almost 162,000 American women aged between 50 and 79 volunteered to divulge their vitamin intake where researchers discovered that despite the huge quantity of dietary supplements being consumed by these women, there was no evidence to prove they had any effect of minimising the risk of common cancers, heart disease or deaths.
In fact, all people need to do to ensure they get all the nutrients and vitamins their body needs is to have a healthy and balanced diet. If the body has more of the water soluble vitamins C, B1, B2 or B6 than it needs - whether from food or supplements, the excess will simply pass through the body and be excreted. In the case of fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K, excess amounts will be stored in the liver - which can result in adverse side effects.
Dr Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller - a professor of epidemiology at Albert Einstein College, Yeshiva University, said, “Based on our results, if you fall into the category of the women described here and you do in fact have an adequate diet, there really is no reason to take a multivitamin,”
Almost 50 per cent of Americans collectively spend $20 billion (£13.4 billion) every year on vitamin and dietary supplements in the belief and hope that they will live a longer healthier life. In the UK, the Foods Standards Agency carried out a survey in 2008 that revealed as many as 31 per cent of adults admitted to buying and taking multivitamins, which cost on average £7 a month. The dietary supplement business in the UK is thought to be worth more than £330 million a year.
The researchers leading the study noted 10,000 incidents of cancer, 9,000 heart attacks and 10,000 deaths before comparing the results among women who took vitamins to those who did not. Marian Neuhouser of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle, who headed the study published in Archives of Internal Medicine, said, “To our surprise we found that multivitamins did not lower the risk of the most common cancers and also had no impact on heart disease.”