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fish oilMultivitamins? To use or not to use…

…seems to be the ongoing question. I have, personally, read numerous articles regarding multivitamin use over my years as a Registered Dietitian (RD) and they all seem to have similar conclusions.

Let’s review a recent article written in November 2020 by Dennis Thompson of HealthDay. The article is titled “Multivitamins’ ‘Benefits’ Are All in Your Head: Study”. Well, if that title doesn’t steer you towards the “similar conclusions” I previously stated maybe this summary of the article will.

Vitamins are a big sell in the United States. This article stated that about one-third of Americans take a multi-vitamin daily. And 30% of those regular-consumers reported better overall health.

To see whether they could establish any benefit from the supplements, the researchers analyzed data on more than 21,000 people collected as part of the 2012 U.S. National Health Interview Survey.

Nearly 5,000 people said they regularly took multivitamins, while more than 16,000 said they didn’t. Regular multivitamin users were significantly older and tended to have higher household incomes; they were also more likely to be women, college graduates, married and have health insurance.

They found that multivitamin users tended to judge themselves as “more healthy”, but the results revealed that they actually weren’t. It was interesting to me that they stated, “it also might be that folks who take multivitamins are, in general, or just naturally, more positive people”.

So, are there proven medical benefits of multivitamins or is it perhaps the good ole placebo-effect?

We, as Americans, like something tangible. We like something we feel like we can do, an action item that’s easy,” stated Melissa Majumdar, bariatric coordinator at Emory University Hospital Midtown in Atlanta, and a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “But there are certain things we just can’t get from a pill, and we know that vitamins and minerals don’t work independently. They work synergistically. When vitamins and minerals have been studied independent of a food, they don’t have the same benefit.

This article made it clear to not take sides, neither for nor against multi-vitamins. However, if you ask any RD (including me) they will likely tell you that it is truly best to get your vitamins and minerals from food. We do know vitamins are meant to fill a void and to supplement individual nutrients that may be lacking. However, the keyword is supplement (an overall healthy diet)!

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