Our love affair with multivitamins appears to be on the rise. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), more than half of all Americans take supplements, most of them multivitamins. As with many love affairs, we seem to be throwing caution to the wind, ascribing all sorts of health benefits to products of this $20 billion industry which, in study after study, have yet to definitively prove their worth.
One of the latest studies conducted by the Women’s Health Initiative, followed more than 160,000 women over the course of eight years. Its findings? “Convincing evidence that multivitamin use has little or no influence on the risk of common cancers, CVD, or total mortality in postmenopausal women.”
Those are fighting words, and they’re not the first. A 2006 panel conducted by the NIH concluded that more rigorous studies are needed to assure the public of the safety and efficacy of vitamins and other supplements. Despite being praised as a large and well-executed study, the Women’s Health Initiative has surely not put the issue to rest; with a $20 billion industry at stake, more studies are likely to come.
Until then, it seems mothers across the land have been right all along – just eat your vegetables already!