The scientific community is ready to debunk a widespread and commonly believed myth. For many years, health professionals have persistently touted the benefits of a daily multivitamin. New data from two major studies is now challenging those beliefs. The Agency for Health Research and Quality and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have revealed the same conclusion: Daily multivitamins are not the building blocks of a healthy lifestyle.
Multivitamins were once believed to ‘supplement’ a not-so-perfect diet. There are many different formulas, but common multivitamin claims are that they aid in the following:
- Heart health
- Reproductive health
- Cancer prevention
- Immune support
- Higher brain function
- Integrated, full body health
We now know that those claims are largely inaccurate. Even more disturbing is the evidence that multivitamins may produce harmful effects. Multivitamin consumption might be linked to a higher risk of breast, prostate and colon cancer. I know, I know. I’m not only telling you that multivitamins don’t help, but they could actually increase your risk of cancer. Believe me, I’m just as shocked and confused as you are.
The reason why multivitamins don’t work is because our bodies prefer whole food. Translation: Stop worrying about the newest, trendiest vitamin supplement and just start eating properly.
Marian Neuhouser (lead author of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center report) concluded that, “Multivitamins failed to prevent cancer, heart disease and all causes of death for all women. Whether the women were healthy eaters or ate very few fruits and vegetables, the results were the same.”
Some groups of people may still benefit from nutritional supplementation. Do some research and ask a professional before swearing off vitamins altogether. This is especially important if you are pregnant, anemic, sick or elderly. Young children (particularly picky eaters) may also require vitamins, although I must insist that a balanced diet will go a lot farther.
If anything should be taken from this, it’s that scientific ‘evidence’ is constantly evolving. Don’t depend on a supplement to keep you healthy. Our bodies don’t need pills. We need food; a healthy, balanced cornucopia of fresh, whole food.