There have been a couple of studies published recently that test out the effectiveness of multivitamins on prevention of mental decline and deaths. Does taking a daily dose of vitamin supplement improve your health or is it more prudent to get your vitamins and minerals from elsewhere? Let's find out!
These studies looked at 2 particular groups of people. This means that their results can only really be used to judge the effectiveness of vitamin supplements in those groups. They tested people that had heart attacks and also people over the age of 65. If you're not in these grips then this will be interesting reading and may apply to you but there's no scientific evidence from these studies to support that claim.
What did they do?
They asked both groups of people up start taking a daily multivitamin at a certain time. When they started taking them the scientists did a couple of tests, for example heart and brain function tests. They asked each participant to continue with their daily dose for up to 10 years. They treated the patients at regular intervals and compared the results to beforehand and to each other. To make sure the trials were easy to compare they have half the group a placebo - that is a pill that would look like a multivitamin but didn't actually have any vitamins in it.
Once the trial was complete the results between the groups were compared and conclusions were drawn.
So what was the conclusion?
Put simply there was no difference in people that had taken the multivitamin for 10 years when compared to the placebo group. There was no difference on brain function, mental deteriation or 2nd heart attack. From this we can say that there's no evidence to show that taking a daily multivitamin has any effect on these measures.
No one knows for sure, but a good theory is that your body struggles to absorb the vitamins and minerals when taken in this form. Not only are some of them in their 'inactive' form which our body can't use but our bodies often rely on other ingredients in food to help the absorption and usage of vitamins and minerals. When taken without food we struggle to get the most out of vitamins and minerals.
Bearing that in mind I would urge people in these groups to cut their spending on multivitamins and instead spend a little more on getting the best quality food they can that contain a good balance of big mains and minerals. Ditch things like fizzy drinks that actually sap certain minerals out of your body and just focus on eating 'real' food.
If you're not in one of these groups then there's not niche evidence to support any change, however the mechanisms thought to have the impact on these groups are likely to be the same for other people. It wouldn't be a stretch to say that it's a good idea for most people to ditch multivitamins and instead focus on eaton a healthy diet, but these studies don't back it up because they didn't test it.