Multivitamins are big business with little benefit
Posted January 9
Multivitamins and dietary supplements are big business. More than two-thirds of Americans take them, spending over $32 billion last year.
Supermarket aisles are full of them, with endorsements from celebrities including Nicole Kidman and Martha Stewart.
But there’s little proof they offer any real health benefit, according to Consumer Reports.
A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine found fish oil didn't lower the rate of heart attacks or strokes when compared with taking a placebo.
Another study of nearly 15,000 older Americans found multivitamins didn't reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke or death.
The National Institutes of Health found that men had a higher risk of dying from heart disease if they took more than 1,000 milligrams of calcium supplements a day.
One of the more serious risks with multivitamins is they can interact with regular medication.
Vitamin E can cause bleeding and shouldn't be taken with blood thinners or aspirin.
Consumer Reports found that 26 percent of people who took a multivitamin or supplement did not mention them to their doctors.
Experts advise patients to tell their doctors about any vitamins or supplements they’re talking.
In addition, nearly half of people in a poll believe the federal government reviews vitamins and supplements before they go on the market, which is not true.
"It may seem easier to meet your daily nutritional requirements from a bottle, but it's actually healthier to eat a varied diet of fruits, vegetables, fish and other healthy foods," said Dr. Orly Avitzur, Consumer Reports medical adviser.