Should Vitamins Be Avoided?

Americans spent nearly $30 billion on vitamins and minerals in 2011; more than half of us take at least one supplement daily. The vitamin regimen is a ritual heartily embraced by the healthy set, and it’s no wonder. For decades we’ve been told that vitamins boost health and may be essential for longevity, maintaining cognitive ability and fighting disease.

But there has been a growing voice of dissent, and now a panel of experts has taken to the pen to write a strongly worded editorial in the Annals of Internal Medicine, saying that the case is closed on vitamins and other supplements.

“The message is simple: Most supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death, their use is not justified, and they should be avoided,” writes the authors, a panel that includes researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, a British researcher and one of the journal’s senior editors.

While many experts continue to recommend the use of folic acid for women with child-bearing potential – and the authors make an exception for supplemental vitamin D, which they say needs further research – for other vitamins and supplements, they say “the case is closed.”

“We have so much information from so many studies,” said Dr. Cynthia Mulrow, senior deputy editor of the journal and one of the authors. “We don’t need a lot more evidence to put this to bed.”

The editorial in the Annals comes along with two new studies also published in the edition; one reports poor results for multivitamins in helping preserve cognitive function and preventing heart attacks. The other found that high-dose vitamins and minerals did not protect cardiovascular patients 50 years and older from having further heart attacks.

Although many consumers believe that regular long-term use of vitamins can prevent heart disease and cancer, it has never been clearly established in clinical trials. The editorial’s authors are not the first to bring attention to the fact.

The Cochrane Collaboration, a publisher of medical reviews, also concluded that taking vitamins does not extend life. And an updated review of the evidence by the United States Preventive Services Task Force also concluded that there was little evidence that vitamin and mineral supplementation could deter disease, notes The New York Times.

The task force did point out that two clinical trials had found slight cancer reductions among men who took multivitamins, but other research has concluded that some supplements may actually increase the risk of lung cancer in smokers, the task force review said, and that high doses of vitamins A and E cause harm and may increase the risk of death.

Dr. Stephen P. Fortmann of the Kaiser Center of Health Research and leader of the task force review, said that those who buy vitamins may be “throwing their money away.”

“Don’t think it makes up for a bad diet, that you can eat a lot of fast food and then take a bunch of supplements,” he added. “That’s not a good idea.”


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article by Melissa Breyer


James R B.
James B4 years ago

You could not ask for a more deceitful and blatant piece of pharmaceutical propaganda. Of course all nutritional supplements are not created equal, and you should consume a full spectrum of essential organic plant based supplements, given how most of our foods have been long depleted of any meaningful nutrients. However, no matter what you take, there has NOT been ONE recorded case of disability or death resulting from taking supplements, unlike over 3/4 of a million dying annually in the US alone from medical establishment over-prescribed and mis-prescribed pharmaceuticals~!! Medical education for MDs in the US includes virtually NO coursework in human nutrition, amazing how the system has successfully purged any acknowledgement of how the nutrition we consume affects our health. The only way you can get away with the assertion of what you eat and what you supplement has no bearing on your health, is to have succeeded in detaching and dumbing-down the population from the fundamentals of biological life. Even though many people are waking up and understanding how critical proper nutrition is for our health, governments and the pharmaceutical mafia are working overtime attacking your ability to take responsibility for your health, etc…

Lynn C.
Lynn C4 years ago


PrimaSICK B.
PrimaAWAY B4 years ago

Catherine S.
7:11PM PST on Dec 19, 2013
With the typical American diet today, I don't see how taking a multivitamin/mineral can hurt. My doctor commented that most vitamins don't have enough of what you need and too much of what you don't.
Catherine taking a multi vitamin is pretty safe for everyone. You are absolutely correct.... If you are deficient then you may need to take a lot more of a certain vitamin. You can get sick if you take too much of the wrong vitamins. Your body may not need it. Are you buying them at dollar Stores?? Don't do that!! You can have blood work done to test for the most important vitamin deficiencies.
A multi vitamin is fine for everyone and I highly doubt it even has too much of anything. Some people just get sick from certain vitamins ,so I would say don't take them. You don't need them probably.
The article above is a bit weird. Do your own research . As for a multi vitamin, I can't imagine that doing any harm in general.
Research!! Don't overdo the vitamins you don't need.

Wisteria K.
Past Member 4 years ago

In my part of the world we have little light and sun during the winter .
Traditionally we have used cod lover oil daily to get vitamin A,D and omega .

I find it hard to believe that it is harmful to use all kinds of supplements, and I will continue with my cod lover oil, and vitamin C.

Sharon W.
Sharon W.4 years ago

Vitamins are great- IF you need them.
Meaning: If you don´t get enough sunlight, take some Vitamin D or you will get sick.
If you eat only ramen noodles, take some Vitamin C or your teeth will fall out.

But please DON´T take too much of it. While your body can get rid of natural Vitamins (like if you chose to eat 10 lemons one day), it cannot get rid of singled-out, manifactured Vitamins (google "Vitamin C overdose").

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W4 years ago

synthetic vitamins yes, not fruit and vegetables

Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra4 years ago

Many people need Supplements, because the Food that we eat, do not give us our Daily Requirements. Take Vitamins C. Even though it is found in Citrus Fruits and certain other Veggies, can you imagine how many Oranges, for Example that you would have to eat to equal the 1000 Milligrams, to help you to Prevent Colds and the Flu? One Orange contains, just about 125 Milligrams, so as you can see, you will have to Consume a lot of Oranges, every day, to Stay Well.

Elena T.
Elena Poensgen4 years ago

Thank you :)

4 years ago

Upon further reelection, I have to ask myself who is going to profit from this "study?" Who paid for it? As Deep Throat said "follow the money." The medical pharmaceutical insurance cartel does nothing without a profit motive. So something is going on behind the scenes here.

Jandrel Andrel
i Andrel4 years ago

I take d & omega 3 - because I don't get enough sun and seafood