Does taking a daily multivitamin help you live longer? Surprising results from long-term study

Multivitamins are popular in the U.S., with many adults taking them in hopes of boosting their health.

A comprehensive study tracking nearly 400,000 healthy adults in the U.S. over two decades found no link between regular multivitamin use and a reduced risk of death. This research, led by scientists at the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute, was published in JAMA Network Open.

Multivitamins are popular in the U.S., with many adults taking them in hopes of boosting their health. However, the actual benefits and harms of regular multivitamin use have been unclear. Previous studies have provided mixed results, often due to short follow-up periods and limited scope.

To thoroughly examine the long-term effects of multivitamin use on overall mortality, as well as deaths from cardiovascular disease and cancer, the researchers analyzed data from three extensive, diverse prospective studies.

These studies collectively involved 390,124 U.S. adults, all of whom were followed for more than 20 years. Participants were generally healthy at the start, with no history of cancer or chronic diseases.

The large sample size, extended follow-up period, and detailed demographic and lifestyle data allowed the researchers to address potential biases. For example, people who take multivitamins might generally lead healthier lifestyles, and those who are ill may be more inclined to use multivitamins.

The analysis revealed that daily multivitamin use did not correlate with a lower risk of death from any cause. There were no differences in mortality from cancer, heart disease, or cerebrovascular diseases between multivitamin users and non-users. The results were adjusted for various factors, including race, ethnicity, education, and diet quality.

Dr. Qi Sun, one of the lead researchers, commented, "Our findings suggest that there is no significant association between multivitamin use and lower mortality risk. This challenges the common belief that multivitamins can improve overall health and longevity."

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The researchers emphasized the need to study multivitamin use in different populations, such as those with documented nutritional deficiencies, and to consider the impact of multivitamin use on other health conditions related to aging.

This study adds to the growing body of evidence questioning the efficacy of multivitamins for preventing major health issues. While multivitamins are often marketed as beneficial for overall health, this research suggests that their impact may be minimal for the general, healthy population.

Dr. JoAnn Manson, a senior scientist involved in the study, explained, "It's crucial for people to focus on proven methods of maintaining health, such as a balanced diet, regular exercise, and avoiding smoking, rather than relying solely on supplements."

Despite the popularity of multivitamins, this study underscores the importance of evidence-based approaches to health. While multivitamins can be useful for individuals with specific nutritional needs, their role in preventing death from major diseases appears limited.

The researchers noted that while their study was extensive, it did not specifically address the effects of multivitamins on individuals with specific nutrient deficiencies. Future research is needed to explore whether targeted supplementation might benefit those with particular health conditions.

This study highlights the importance of looking at the broader picture when considering dietary supplements. While it's easy to reach for a multivitamin bottle, focusing on overall lifestyle choices remains key to long-term health.

While multivitamins remain a popular choice for many seeking to improve their health, this large-scale study suggests that their benefits might not include reducing the risk of death from major diseases. Instead, maintaining a healthy lifestyle appears to be the more effective strategy for longevity and overall well-being.

The findings of this study provide a valuable perspective for both healthcare providers and the general public, encouraging a more holistic approach to health that prioritizes proven lifestyle changes over reliance on supplements.

Note: Materials provided above by University of Exeter. Content may be edited for style and length.

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Joshua Shavit
Joshua ShavitScience and Good News Writer
Joshua Shavit is a bright and enthusiastic 17-year-old student with a passion for sharing positive stories that uplift and inspire. With a flair for writing and a deep appreciation for the beauty of human kindness, Joshua has embarked on a journey to spotlight the good news that happens around the world daily. His youthful perspective and genuine interest in spreading positivity make him a promising writer and co-founder at The Brighter Side of News.