Taking a Multivitamin? Maybe You Should Reconsider

Woman holding a multivitamin
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If you are taking a multivitamin, there is a good chance you feel great. But there’s an even higher likelihood that those positive feelings are all in your head.

In fact, multivitamins have zero health benefit, according to findings from a recent study published in the online medical journal BMJ Open.

However, the study — which looked at people with dozens of physical and mental illnesses, and how multivitamin use impacted their well-being — found that adults who regularly take multivitamins self-reported 30% better overall health than people who don’t take such vitamins.

As part of the study, researchers looked at data on more than 21,000 people. The data was collected as part of the 2012 U.S. National Health Interview Survey.

Of these people, nearly 5,000 regularly took multivitamins, while the rest did not. On average, those who took multivitamins were:

  • Significantly older
  • Had higher household incomes
  • Were more likely to be women, college graduates and married
  • Were more likely to have health insurance

After assessing the physical and psychological health of the people in the study — based on participant responses to survey questions — the researchers concluded that those who took multivitamins were no healthier than those who did not, although the first group reported feeling better.

The researchers said they could not determine exactly why people who took multivitamins reported feeling healthier. It is possible that people who take multivitamins trick themselves into thinking they feel better due to the pill.

Or, those who take multivitamins may on average just be naturally more positive than those who do not take vitamins.

Around one-third of Americans take a multivitamin regularly, the researchers report.

Lead researcher Manish Paranjpe, a student at Harvard Medical School in Boston, told HealthDay that those who take multivitamins are wasting money:

“We believe that money could be better spent on things that we do know have a positive health benefit, such as eating a healthy diet.”

Exercising and socializing also are likely to pay bigger dividends than taking multivitamins, Paranjpe says.

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