Study Finds Multivitamins Won't Help You Live Longer

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Key Takeaways

  • Yet another study, this time involving over 390,000 people, finds no benefit to life span for people taking multivitamins

  • Other studies have found that the pills don't prevent heart disease or cancer

  • Still, about a third of U.S. adults continue to take multivitamins

WEDNESDAY, June 26, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- A full third of American adults take multivitamins, despite prior studies suggesting they do little to boost health.

Now, a study involving almost 400,000 people finds zero benefit from multivitamin use in helping folks live longer.

Among people "without a history of major chronic diseases, we did not find evidence to support improved longevity among healthy adults who regularly take multivitamins," concluded a team led by Erikka Loftfield. She's with the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Her team published its findings June 26 in the journal JAMA Network Open.

In the study, Loftfield's group analyzed data from three prospective studies (meaning people were followed over time) with an average 27 years of follow-up.

Over 390,000 healthy adults were enrolled in the studies, and they averaged about 61 years of age upon study entry. Researchers gathered data on the participants' multivitamin use.

Over the nearly three decades of follow-up, almost 165,000 of the participants died. About 50,000 deaths were attributed to cancer, about 35,000 deaths were caused by heart disease and 9,275 deaths were linked to strokes.

However, Loftfield's group detected no association between multivitamin use and a person's odds of dying within the study period.

In fact, "we found that daily multivitamin use vs nonuse was associated with 4% higher mortality [death] risk," the researchers noted.

People's race, ethnicity, education or dietary quality didn't alter the results.

The NCI team noted that the new findings come on the heels of "several studies that reported no benefit of multivitamin use for reducing risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer or mortality."

In 2020, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an influential, independent panel of health experts, found "insufficient" evidence to determine whether or not multivitamins could prevent heart disease or cancer.

The message to the public on multivitamins might slowly be getting through: "In the U.S., multivitamin use declined by 6% from 1999 to 2011," Loftfield's group noted.

However, use "remains popular, with nearly 1 in 3 adults reporting recent use," they added.

While the study showed no effect of multivitamins on people's odds for an early death, the team stressed that "we cannot preclude the possibility that daily multivitamin use may be associated with other health outcomes related to aging."

More information

Find out more about multivitamin use at Johns Hopkins Medicine.

SOURCE: JAMA Network Open, June 26, 2024

What This Means For You

Are you one of the millions of Americans who take multivitamins? The supplements may not extend your life, new research shows.

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