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Do Multivitamins Work?

By Madhusudhan Tammisetti

Multivitamins are dietary supplements that contain various vitamins and minerals. They're also called multiples, multiminerals, multis, or simply vitamins. They're available in various forms, including capsules, tablets, powder, chewable gummies, and liquids.

Technically, there's no standard definition for what constitutes a multivitamin. Therefore, the nutrient composition varies depending on the brand and product.

Why do people take multivitamins? For optimal health, the body needs 13 vitamins and 16 minerals in different amounts. Some of these nutrients can be found in many multivitamins.

Every year Americans spend $21 billion on herbal supplements, vitamins, and minerals. Multivitamin constitutes about 70 percent of the supplements.

Bridging Nutrient Gaps

Dietary Guidelines for Americans state adults are often deficient in calcium, magnesium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E.

Many people aren't getting the required vitamins and minerals through their usual diet. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that adults should eat 1.5-2 cups of fruits and 2-3 cups of vegetables daily. But according to a CDC study, about 76 percent of adults don't consume enough fruit, and 87 percent don't take enough vegetables.

If you don't eat fruits and vegetables in the required quantity, you miss out on some essential vitamins and minerals needed for the body. Fortunately, multivitamins may supplement the vitamins and minerals found in fruits and vegetables in your diet.

Multivitamins and Heart Disease

In the world, the leading cause of death is heart disease. Some studies indicate multivitamins may reduce the risk of heart attack and death, while others show no effects. Physicians' Health Study II investigated the effects of daily multivitamin intake in more than 14,000 male doctors for more than a decade. The study showed no reduction in strokes, heart attacks, or mortality.

A recent study revealed, among women, a 35 percent reduced risk of mortality from heart disease.

Multivitamins and Cancer

Some studies indicate multivitamin use increased cancer risk, while others show no effect on cancer risk.

A review examined controlled trials conducted in 47,289 people shows a 31 percent lower risk of getting cancer in men and no effect in women. The Physicians' Health Study II shows daily use of multivitamins for the long-term reduces the cancer risk in men who don't have a cancer history.

Brain Function

Evidence suggests multivitamin use aids in improved memory in older adults.

Multivitamins may help improve mood. Research reveals there is a correlation between nutrient deficiency and poor mood swings. It also shows a relation between multivitamin use and good mood or lower depression symptoms.

The evidence of multivitamins use for optimal health is mixed. There's an increased risk to health in some cases. In the long-term, multivitamins are not a substitute for a balanced diet.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Vacaville, Calif.

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