If you take a multivitamin supplement, it's likely because you want to do all you can to safeguard your health. However, there is still limited evidence that a daily cocktail of essential vitamins and minerals actually delivers the desired results. Most studies don't find any benefit of multivitamins to protect the brain or heart. Generally, people don't need to take vitamin supplements and can get all the vitamins and minerals they need if they follow a healthy, balanced diet. In fact, most studies haven't found any significant benefit of taking a daily multivitamin to protect the brain or heart, or to prevent cancer.
Despite general claims that multivitamins are beneficial for health goals X or Y, they are not yet necessarily backed by research. For people with medical illnesses or taking prescription medications, it is best to check with your doctor for personalized advice, as illnesses and medications can alter the use of vitamins and minerals, so you may need more or less of a vitamin. Ultimately, taking a multivitamin is a personal choice that you should make in collaboration with your doctor based on your unique nutritional and health requirements. The Physicians' Health Study II investigated the effects of daily multivitamin use on more than 14,000 middle-aged male doctors for more than a decade and found no reduction in heart attacks, strokes, or mortality (1). This means that some people may benefit from a bit of supplements, simply to raise them to the recommended daily requirement for certain vitamins and minerals, Fernstrom said.
Researchers concluded that multivitamins do not reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, cognitive impairment (such as memory loss and decreased thinking), or premature death. While some studies indicate that people who take multivitamins have a lower risk of heart disease, others have found no connection. However, even too much water-soluble vitamin C can cause kidney stones, while too high doses of fat-soluble vitamin A can wreak havoc on the liver. Multivitamin every day as a small insurance policy, said David Levitsky, professor of nutrition and psychology at Cornell University and also an outspoken critic of supplement industry scams. According to Cherian, people who follow a healthy, balanced diet that incorporates whole grains, fruits, vegetables and proteins are likely to get all the vitamins they need, and a multivitamin complex won't provide much benefit.
For example, more than 90% of Americans get less than the estimated average requirement for vitamin D and vitamin E from food sources alone. However, a more recent study found that among women, but not among men, taking a multivitamin for more than 3 years was associated with a lower risk of dying from heart disease (1). Studies found that taking a daily multivitamin did not prevent heart problems or memory loss, and was not related to a longer life expectancy. When it comes to specific vitamins and minerals, some Americans get lower than adequate amounts based on criteria established by the National Academy of Medicine. Therefore, to maximize benefits think of your multivitamin as just another tool in your arsenal against illness and suffering according to Helou.
For example, vitamin D is an essential nutrient that helps keep the body healthy but it's mainly found in animal products such as eggs, fatty fish, liver and fortified dairy products which are not available on vegan menus according to Kostro Miller. While some believe that taking multivitamins can help prevent heart disease research doesn't seem to support it conclusively.