This site uses cookies to store information on your computer. Learn more x


Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals


YAWN, Today’s Main Citation Won’t Make Headlines

By Michael McBurney

Controversy grabs attention. It makes news cycles turn. Eyeballs become focused. People stop to listen. People converse about current events. All of these actions help make cash registers ring. Today’s nutrition story won’t do any of those. Unfortunately because the scientific insight is important. What is the message?

Multivitamin use is safe. Multivitamin use is not associated with long-term risk of cardiovascular (CVD) events: myocardial infarction (MI), stroke, or cardiac revascularization or CVD death. The story confirms previous findings.

Rautiainen and colleagues concluded multivitamins don’t increase CVD risk after studying baseline data and follow-up data on 37,193 women participating in the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) for an average of 16.2y. Significant food group-multivitamin statistical interactions were found. Women eating <3 servings of fruit and vegetables daily and using multivitamins had a lower Hazards Ratio (HR = 0.77). Multivitamin use also benefitted women eating <1.62 dairy products per day (HR = 0.93).

In the Physicians Health Study II (PHS II), multivitamin use by men didn’t affect total CVD events but a 39% lower HR was found for fatal MI. Long-term multivitamin supplementation significantly reduced cancer risk by 8% in PHS II. This is all good news. It affirms the safety of multivitamin-mineral supplements. But controversy seems  to drive headlines about multivitamins and the health of men or women. It shouldn’t.

The more important story is boring. YAWN. As the term multivitamin-mineral supplements indicates, they are intended to supplement the diet. Nutritional supplements are not drugs.  Not surprisingly, the benefits of multivitamin-mineral supplements are greatest in those not following dietary food group recommendations. Wow. Exciting? Not so much. Effective? Yes.

Many people are not following dietary recommendations. Multivitamin-mineral supplements can fill nutritional gaps, safely. These facts don’t make for exciting headlines. Unfortunately.

Be smart. Eat moderately. Eat a balanced diet. Exercise regularly. Multivitamin-minerals supplements are safe. Consider them as they are: dietary supplements.

Main Citation

Rautiainen S, Lee I-M, Rist PM, Gaziano JM, Manson JE, Buring JE, Sesso HD. Multivitamin use and cardiovascular disease in a prospective study of women. 2014 Am J Clin Nutr doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.088310

Other Citations

Sesso HD, Christen WG, Bubes V, Smith JP, MacFadyen J, Schvartz M, Manson JE, Glynn RJ, Buring JE, Gaziano JM. Multivitamins in the prevention of cardiovascular disease in men: the   Study II randomized controlled trial. 2012 JAMA doi: 10.1001/jama.2012.14805

Gaziano JM, Sesso HD, Christen WG, Bubes V, Smith JP, MacFadyen J, Schvartz M, Manson JE, Glynn RJ, Buring JE. Multivitamins in the prevention of cancer in men: The Physicians’ Health Study II randomized controlled trial. 2012 JAMA doi: 10.1001/jama.2012.14641