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DSM highlights importance of multivitamin supplementation in addressing nutritional shortfalls

Kaiseraugst, CH, 03 Jun 2014 12:00 CEST

DSM welcomes the publication of a letter in the Annals of Internal Medicine today1, which argues that daily multivitamin supplementation is a safe and effective way to fortify the diet of individuals to achieve the recommended intake of essential micronutrients. The letter was written in response to a previous communication2, which claimed that there is little or no evidence to support the use of vitamin and mineral supplements by the majority of the population in the United States (US).

The response was drafted by a group of scientists led by Dr. Balz Frei, Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. Dr. Frei comments: “It is widely accepted that a well-balanced diet is the best way for an individual to get most essential nutrients, yet only a small proportion of people in the US actually follow the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. As a result, the majority of the US population does not meet the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations for the dietary intake of all vitamins and essential minerals. Taking a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement formulated at approximately the Daily Value is an effective and low cost way to fill nutritional gaps in individuals, and long-term use is not associated with any adverse health effects.”

The evidence cited in the letter includes the findings of numerous studies to demonstrate that the majority of adults in the US do not get the Estimated Average Requirement of essential micronutrients, including vitamins A, D, E and K, magnesium, calcium and potassium from their diet3. The authors also highlight the role that multivitamin and mineral supplements may play in helping to decrease the risk of chronic disease. For example, the Physicians’ Health Study II is the largest and longest randomized clinical trial of a multivitamin and mineral supplement conducted to date and reported a statistically significant 8% reduction in total cancer incidence in male physicians4.

There is a strong body of evidence to demonstrate the benefits that can be gained from daily multivitamin use, but so-called ‘sensational’ headlines often gain coverage due to the controversial nature of the content,” says Prof. Manfred Eggersdorfer, Senior Vice-President, Nutrition Science & Advocacy at DSM and Professor for Healthy Ageing at the University of Groningen. “These conflicting messages can only confuse consumers and it is important that scientists, healthcare professionals and governments respond collectively to consistently reinforce the wealth of existing safe science. Today, we are joining with Dr. Frei and his fellow scientific experts to highlight the critical role that daily multivitamin supplementation can play in overall nutrition and health, as well as the need for ongoing research into potential health benefits.”

1) Frei B, Ames BN, Blumberg JB, Willett WC. Enough is enough [Letter]. Ann Intern Med. 2014:160(11):807
2) Guallar E, Stranges S, Mulrow C, Appel LJ, Miller ER 3rd. Enough is enough: Stop wasting money on vitamin and mineral supplements [Editorial]. Ann Intern Med. 2013;159:850-1.
3) Fulgoni VL 3rd, Keast DR, Bailey RL, Dwyer J. Foods, fortificants, and supplements: Where do Americans get their nutrients? J Nutr. 2011;141:1847-54.
4) Gaziano JM, Sesso HD, Christen WG, Bubes V, Smith JP, MacFadyen J, et al. Multivitamins in the prevention of cancer in men: the Physicians' Health Study II randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2012;308:1871-80.