Are multi-vitamins really worth spending hundreds of rupees

Researchers examined evidence about efficacy and impact of supplements in three most recent studies

Web Desk
A representational image of pills. — Reuters
A representational image of pills. — Reuters

The sedentary lifestyles and other worries of life have made health become a major concern among adults. People nowadays develop medical conditions as they age, faster than the people of the previous generation.

This is a reason that people have added supplements of necessary nutrients to their lives to avoid deficiencies leading to health issues.

As per an article published by John Hopkins Medicine, 50% of the adult American population including older persons aged 65 and above use multivitamins or mineral supplements on a regular basis.

The money spent on the purchase of these supplements exceeds $12 billion annually, an amount that nutrition experts say might be better spent on nutrient-packed foods like fruit, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products.

If this is the amount in US currency, one could imagine what would be the amount if spent in developing countries like Pakistan.

The publication cited an editorial in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine titled “Enough Is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements,” where the Johns Hopkins researchers examined evidence about the efficacy and impact of supplements in three most recent studies.

What did they find?

The researchers concluded that multivitamins are "not a shortcut" to healthier life and don’t help with reducing risks of heart disease, cancer, memory loss, any other form of cognitive decline or early death.

They even noted that higher doses of vitamin E and beta-carotene supplements appear to be harmful.

On contrary, eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and reducing the amount of saturated fat, trans fat, sodium and sugar can have bigger benefits.

However, there is an exception for supplemental folic acid for women of childbearing potential.

"Folic acid prevents neural tube defects in babies when women take it before and during early pregnancy. That’s why multivitamins are recommended for young women.”