A recent report says that your vitamins are worthless, but take a closer look before  you give up on your one-a-days.  The most recent report comes from the Women’s Health Initiative study, which followed more than 160,000 older women over eight years.

Here is my issue with the study

This is one study. Let us not forget the numbers of studies that have shown the benefits obtained from multivitamins.  The study was undoubtedly large enough and the subjects where monitored over a significant period of time, but there were only a small number of health benefits of measured.  The study looked at whether women who take multivitamins where more protected from heart disease and certain types of cancer. The study did not look at the hundreds of other conditions that may be helped or prevented by taking a multivitamin.  For example, we know that women who take folic acid are less likely to have children with birth defects, but that wasn’t addressed in this study for obvious reasons.  There is no way that a study could measure the effects that multivitamins have on all the conditions that people suffer from.

Diet is best

The study does state that eating a balanced diet is the best way to obtain the necessary vitamins and minerals and I couldn’t agree more, but the how many people eat a balanced diet?  The Standard American Diet or SAD is just that, it is sad.  When was the last time that you had 6 servings of vegetables?  Multivitamins are meant to fill in the gaps where you might have deficiencies; they are not intended to be a replacement for a healthy diet.

My concern about studies like this…

These are big studies that get a lot of press, today this study was on the front page of the health section in the New York Times, which means that a lot of people are going to here the message, “multivitamins are worthless,” which is not what the study showed. The study showed that older women who take multivitamins did not have lower rates of heart disease and some cancers, nothing more.  There is still a lot more that we don’t know about the protective nature of taking vitamins and I still feel that spending a couple bucks each month on a multivitamin is worth it even if we someday find out that it has all been a waste.