Are multiple vitamin/mineral pills worth the money?

March 25, 2013 | Peggy Martin


I admit I have taken a multiple vitamin (multivitamin) at times… just a little insurance against something that might be missing in my diet. However, the last time the bottle was empty, I did not get more.

Why did I not get more?  I had two reasons.

First, I looked at the nutrition evidence and did not  find a good reason to take them.  I reviewed several sources that I use for reliable nutrition information. These include Tufts Health and Nutrition Newsletter, Nutrition Action Health Letter, Mayo Clinic web site, and research articles.  The trend was clear.  There is no lasting benefit from taking a daily multivitamin and mineral pill. They do not guarantee protection against disease. They do not provide energy (though some contain caffeine to give you a jolt). They do not provide all the 40 plus nutrients and phytochemicals we need.

Yes, some people like pregnant women, older adults, and people with diseases limiting nutrient absorption or dietary intake need supplements. But people like me should focus on eating fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, and low-fat dairy.

Second, I decided that my money would be better spent at the grocery store. When I eat a variety of food I get the 40 nutrients and phytochemicals I need instead of just the 10-15 that are in the multiple vitamin pills.

If you do decide to take a multivitamin, or if your doctor recommends it, ConsumerLab says you do not need to pay more than $0.10 a day.  Their tests revealed almost no connection between the price and quality of multivitamins.

Peggy Martin

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