A letter was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine that argues daily multivitamin supplementation is a safe and effective way to fortify the diets of individuals to achieve the recommended intake of essential micronutrients (Ann Intern Med. 2014:160(11):807). The letter was written in response to an editorial published in the same journal that claimed there is little to no evidence to support the use of vitamin and mineral supplements by a majority of the U.S. population (Ann Intern Med. 2013;159:850-1).
The response was drafted by a group of scientists led by Balz Frei, Ph.D., from the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. Dr. Frei stated, “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 letter cited findings from other studies to demonstrate that the majority of adults in the United states do not get the estimated average requirement of essential micronutrients, including vitamins A, D, E and K, magnesium, calcium and potassium from their diet (J Nutr. 2011;141:1847-54). The authors also highlight the role that multivitamin and mineral supplements may play in helping to decrease the risk of chronic disease, citing the Physicians’ Health Study II, the largest and longest randomized clinical trial of a multivitamin and mineral supplement conducted to date (JAMA. 2012;308:1871-80). It reported a statistically significant 8 percent reduction in total cancer incidence in male physicians.
“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," said Manfred Eggersdorfer, senior vice president, nutrition science and advocacy at DSM and professor for healthy aging 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."