Drawn to the allure of multivitamins and dietary supplements filling nutritional gaps in their diet, people in the U.S. in 2021 spent close to $50 billion on vitamins and dietary supplements.
But Northwestern Medicine scientists say for non-pregnant, otherwise healthy Americans, vitamins are a waste of money because there isn’t enough evidence they help prevent cardiovascular disease or cancer.
“Patients ask all the time, ‘What supplements should I be taking?’ They’re wasting money and focus thinking there has to be a magic set of pills that will keep them healthy when we should all be following the evidence-based practices of eating healthy and exercising,” said Dr. Jeffrey Linder, chief of general internal medicine in the department of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
Linder and fellow Northwestern Medicine scientists wrote an editorial that will be published June 21 in JAMA that supports new recommendations from the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), an independent panel of national experts that frequently makes evidence-based recommendations about clinical preventive services.
Based on a systematic review of 84 studies, the USPSTF’s new guidelines state there was “insufficient evidence” that taking multivitamins, paired supplements or single supplements can help prevent cardiovascular disease and cancer in otherwise healthy, non-pregnant adults.
“The task force is not saying ‘don’t take multivitamins,’ but there’s this idea that if these were really good for you, we’d know by now,” Linder said.
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