Multivitamins: “largely useless and can be dangerous”

New research is just the most reactant showing that multivitamins don’t work as well as a lot of Americans had hoped they would. In fact, the CBS Evening News reported, research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine “said vitamins are largely useless and can be dangerous.”

USA Today reports that one “study followed male physicians over age 65 for an average of 11 years and found multivitamins had no effect on cognitive decline.” A separate study indicated that “high-dose multivitamins had no effect on the progression of heart disease in heart attack survivors.”

As a result, the latest studies on vitamins have some medical experts saying “case closed” — it’s time for most consumers to stop wasting money on multivitamins and other supplements, because they have no proven benefits and some possible harms.

The New York Times “Well” blog, in print and online, reports that “in an unusually direct opinion piece” also published in the journal, five physicians “say that for healthy Americans worried about chronic disease, there’s no clear benefit to taking vitamin and mineral pills.” The editorial urges consumers to “stop wasting money” on the products. However, “the authors make an exception for supplemental vitamin D, which they say” should be studied further.

“The message is simple,” says the editorial, signed by two researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, one British researcher and one of the journal’s senior editors, “Most supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death, their use is not justified, and they should be avoided.” After years of study and mostly disappointing results, the editorial says, “enough is enough.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that other recent research has indicated that supplements offer few health benefits.

The AP points out that “the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is deliberating whether vitamin supplements make any difference in the average person’s risk of heart disease or cancer.” The USPSTF, “in a draft proposal last month … said for standard multivitamins and certain other nutrients, there’s not enough evidence to tell.” The task force’s “final decision is expected” in 2013.