Multivitamins and supplements are unlikely to benefit the "concerned people", new research shows
- A study of 21,600 people found no measurable improvements in pill use
- Scientists said the benefit lies in the "positive expectation" of effectiveness
- The dietary supplement industry is worth billions of pounds worldwide
They are taken by millions of British people every day in the belief that they will promote good health.
However, research suggests that all of the "worried well" benefits of vitamin pills and mineral supplements could be on the mind.
A study of 21,600 people found that there was no measurable clinical improvement between those who took supplements and those who didn't.
Scientists said all of the benefits are explained by the "positive expectation" of effectiveness rather than hard evidence – and most of the people who take the products are the "concerned people" who are already healthier than others.
A study of 21,600 people found that there was no measurable clinical improvement between those who took supplements and those who didn't (archive image).
The dietary supplement industry is worth billions of pounds worldwide. Up to 24 million Britons – 46 percent of adults – take vitamin pills every day. Experts accept that dietary supplements can be crucial when someone has a known vitamin or mineral deficiency.
However, a number of clinical studies have not found any health benefits for those who do not have such a deficiency.
The latest study, conducted by Harvard University in the United States, asked participants about their health, including daily routine activities and medical history.
A total of 5,000 said they took dietary supplements regularly, 16,660 not. Those who took multivitamins and minerals reported 30 percent better overall health than those who didn't.
Scientists said all benefits are explained by the "positive expectation" of effectiveness rather than hard evidence – and most of the people who take the products are the "well concerned" who are already healthier than others (archive image)
However, there was no difference between those who took and did not take them on any of five mental, physical, or "functional" health outcomes. The researchers suggested that this implies that supplement users believe in the effectiveness of multivitamins and minerals by having positive expectations about the health benefits.
The results suggest that people who are already healthy and have a keen interest in health are more likely to take supplements.
Dr. Carrie Ruxton of the industry-funded Health & Food Supplements Information Service said, "Dietary supplements are used to replenish nutrients in people who wish to meet recommended nutritional needs and should not be viewed as quasi-drugs to treat or prevent disease."
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