More Health:

June 27, 2024

Taking multivitamins does not decrease risk of death, new research shows

To prevent chronic diseases, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly have been found to be more beneficial, a Johns Hopkins expert says.

Adult Health Vitamins
Multivitamin Death Risk Source/Image licensed from Ingram Image

New research shows that taking multivitamins on a regular basis has no association with longevity.

One in three healthy adults in the United States takes multivitamins to prevent disease and improve overall health. But new research suggests that regular vitamin use does not lower the risk of death.

The study, published Wednesday in Jama Network Open, analyzed data from nearly 400,000 healthy U.S. adults over a 20-year period and found no link between multivitamin use and lower risk of death from any disease, including heart disease and cancer. 

MORE: FDA warns Horsham-based Bimbo Bakeries USA to stop 'misbranding' products

People who took a daily vitamin, in fact, had a 4% increased risk of mortality.

"Pills are not a shortcut to better health and the prevention of chronic diseases," Dr. Larry Appel, director of the Johns Hopkins Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology and Clinical Research, said in a Johns Hopkins Medicine post about multivitamins. "Other nutrition recommendations have much stronger evidence of benefits – eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and reducing the amount of saturated fat, trans fat, sodium and sugar you eat."

Previous research about whether multivitamins offer protection against diseases has been mixed. Manufacturers change the compositions of multivitamins, so it has been difficult for researchers to look at which vitamins affect outcomes. Previous studies also have been limited by short follow-up times.

The long duration of the new study and its large number of participants enabled researchers to mitigate the effects of possible biases that may have impacted the outcomes of previous studies. 

For instance, healthy people who take multivitamins might also be working out and eating a nutritious diet.

In this study, researchers adjusted outcomes for lifestyle factors including smoking, diet and exercise, and excluded people with chronic diseases. Study participants had an average age of 61.5.

Multivitamins first became available in the 1940s. Multivitamins and multivitamin mineral supplements accounted for 38% of all U.S. vitamin and mineral sales in 2019, an approximately $8 billion market.

Follow us

Health Videos