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Are multivitamins good for you?

Taking a daily multivitamin has long been seen as a good way to ensure you get all the necessary vitamins and minerals needed to be healthy. There have also been some claims that a daily multivitamin tablet can prevent cancer, heart disease and memory loss. But, is this really the case?

Surprisingly, there has been very little quality research into the benefits of multivitamin tables and the health claims. However, there is some evidence that a daily cocktail of essential vitamins and minerals do actually deliver the nutrients provided in the tablet. Thus, having a vitamin C tablet will provide you body with the levels of vitamin C within the pill. This is particularly true with folic acid supplements, which did have extensive research provided by the UK Government in 2008.

Now we know that a vitamin tablet does give your body all the key nutrients, what about the health claims? Well, most studies found no benefit from multivitamins in protecting the brain or heart. But there are potential benefits and no risks from a one daily standard multivitamin!

A recent piece of research by the Physicians' Heath Study did find some compelling results. However, it should be noted that this was conducted on a small group of healthy, male volunteers.

Researchers looked at the effect of long-term multivitamin use in healthy men on various aspects of health. The researchers found the following:

  • Cancer: Men were 8% less likely to be diagnosed with cancer. The protective effect was greatest in men with a history of cancer.

  • Vision: Lower risk of developing cataracts.

  • Cardiovascular disease: No protection against heart attacks, strokes or death from cardiovascular disease.

  • Brain: No protection against declining memory or mental skills.

The optimists of the study would say that despite no clear evidence of a health benefit, multivitamin supplements are low risk and low cost. It also helps to fill potential gaps in the diet that people may have.

With all this in mind, here are some key points:

  • Eating a healthy and balanced diet, with plenty of whole fruits and vegetables, will always provide your body with the necessary vitamins and minerals. In addition, it will also provide that essential fibre to maintain a healthy digestive system.

  • Taking a daily multivitamin does not have an adverse affect on your body and can 'fill the gaps' of anything that you maybe missing from your diet.

  • Heath benefits claims are not substantially back-up by research. Being active and eating healthily does provide all those health claims!

Overall, it's fine to have a multivitamin as an addition to your healthy and balanced diet.

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