Multivitamins Work: More Evidence

nutrition diet healthA large body of evidence suggests that nutrient deficiencies are widespread amongst Western living populations. This relates largely to the poor quality of the Western diet and the lack of high quality micronutrient dense foods in the diets of most individuals. In particular, levels of vitamin, minerals and antioxidant nutrients are too low. This results in metabolic abnormalities and significantly decreases the antioxidant defences of the individual, leaving them susceptible to a large number of Western lifestyle diseases including cardiovascular disease and cancer. The best solution to this problem is to switch to a traditional based whole food diet that provides higher quality foods which contain adequate levels of nutrients. However, even this may not be a totally complete solution because too often even high quality foods can be deficient in certain nutrients due to modern agricultural and storage methods. Therefore current recommendations are to also consume a multivitamin and mineral supplement to ensure adequate nutrient intake.

multivitamin supplement antioxidant

Multivitamin and mineral formulas can be an effective way to increase levels of nutrients, particularly in those with poor quality diets. Those who are institutionalised, or perhaps do not have access to high quality food for particular reasons can use a multivitamin and mineral supplement to improve their health. However, in this regard there is a large difference between the quality of multivitamin and mineral supplements and care should be taken in selecting a suitable high quality product. However, even if a multivitamin and mineral supplement is taken, individuals should always strive to obtain the highest quality diet they can.

That multivitamins are effective and rebalancing human nutrient requirements has been well evidenced. For example, in one study researchers administered a number of treatments to elderly subjects over 2 years. Before the study started the subjects were deficient  in vitamin C, zinc and selenium. One group received 20 mg zinc and 100 μg selenium. Another group received 120 mg vitamin C, 6 mg of β-carotene and 15 mg vitamin E. Another group received  20 mg zinc, 100 μg selenium, 120 mg vitamin C, 6 mg of β-carotene and 15 mg vitamin E. Following consumption of the relevant nutrients, levels of zinc, selenium and vitamin C returned to the normal range. In some cases there was a 4 fold increase in nutrient levels following supplementation. Subjects receiving supplements also experienced an increase in antioxidant defences, and in particular those subjects receiving supplement had increases in levels of glutathione peroxidase in their blood. Positive results were seen from about 6 months into the study.    

Eat Well, Stay Healthy, Protect Yourself


Girodon, F., Blache, D., Monget, A. L., Lombart, M., Brunet-Lecompte, P., Arnaud, J. Richard, M. J. and Galan, P. 1997. Effect of a two-year supplementation with low doses of antioxidant vitamins and/or minerals in elderly subjects on levels of nutrients and antioxidant defense parameters. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 16(4): 357-365

About Robert Barrington

Robert Barrington is a writer, nutritionist, lecturer and philosopher.
This entry was posted in Antioxidant, Beta Carotene, Micronutrients, Multivitamin Multimineral, Selenium, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Zinc. Bookmark the permalink.