What is the association between long-term, daily multivitamin use and mortality in generally healthy adults? That was the question presented in a recent commentary in JAMA Network Open titled Multivitamin Use and Mortality Risk in 3 Prospective US Cohorts. The experts, from the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, concluded: "In this cohort study of 390,124 US adults without a history of major chronic diseases, we did not find evidence to support improved longevity among healthy adults who regularly take multivitamins. However, we cannot preclude the possibility that daily MV use may be associated with other health outcomes related to aging." Summing up their findings, they said their findings suggest that multivitamin use to improve longevity is not supported.

Following the study, mainstream media headlines included: 

Industry Responds to Multivitamin / Longevity News

The Natural Products Association (NPA) and the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) responded to the study. “Nearly 80% of Americans use dietary supplements as a way to support their health and wellness," said NPA President and CEO Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D. "Obviously, there is no magic bullet for mortality, however, diet and exercise are bullet-proof for life-long health goals. Unfortunately, this study peddles more of the same information NPA has spent nearly 90 years fighting.”

CRN stressed that multivitamins play a critical role in filling essential nutrient gaps, particularly among vulnerable populations. Looking at the data, CRN said research indicates that a significant proportion of Americans do not meet the recommended daily intake for several essential micronutrients. "According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), substantial percentages of the population fall short in their intake of vitamins A, C, D, E, and K, as well as calcium, magnesium, and potassium. In addition, the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans report that most people do not consume enough of certain nutrients such as vitamin D, calcium, and potassium. These are nutrients of public health concern. Multivitamins serve as a practical solution to bridge these gaps and ensure adequate intake of essential nutrients, supporting overall health and well-being."

CRN also pointed to major research showing the benefits of multivitamins. The COcoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study (COSMOS-MIND), conducted by researchers at Wake Forest and Harvard University, demonstrated that participants who took a daily multivitamin experienced improved memory performance, effectively delaying cognitive aging by approximately three years. In addition, CRN's annual Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements shows that multivitamin users report better overall health.

“There is substantial evidence supporting the role of multivitamins in addressing nutritional needs, reducing the risk of specific diseases and health conditions, and supporting overall health,” said Andrea Wong, Ph.D., SVP, Science and Regulatory Affairs, CRN. “Analyzing mortality rates in isolation fails to recognize the range of health benefits of multivitamin use identified in rigorous scientific studies, including the reduction of birth defects, reducing cancer risk, slowing cognitive decline, and many others.”

Dr. Wong added that headlines sparked by the NIH study focus only on mortality, but not quality of life. Consumers should not be discouraged from their multivitamin regimens, she noted, particularly where individuals are aware their diets are not providing the full range of nutrients that are necessary.

Steve Mister, President and CEO of CRN, added, "Multivitamins are a vital component of Americans' health regimens. The evidence supporting their benefits is robust, compelling, and continues to grow.”

Additionally, CRN noted, the report Supplements to Savings: U.S. Health Care Cost Savings from the Targeted Use of Dietary Supplements, 2022–2030, specifies the chronic diseases avoidable with preventive care, and reveals the nine supplements and intake levels needed to realize billions in healthcare savings.

Related: COSMOS Trial: A Daily Multivitamin Reduces Cognitive Aging

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