Multivitamins Might Just Be A Placebo Effect, Study Says

by Madonna Watts D'Souza
Multivitamins Might Just Be A Placebo Effect, Study Says

December 7, 2020

Along with eating an apple a day, doctors regularly advise their patients to consume multivitamins. While the world waits for vaccines to reach the general population, even their 100% efficacy isn’t guaranteed. In such a scenario, consuming multivitamins to stay healthy seems like a safe bet. As a result, multivitamins have become an essential supplement for everyone. 

Statistics show that one in three Americans religiously take multivitamins and have made it a part of their daily routine. The multivitamin industry globally is a huge one, and figures show that it will be worth $300 billion by 2024.

However, as lovely and nutritious multivitamins sound, many think that they do not have any real effect on the human body. In fact, Harvard’s recent research indicates that there is no clinical evidence or any clinical measures to prove the health benefits of taking multivitamins. The study was conducted by Harvard University’s Dr. Manish Paranjpe.

What Difference Do Multivitamins Make?

A group of scientists collected data on 21,603 adults in the United States who had participated in the 2012 National Health Interview Survey. From the previous data, 4933 participants admitted to regular consumption of multivitamins regularly. The participants were also asked to answer a questionnaire on five physical, psychological, and functional health results.

Some of the questions interrogated the participants if they required help to carry out daily chores and activities. The problems even asked if the participants had a medical history of illness like arthritis, asthma, hypertension, diabetes, etc. The questionnaire further asked if any of the participants had suffered from any health complications in the past 12 months, such as neurological and psychological disorders, musculoskeletal disorders, and memory loss.

Results of the Study

The results showed that participants who consumed multivitamins or mineral tablets daily felt healthier than those who did not take multivitamins or mineral tablets. An in-depth examination indicated that the multivitamins taking participants had reported feeling better in all parts of life irrespective of race, gender, age, and financial conditions.

It was also observed that those who consumed multivitamins regularly were most likely to be older, have higher financial incomes, were women, college graduates, or married. However, researchers failed to recognize any differences between both groups- the takers and non-takers of vitamins. There was no concrete clinical evidence to prove that multivitamins did increase someone’s health.

Placebo Effect.

A word from the experts

In an interview to a media outlet, Dr. Paranjpe revealed, “Regular multivitamin or mineral supplement users reported 30 percent better overall health than those who didn’t take them. But there was no difference between those who did and didn’t take them in any of the five psychological, physical, or functional health outcomes assessed.”

From this, the researchers drew out two possible conclusions: 

1) People who regularly took the multivitamins supplements believed that their health would be given a significant boost, similar to a placebo effect;

2) The participants were generally way more optimistic about their health status irrespective of what they take to boost it.

Limitations of the Study

Dr. Paranjpe further explained: “The effect of positive expectations in those who take multivitamin or mineral supplements is made even stronger when one considers that the majority of them are sold to the so-called worried-well. The multibillion-dollar nature of the nutritional supplement industry means that understanding the determinants of general multivitamin or mineral use has significant medical and financial consequences.”

Experts assert that the observational study can’t prove a causal relationship between multivitamin supplements and the subjectively assessed health. Moreover, subjectively assessed health is not always reliable, and the study didn’t track changes in health before and after taking supplements over the long term.

Nevertheless, the lack of any difference in the health outcomes assessed is in line with other studies indicating that multivitamin or mineral supplements don't improve overall health in the general adult population

- Dr. Manish Paranjpe, Harvard University
Key To Good Health- Be Positive

The study has also revealed that having a positive mindset is advantageous to one’s health. So one thing is sure- there is truth to having a positive attitude for a positive outcome.

This research, however, needs more insight into several other aspects are to be considered to prove that multivitamins don’t or do work. Nevertheless, it should be kept in mind that being positive and radiating positivity is not bad. You are doing good by being little sunshine in everyone’s life and for yourself by doing so.

So always try to wear a lovely smile and focus on your health.


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