Recent Blog Articles
Post-pandemic weight loss: There’s an app for that
Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia by telemedicine: Is it as good as in-person treatment?
Prediabetes diagnosis as an older adult: What does it really mean?
Is blood sugar monitoring without diabetes worthwhile?
Large review study finds low risk of erectile dysfunction after prostate biopsy
Does exercise help protect against severe COVID-19?
A new Alzheimer’s drug has been approved. But should you take it?
Need physical therapy? 3 key questions your PT will ask
COVID-19 vaccines: Safe and effective for American Indian and Alaskan Native communities
Should we track all breakthrough cases of COVID-19?
The science of supplements is flawed, but taking a daily multivitamin is still worth a try
Half of American men take a daily multivitamin in hopes of protecting themselves from heart disease, cancer, and other problems caused by missing nutrients in their diets. Even though the best studies to date have failed to support this widespread health practice, some Harvard experts think it's still worth a try, according to the April 2014 Harvard Men's Health Watch.
"There are potential benefits and there are no known risks at this time," says Dr. Howard Sesso, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. "It is worth considering a multivitamin as part of a healthy lifestyle."
Despite all the research on vitamins and health, there are only a handful of rigorous scientific studies on the benefits of multivitamins. The Physicians' Health Study II, for which Dr. Sesso is an investigator, is the best one completed so far. It tested a commonly taken multivitamin containing the daily requirements of 31 vitamins and minerals essential for good health.
The results have been mixed, with modest reductions in the occurrence of cancer and cataracts, but no protective effect against cardiovascular disease or declining mental function. While some skeptics point out that we still don't know if taking multivitamins for many years carries unknown risks, Dr. Sesso urges a wait-and-see approach.
"Multivitamin supplementation is low risk and low cost, and it helps to fill potential gaps in the diet that people might have," he says. "There are compelling reasons to consider taking a multivitamin for cancer and eye disease that should be discussed with your physician."
Read the full-length article: "Do multivitamins make you healthier?"
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.