Amid a flurry of disinformation from mainstream media claiming multivitamins are a waste of money, a quietly-released study has shown one of the great benefits of taking them. Men consuming a multivitamin each day showed an 8% reduction in risk of cancer across the board.

Scientists from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in conjunction with those at Harvard Medical School used data from the Physicians’ Health Study II, a large-scale, randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled investigation of 14,641 male physicians in the U.S., initially aged 50 or older, with a mean age of 64.3 years. These men were followed from 1997 through June 1, 2011. Findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

For the research, participants were divided into two matched groups in terms of medical history and risk factors for cancer. One group took a daily multivitamin throughout the study period, while the other group took a placebo.

Dr. Howard Sesso, one of the lead researchers said:

Many studies have suggested that eating a nutritious diet may reduce a man’s risk of developing cancer. Now we know that taking a daily multivitamin, in addition to addressing vitamin and mineral deficiencies, may also be considered in middle-aged and older men.”

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) has stated that “Consistent use of multivitamins and other key supplements can promote good health and help prevent disease.” Their work documented that ongoing use of multivitamins (preferably with minerals) positively impacts all age groups ranging from the elderly to the prenatal.

Reviewing studies spanning more than a decade, the Benefits of Nutritional Supplements is the title of a 100 page CRN report published in 2012. These studies measured the health benefits of multivitamins and other nutritional supplements including vitamin B complex and vitamins C, D and E, as well as calcium and omega-3 fatty acids from fish oils.

Read: Nutrition Nonsense – 10 ‘Health’ Foods that are Unhealthy

CRN vice president Annette Dickinson, Ph.D. noted that while it is never too late to start incorporating supplements into a healthy lifestyle, there is compelling evidence that consistent long-term use provides the strongest benefits.

Highlights of the CRN report included:

  • Birth defects could be reduced by 70% if potential mothers used multivitamins with folic acid.
  • Routine use of multivitamins with minerals by the elderly could improve immune function and reduce infectious disease.
  • Calcium and vitamin D could reduce the rate of hip fractures among the elderly by 20%.
  • A prevention oriented approach to health and diet is very cost effective. If the occurrence of cardiovascular disease, stroke and hip fracture were delayed by five years, U.S. health care cost savings would equal $89 billion annually.

You Can’t Count on Food for Complete Nutrition

Most of naysayers for multivitamins claim that food provides everything people need. While it is true that food once did provided everything needed for a long and healthy life, we don’t have that kind of food anymore. In fact, the nutritionally value of food has depleted measurably.

Today we have widespread depletion of minerals and other nutrients in crop soils, resulting in deficiencies. Without adequate minerals, vitamins become worthless. And the average American diet consists of mostly processed, genetically modified, refined, transported, stored, cooked, and packaged food that no longer has integrity, and in some cases is almost worthless.

With that being said, taking multivitamins should not make up for nutritionally poor meals. A whole foods diet should still be the foundation of nutrition. Whole foods provide the best synergies of nutrients and create in you a life force that can never be replicated by swallowing a few capsules. Supplements should be what the name implies – something you take to supplement a whole foods diet.

Here’s an example. If you can buy locally-produced broccoli grown in organic soil, you may not get all the trace minerals you need, but it will provide most of the nutrition it was meant to give. If you buy factory-farmed broccoli from the supermarket, you will be getting broccoli grown in soil virtually devoid of minerals except for a few added from chemical fertilizer. And that broccoli may have traveled for as much as 2000 miles and spent up to a week or more in cold storage.

Take it home, throw it in the microwave, and what comes out will have lost a great percentage of its anti-cancer nutrients.

5 More Studies that Give Thumbs up to Multivitamins

  • 1. A study from the University of Illinois suggests that the supplementing of certain micronutrients may improve or maintain cognitive function.
  • 2. Another study from Massachusetts highlights the possibility that multivitamin and mineral supplements may help prevent anemia, neural tube defects, osteoporosis, and prevention or delay in cataract formation.
  • 3. Scientists from the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences at the National Institutes of Health, have reported that multivitamin use strengthens telomeres. Telomeres are active in keeping chromosomes healthy.
  • 4. Scientists in New Mexico had found that multivitamin use leads to a better outcome in smokers.
  • 5. Research using results from the Mayo Clinic lung cancer cohort found that vitamin/mineral supplementation was associated with better survival and quality of life in that cohort.

Storable Food