Vitamin RX

Americans are hooked on multivitamins despite a large void in clinical evidence suggesting many of these supplements are beneficial. Now, a large study finds that the majority of vitamin poppers are taking the supplements on their own; without the recommendation or encouragement of their doctors.

So, the new study published recently in JAMA Internal Medicine suggests most folks are really self-medicating, taking the supplements based on their own beliefs (right or wrong) that such multivitamins are beneficial.

Researchers affiliated with several governments medical and research organizations collected data on 12,000 adults who took part in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which concluded in 2010. The researchers found that 45 percent of those taking multivitamins did so because they believed it would improve their healthy. A relatively smaller percentage (22 percent) said they were taking supplements (such as fish oil or heart health or calcium for bone health) on the advice of their doctor.

Interestingly, this study was released in close proximity to two other studies that paint a conflicting picture on the role vitamins play in our health. A study reported in the Nov. 2012 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association found multivitamins did not appear to prevent heart attacks, while another study reported in the same journal found they may play a small role in reducing cancer risk in men.

The take away:  Those vitamins could be an expensive habit better spent on a fresh fruits and veggies or a gym membership.