Experts Point Out Blatant Flaws in Recent Multivitamin Study
Your daily multivitamin has been the victim of some bad press recently, but thankfully the health and nutrition experts at Life Extension Magazine have stepped in to set the record straight. After a thorough look at the results of two recent studies published in the Annals of Internal Medicine earlier this month, they uncovered countless methodological flaws—from how the studies were designed to how participant information was monitored and/or collected. The following is a quick recap.
Study #1: Multivitamins and Cognitive Function
Life Extension pointed out several concerns regarding the first study, which looked at the cognitive effects of low-potency multivitamin supplements on aging adult males. Here is what they found.
- Participation requirements were considerably lax: According to the data provided, even participants who followed their multivitamin regimen only two-thirds of the time were considered adherent. Further, in both studies the dropout rates were significantly high.
- Results based on recollection: Instead of asking participants to return any unused product, analysts took their word regarding how often they actually took their supplements. In other words, subjects were asked to think back and remember if/when they had taken them.
- Use of a low-potency multivitamin: The multivitamin used in the cognitive function study had noticeably low levels of key nutrients, including vitamin C (60 mg), vitamin B12 (25 mcg), and selenium (20 mcg).
- Failure to Recognize the Proven Cognitive Benefits of Multivitamins: Even with the low levels of nutrients, some cognitive benefits were seen in this study. However, because those benefits “did not reach statistical significance,” they were virtually overlooked.
Study #2: Multivitamins and Heart Health
Like the cognitive function study, the second study—which looked at the effects of daily multivitamins on cardiovascular function—had several flaws.
- Nearly HALF of Participants Stopped Taking the Multivitamin: Experts agree consistency is the key to obtaining optimal benefits from any health plan. However, an analysis of efficacy was made even though 46% of subjects discontinued the multivitamin regimen during this study.
- Multivitamin Benefits were Minimized: Like the cognitive function study, even though data from the report indicated the multivitamin regimen was beneficial, they did not receive attention because they “did not reach statistical significance.” Further, the defining effect thresholds were abnormally high.
- High Number of Diabetes Patients in Non-placebo Group: Because people with diabetes are known to have a significantly higher risk for cardiovascular disease, the study should have included similar numbers of diabetic subjects in both control groups to achieve a valid outcome. However, the fact that more diabetic subjects were found in the non-placebo group indicates a substantial flaw.
Finally, even though the multivitamin used in this study was described as “high-potency,” it contained dramatically low levels of vitamin D (only 100 IU) and vitamin B12 (100 mcg)—nutrients health experts consider among the most “critically important” for heart health.
This is just a brief overview of what the researchers at Life Extension found (click here to view the full article), but it serves as a reminder that vigilance, education and awareness are critical when it comes to our health and the health of our loved ones. Making sure we acquire the facts about the foods and supplements we consume—and the critical importance of good nutrition—will ultimately help us reach our goal of lasting health and wellness.