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Multivitamin benefits could be all in the mind

Multivitamin benefits could be all in the mind

There were no measurable clinical differences between the health of multivitamin users and non-users. The health benefits of taking multivitamins may be all in the mind, according to new research.

A team from Harvard University conducted a study and found no measurable clinical differences when they compared the health of multivitamin users with non-users, although those who took the pills regularly felt they were in better health.

The study, published in ‘BMJ Open’, analysed data on supplement intake from more than 21,600 American adults and found no difference between multivitamin users and non-users in regards to needing help with routine daily activities; a history of long-term conditions such as high blood pressure, asthma, diabetes and arthritis; psychological distress; or health problems such as infections or memory loss over the past year.

However, 30 per cent of regular users were more likely to rate their overall health as good, very good, or excellent, and this positive self-reporting was consistent across all race, sex, and education groups.

The findings showed that regular multivitamin and minerals (MVM) users were significantly older, had higher household incomes than non-users, and were also more likely to be women, educated, married, and to have health insurance.

The researchers suggest that regular users believe in the effectiveness of multivitamins by "harbouring a positive expectation regarding the health benefits" or that MVM users are just naturally more positive about their personal health, with them stating that the study adds to evidence which supports the notion of the "power of positive thinking" when it comes to health.

"The effect of positive expectations in the MVM user community is made even stronger when one considers that the majority of MVM and supplements are sold to the so-called 'worried-well' population who may assign greater weight to the purported health benefits of dietary supplements and alternative therapies," they said.


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