Should we take nutrition supplements? – Part 4

The Journal of the American Medical Association.

As recent as 1987, the Journal of the American Medical Association was still promoting bad nutrition advice with their long-standing belief that, “Healthy adult men and healthy adult nonpregnant, nonlactating women consuming a usual, varied diet do not need vitamin supplements.” It was believed that most people could obtain adequate amounts of these nutrients from their diet alone, which is simply not the case. (37)

In 2002, the AMA reversed their policy on vitamin supplements by announcing that the Journal of the American Medical Association would begin advising all adults to take at least one multivitamin each day.

According to Drs. Fletcher and Fairfield of Harvard University who wrote JAMA’s new guidelines, “most people do not consume an optimal amount of all vitamins by diet alone…Recent evidence has shown that suboptimal levels of vitamins, even well above those causing deficiency syndromes, are risk factors for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and osteoporosis…The high prevalence of suboptimal vitamin levels implies that the usual US diet provides an insufficient amount of these vitamins. We recommend that all adults take one multivitamin daily.” (38)

Nutrition Insurance?

“A daily multivitamin is a great nutrition insurance policy.” (39) – Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health 

Harvard Health Letter, Multivitamins: Should you buy this insurance? “Dr. Walter Willett, chair of the Harvard School of Public Health’s nutrition department, has suggested that taking a multivitamin daily is a form of nutritional insurance. He still says it’s a good policy.” (40) Dr. Walter C. Willett, M.D., Dr. P.H., is Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and the most-cited nutritionist in the world.

New York Times- “Dr. Walter Willett, a professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, says it’s reasonable to take a daily multivitamin “for insurance.” Dr. Willett said that clinical trials underestimate supplements’ true benefits because they aren’t long enough, often lasting five to 10 years. It could take decades to notice a lower rate of cancer or heart disease in vitamin takers, he said.” (41)

“Should you take a multivitamin-multimineral supplement? It can certainly provide some nutritional insurance.” (42) -Dr. Eric Rimm, Sc.D., Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition and Director of the Program in Cardiovascular Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Professor of Medicine at the Harvard Medical School.

Wall Street Journal- “I recommend that most people take a multivitamin for one simple reason: Multivitamins are a safe, inexpensive way for people to be sure that they are getting enough of the many vitamins that contribute to good health. They are low-cost nutritional insurance.” (43) -Dr. Meir J. Stampfer, M.D., Dr.P.H., Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

“If someone is concerned about their diet and they don’t think that it’s well-balanced, we should encourage them first to try to have the more balanced diet, but it is a reasonable form of insurance to take a multivitamin. (44)” –Dr. JoAnn Manson, M.D., Dr. P.H., Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School. Chief, Division of Preventive Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

“We know, for the most part, that multivitamins are seen as a kind of insurance against any deficiency that might be present. (45) -Dr. Howard D. Sesso, Sc.D., MPH, FAHA, is an Associate Professor of Medicine and Director of Nutrition Research at the Division of Preventive Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and an Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

“I think that the main reason people should continue to take a multivitamin is to prevent the deficiency state. Even as adults, we don’t always get the right levels of the essential vitamins and minerals.” (46)-Dr. J. Dr. Michael Gaziano, M.D., M.P.H., Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Chief Division of Aging, Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Director of Preventive Cardiology and Director of Massachusetts Veterans Epidemiology Research and Information Center (MAVERIC).

Because MVMs [Multivitamin/Mineral Supplements] are cheap, readily available, and nontoxic (47) , why not recommend that people take an MVM, particularly because much epidemiologic, biochemical, and other evidence points to the need for an adequate supply of vitamins and minerals for optimum function on many levels? At a minimum, taking an MVM is good insurance.” (48)Dr. Bruce Ames, Ph.D., Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, and a senior scientist at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute. Dr. Ames is one of the most cited scientists in history.

“The simplest way to support your nutrition is to take a general multivitamin and mineral supplement providing a broad range of nutrients at standard nutritional levels.”- Mercyhealth (49)

Mercyhealth is a regional health system with seven hospitals and 85 primary and specialty care locations throughout 50 northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin communities comprising 8,000+ employee partners and 850+ employed physicians.

Regarding multivitamins, (50) “Everybody in the world should take one as insurance and try to eat a good diet.” -Dr. Bruce Ames, Ph.D., professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, and a senior scientist at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute. Dr. Ames is one of the most cited scientists in history.

“Because nutrient deficiencies are highly prevalent in the United States (and elsewhere), appropriate supplementation and/or an improved diet could reduce much of the consequent risk of chronic disease and premature aging.” (51) -Dr. Bruce Ames, Ph.D.

“Given the fact that many people are not meeting micronutrient intake recommendations, a daily multivitamin/mineral supplement would offer insurance that most micronutrient needs are met. (52) -Dr. Victoria J. Drake, Ph.D., Manager, Micronutrient Information Center, Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University

“Think about a daily multivitamin as a nutrition insurance policy…(53) Dr. Taylor C. Wallace, Ph.D., CFS, FACN, Adjunct Professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at George Mason University.

“I take a … multivitamin every day as a little insurance policy. (54)” –Dr. David Levitsky, Ph.D., Professor of Nutrition and Psychology at Cornell University.

“When a patient’s diet isn’t ideal, then a multivitamin can offer insurance for the deficient vitamins and/or minerals. (55)-Dr. Eve Glazier, M.D., MBA, and Dr. Elizabeth Ko, M.D. Both Doctors are internists at UCLA Health. Dr. Glazier is an associate professor of medicine; Dr. Ko is an assistant professor of medicine.

“A daily multivitamin is a great nutrition insurance policy.” (56) -IFIS (International Food Information Services)

“Should I take a multivitamin for my health, at least for dietary insurance?…a little insurance against something that may be missing from your diet couldn’t hurt.” (57)Center for Science in the Public Interest.

“Nutrition Supplements: Vitamins, Minerals, and Non-Nutrient Supplements…The original (and still important) method of using nutrients involves taking them at around the level of nutrition needs. This method may be considered nutrition insurance for the majority of us who don’t get all the nutrients we need from foods.” (58) Beth Israel Lahey Health Winchester Hospital, Winchester, Mass.

Why Take Vitamins and Supplements? They operate as, “a great insurance policy against developing nutrient deficiencies,” they can “benefit immunity, mood, muscular function, and mental acuity,” says Clinical Dietician Jordan Jennewine, MS, RDN, LD, CSSD, of Kroger Health. (59)

“I look at vitamin-mineral supplements as a bit of inexpensive nutrition insurance…” (60)Dr. Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., L.R.D., North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and Associate Professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.

“We recommend that twice a day, most people take a half a multivitamin, containing important nutrients at levels close to their recommended daily allowance. It’s a great, inexpensive insurance policy against an imperfect diet. (61)Dr. Mehmet Oz, M.D., and Dr. Mike Roizen, M.D. Dr. Oz is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Dr. Roizen is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of the Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic.

“Think of it this way: multivitamins can be an insurance policy. They can potentially help you fill gaps in your nutrition…” (62)Rosalyn D’Angelo, Bupa Dietitian, Australia

“You should only take multivitamins “sort of as an insurance policy.”’ (63)Dr. Christopher R. D’Adamo, Ph.D., Director of research and education at the University of Maryland Medical School’s Center for Integrative Medicine.

“A daily multivitamin is a great nutrition insurance policy.” (64) -Community Health of Central Washington.

“A daily multivitamin is a great nutrition insurance policy.” (65)United Way of Southeastern Connecticut.

“A daily multivitamin is a great nutrition insurance policy.” (66) – Atlantic Cape Community College Health Office.

Position of the American Dietetic Association: Nutrient Supplementation

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) advocates meeting nutritional needs through wise selection of a wide variety of foods, but has adopted a policy statement recognizing that “Many Americans do not consume the amount and types of foods necessary to meet recommended micronutrient intakes,” and that additional nutrients from supplements “can help some people meet their nutrition needs as specified by science-based nutrition standards such as the Dietary Reference Intakes.” (67)

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois– “Supplements may be beneficial in safeguarding the body against deficiencies of vital nutrients.” (68)

“This research makes a good case for the daily use of a multivitamin. I like to think of it as a nutrition insurance policy that helps fill in the gaps for those nutrients you may not be getting in your diet.” (69)

“I remember Gina Sunderland’s advice: take your nutritional insurance. See Sunderland, a Winnipeg-based registered dietician, is a big fan of taking multivitamins a.k.a. our nutritional insurance, in part to offset the I shouldas.” (70)

“Healthy food is the best source of most nutrients, although during pregnancy your daily prenatal vitamin is good nutrition insurance.” (71) -Trihealth

“Don’t think of supplements as something you don’t need. You definitely need supplements.” (72)

-Dr. David Heber, M.D., Ph.D., FACP, FACN. Professor Emeritus of Medicine and Public Health, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and UCLA School of Public Health. Founding Director, UCLA Center for Human Nutrition. Director, NCI-funded Clinical Nutrition Research Unit. Member, UCLA Collaborative Centers for Integrative Medicine; Member, UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center


A multivitamin-mineral supplement is one low-cost way to ensure intake of the Recommended Dietary Allowance of micronutrients throughout life.” (47) Dr. Bruce Ames, Ph.D., Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, and a senior scientist at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute. Dr. Ames is one of the most cited scientists in history.

“The potential benefits of MVM [Multivitamin/Mineral] supplements likely outweigh any risk in the general population and may be particularly beneficial for older people.” (73)Elizabeth M. Ward, MS, RD, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association for nearly 10 years.

“Taking a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement not only helps fill known nutritional gaps in the diet of most persons in the United States (thereby ensuring normal body function and supporting good health) but may have the added benefit of helping to reduce the risk for some chronic diseases.” (34)

Dr. Balz Frei, Ph.D., Director & Endowed Chair Emeritus, Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. (34)

Dr. Bruce Ames, Ph.D., Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, and a senior scientist at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute. Dr. Ames is one of the most cited scientists in history.  (34)

Dr. Jeffrey B. Blumberg Ph.D., FACN, CNS, Professor Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy Senior Scientist, Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging Tufts University. (34)

Dr. Walter C. Willett, M.D., Dr. P.H., is Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and the most-cited nutritionist in the world. (34)

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Vitamins and minerals are substances your body needs to grow properly, function normally and stay healthy. It’s possible — and highly recommended — that you get these substances from the foods you eat. However, it sometimes can be difficult to get the recommended amount of some vitamins and minerals from diet alone. That’s why it’s not unusual to hear that taking a multivitamin or other supplement on a daily basis can make good sense.” (74)

Those who do not use vitamin supplements had significantly higher prevalence of inadequate vitamin intakes…” (23)

“The use of dietary supplements has the potential to lower the prevalence of inadequate dietary intakes among adults for many micronutrients.” (23) (75, 76, 77)

“A large proportion of older adults do not consume sufficient amounts of many nutrients from foods alone. Supplements compensate to some extent, but only an estimated half of this population uses them daily. These widespread inadequacies should be considered when developing recommendations for supplement use for clients in this age group. Modifying dietary attitudes may result in a higher rate of supplement use in this at-risk population.” (75)

Dietary supplements constitute an important source of nutrients for large segments of the population, and more than one-half of the US population reports usage.” (76)

“Dietary supplement use is associated with higher prevalence of groups meeting the AI (Adequate Intake) for calcium and vitamin D.” (77)

The ability of the skin to use ultraviolet light to synthesize vitamin D3 also decreases with age and is inefficient in dark-skinned people. Because dietary sources of vitamin D3 are not plentiful, supplements are recommended for those groups” (78, 48).

“Dietary supplements (DS) can be an important source of vitamins and minerals to prevent inadequate dietary intakes.” (79)

With all these experts recommending supplementation of necessary nutrients, why would anyone not do it? Why would any healthcare provider not recommend the same when we see overwhelming evidence for widespread nutrient deficiencies?


Once again the self-proclaimed “Real Doctor”, is debunked and I’m just getting started 🙂

To your health,

Dr. Farrah®


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