Do Vitamins Really Work?

I like to start off everyday with a daily vitamin. I usually take two of the chewable gummies once a day, and occasionally I take some vitamin C supplements. With the end of the semester nearing and with the inevitable Penn State Plague waiting to sweep the campus, I am really wondering if these vitamins are truly beneficial to your health? I personally have not gotten sick since I started taking the vitamins, but I am curious if this may be another case of confirmation bias,and the vitamins are only working because people are believing in them?

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According to recent findings posted on WebMD in 2013, people should stop taking these supplements. This article brings in recent studies that show that multivitamins don’t actually have any health benefits. It is said to be suffering from the placebo effect, because the pills themselves are not curing any illnesses, or preventing them for that matter. The placebo effect is when you take a pill, or substance, that has no actual effect but because of belief in the drug, people think it is beneficial. If we read on, you find the idea that vitamins are a way for the rich companies to continue to gain more wealth. But regardless of the money, this industry is clearly still convincing people that the multivitamins work. So if you’re one of these people, consider the following studies.

The article continues to touch on the three studies that were done testing these multivitamins. I will break them down numerically:

  1. The first study tested 6,000 male doctors who were at least 65 years old. Half of the men were randomly given the placebo drug and the others took the vitamin. It followed them and their health for twelve years after they were expected to the take the multivitamin daily. Though only 84 percent said they actually followed through, the test revealed that there was no “significant” difference in the two groups.
  2. The second study was done with 17,000 heart attack survivors who were randomly assigned a placebo or given six daily vitamins to take. While the majority of participants dropped out early, they still found no significant differences after 55 months.
  3. The third study just looked at 27 other studies on the vitamins and the various supplements included in the study. Like we learned in class this an example of meta-analysis, because they are analyzing other studies in an attempt to compile all of the data. Once again, they found these vitamins had no benefits. There was a small potential for decreasing cancer, but they were still thought to be insignificant pills.

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Another article found on the Harvard Health Publications found similar results. The vitamins were thought to potentially work towards preventing cancer, however they were not found to help with the heart or brain. So the daily uses of them were pointless. 

It seems to me that this is plenty of sufficient evidence supporting the idea that vitamins don’t work. With both of these credible sources, it doesn’t seem plausible to me that these vitamins are giving me any sort of health benefits. However, If we are looking at the potential costs to continuing to take the vitamins, it is small to none. So, even with the mounds of evidence ,I do not plan to stop taking my vitamins. Maybe me thinking they are working is enough, and as long as I am not getting sick, I will continue to take them.Also, if there is any chance that I can prevent cancer, I am going to take it. So, what will you do?

2 thoughts on “Do Vitamins Really Work?

  1. Olivia Erb

    This article is actually mind blowing. I have been taking vitamins since I was a young girl. I’ve always thought maybe the placebo affect was in play here but I never wanted to believe it. I mean the vitamins have usually kept me pretty healthy for the most part and if I miss a day or two without taking my vitamins I feel sluggish. So now I am wondering do I actually feel sluggish or is that just the placebo affect telling my mind that I don’t feel good. The studies you found are really good they show that there really is no difference in the groups and that is what is crazy to me. I guess I am a culprit of the placebo effect when it comes to vitamins which blows my mind. I wonder what would happen if I would stop taking my vitamins for a while, I might have to try that out.

  2. Annalise Marie Pilitowski

    Upon reading this post my jaw actually dropped. I have always taken multi vitamins, everyday in fact, and never knew that they had no huge impact on our health. Ever since I started taking them when I started college last year, they have seemed to benefit me and my health. Based on your research, I suppose there never really was a true connection between the vitamins I am taking and improved health. The studies that you mentioned as also very shocking to read. I don’t think anyone would have guessed that there was no difference between those who took the actual vitamins and those who took the placebo. I decided to conduct my own research on this topic because I found it extremely hard to believe that multivitamins have no impact on our health. I actually found that there is truly a spot for vitamins/supplements in our diets because their primary functions are to fill in the nutritional gaps and act as “supplements” to add to our diet, as explained here. So I guess that it it true that the fact that multivitamins don’t significantly affect our health is a misconception because that is not their job. So i wonder if any studies show that those gaps are being filled when we take multivitamins.

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