Multivitamins ‘won’t extend your life’, but here’s why you should still take them

Multivitamins won't help you live longer, a new study has found. (Getty Images)
Multivitamins won't help you live longer, a new study has found. (Getty Images)

Many Brits have low levels of vitamins in their systems. In fact, one in six have insufficient levels of vitamin D, which is why it’s common to turn to multivitamins for an extra boost.

However, if you were hoping that popping these multivitamins would give your longevity an extra boost, you may want to think again.

A new large-scale study of nearly 400,000 US adults has found that taking multivitamins won’t help to extend your life, and the risk of dying from any cause was a very small amount higher among the multivitamin users.

The researchers from the US National Institute of Health (NIH) found this data by pooling together results from three large studies totalling 390,124 adults.

The study found that people who regularly took multivitamins also ate better quality diets, and had lower body mass index (BMI) scores.

"This study looked at 390,124 healthy adults in the US and found no evidence that taking multivitamins regularly helps people live longer," Dr Chun Tang, medical director at Pall Mall Medical, tells Yahoo UK.

"However, the study can't rule out that taking multivitamins daily might have other health benefits related to ageing or certain deficiencies. If your diet lacks certain vitamins and minerals, multivitamins can help fill those gaps."

Dr Tang says that, while it is an American study, it can be relevant to people living in the UK as long as we keep a few things in mind.

"People in the US and UK have different demographics, genetics and lifestyles. Their diets aren’t the same, so their nutritional needs vary," he explains.

"Plus, healthcare systems and access to care are different, not to mention the climate and pollution levels. And let's not forget cultural attitudes towards supplements and health can differ too."

Bachelor drinking medication with a glass of water. Hispanic man drinking a supplement capsule in his apartment. Man using a glass of water to take his drugs. Sick man in recovery with a pill
Multivitamins can provide several health benefits. (Getty Images)

While the research has found that taking multivitamins might not help you live longer, Dr Tang says that it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should stop taking multivitamins.

"They can still provide benefits, especially if you have specific dietary deficiencies or nutritional needs that are not being met through your diet alone," he adds.

"Certain groups, like pregnant women, older adults, or those with specific medical conditions, may benefit from taking multivitamins, for example."

Dr Tang says both multivitamins and specific vitamins can help to fill any nutritional gaps in your diet, which can keep you feeling your best.

"Iron boosts your energy levels and keeps your blood healthy, while vitamin D is great for your bones and immune system, especially during the winter months when sunlight is scarce," he explains.

Mid adult Caucasian pregnant woman is smiling while reading label on bottle of prenatal vitamins in local pharmacy. Expecting mother is learning about side effects and benefits of prenatal vitamins and supplements. Customer is standing in aisle and deciding what to purchase from large variety of options. Pharmacist is working in background.
Multivitamins can be beneficial for pregnant women. (Getty Images)

"A little daily boost from these vitamins can make a big difference in your overall health and well-being."

So, how can you decide which vitamins to take? Dr Tang says your first port of call should be to make an appointment with GP if you haven’t been feeling as healthy as you could be.

"Consulting with your doctor or pharmacist is a great next step because they can offer personalised advice based on your health history and dietary habits," he adds.

"There are also blood tests available that can check for specific deficiencies, such as low levels of vitamin D or iron."

Read more