Unfounded Conclusions of New Multivitamin Study Provide Disservice to the Public

Washington, D.C., November 9, 2020—In response to a new study, “Self-reported health without clinically measurable benefits among adult users of multivitamin and multimineral supplements: a cross-sectional study,” published online, November 9 in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the leading trade association for the dietary supplement and functional food industry, issued the following statement: 

Statement by Andrea Wong, Ph.D., senior vice president, scientific & regulatory affairs, CRN:

“The multivitamin continues to be one of the most popular dietary supplements among Americans and plays an important role in promoting and preserving good health, and for good reason. CRN stresses that the findings of the recent study in no way discount the multivitamin’s many benefits in combatting insufficient nutrient levels and promoting optimum health, nor does it provide basis for consumers to reconsider their decision to take a multivitamin or to take one in the future. 

The many limitations and shortcomings that hinder this study must be taken into account, only some of which are acknowledged by the study’s own authors. For instance, the results of the study are based on survey data, so rather than being determined by a clinician, all measured outcomes are self-reported and therefore, less reliable. The study also does not capture the composition of the multivitamin or multimineral products reported by respondents or the duration or frequency of consumption. It is impossible to know which products were taken or how often respondents took them over the 12-month period covered by the survey, or even how long the subjects had previously been on their regimens. Additionally, the cross-sectional design of this study only provides a snapshot in time of multivitamin use and health outcomes, preventing any determination of causality.

CRN reminds consumers that the primary role of a multivitamin is to fill nutrient gaps and to ensure the public gets the recommended levels of nutrients essential to everyday life. Government data repeatedly demonstrate that Americans fall short in getting the appropriate amount of essential nutrients they need. For example, the 2020 Scientific Report from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), identified vitamins A, C, D, E, and K, calcium, magnesium, dietary fiber, choline and potassium as under-consumed nutrients. To identify recommended levels of these nutrients to avoid deficiency, and then to acknowledge these shortfalls in many Americans’ diets, should alone be a strong justification for the valuable role that multivitamins and minerals can play to help meet those recommended levels when they are not met by diet alone.  

Most multivitamin products contain many of the shortfall nutrients identified by the DGAC and can help Americans fill in nutrient gaps that they consistently fall short on through dietary intake only. The conclusions of the study are a disservice to the public and should not influence consumers’ decision to take a multivitamin or other dietary supplement product. As data continues to show that Americans, particularly low-income populations, do not get the essential nutrients needed from diet alone, taking a multivitamin is a convenient and affordable way to ensure consumers get the nutrients they need.” 

Note to Editor: The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), founded in 1973, is a Washington, D.C.-based trade association representing 180+ dietary supplement and functional food manufacturers, ingredient suppliers, and companies providing services to those manufacturers and suppliers. In addition to complying with a host of federal and state regulations governing dietary supplements and food in the areas of manufacturing, marketing, quality control and safety, our manufacturer and supplier members also agree to adhere to additional voluntary guidelines as well as to CRN’s Code of Ethics. Visit www.crnusa.org. Follow us on Twitter @CRN_Supplements, and LinkedIn.