NIH to debate multivitamin/mineral science

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Dietary supplement Medicine

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) are to convene an
"impartial, independent" panel to review the available science
behind multivitamin/mineral (MVM) effectiveness and safety to help
consumers make informed choices.

"As more and more Americans seek strategies for maintaining good health and preventing disease, and as the marketplace offers an increasing number of products to fill that desire, it is important that consumers have the best possible information to inform their choices,"​ said the NIH in a statement.

Multivitamin/mineral supplements are regularly taken by over one-third of American adults, equivalent to about 73m people, but, according to NIH, expert recommendations regarding supplement use differ greatly, as does the strength of the science behind the claims.

" In observational studies, MVM use has been associated with better health outcomes but there are few data available from randomized trials to provide more definitive evidence,"​ explained the NIH in a statement.

"Toward that end, this conference is expected to delineate gaps in current knowledge and to provide guidance about how NIH can help to fill those gaps,"​ said the NIH.

The State-of-Science Conference on Multivitamin/mineral Supplements for Chronic Disease Prevention will be held next week, May 15-17, at the Natcher Conference Center in Bethesda, Maryland, and is open to both the public and media.

The conference aims to address the following six questions: What are the current patterns and prevalence of the public's use of MVM supplements? What is known about the dietary nutrient intake of MVM users versus non-users? What is the efficacy of single vitamin/mineral supplement use in chronic disease prevention? What is the efficacy of MVM in chronic disease prevention in the general population of adults? What is known about the safety of MVM for the generally healthy population? What are the major knowledge gaps and research opportunities regarding MVM use?

Dr. Daniel Fabricant, vice president of scientific affairs for industry association, NNFA told "While we are supportive of NIH sponsored research efforts on multivitamin efficacy for chronic disease prevention there are a number of factors that need to be considered regarding the differences in formulations of these products and that there are 'an increasing number of products' to better provide the consumer what they want the most in a free market, choices, which shouldn't be designated as a negative.

"Additionally most don't eat the fruits and vegetables they need to get many of these nutrients and if they do a recent study from the USDA revealed that foods aren't as vitamin rich as they have been in the past.

"We have to get these nutrients somewhere, again from just a common sense approach vitamin supplementation has shown to be a safe, economical and effective approach. We hope these concepts are taken in to consideration by the panel and the focus of the panel is to help design better studies not just generate headlines to make the front page of the news,"​ said Fabricant.

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