Multivitamins can safely improve nutrient supply and overcome problems of inadequacy

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

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A daily multivitamin/mineral supplement can help fill nutrient shortfalls “without concern for its long-term safety”, says a new review paper from Germany.

The review of randomized, controlled studies that supplemented with least nine vitamins and three minerals at 100% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) concluded that that “MVM [multivitamin/mineral] can be safe for long-term use (more than 10 years).”

Andrea Wong, vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs at the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), told us that the paper adds to our understanding of research of MVM, and supports their role in filling nutrient gaps, and for various lifestages and aging.

“It also reinforces the safety for both the general healthy population and for vulnerable populations,”​ she said.

Despite the potential to fill nutrient gaps, many Americans continue to fail to reach the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) for a number of key nutrients. According to NHANES data, 74% of individuals fall below the EAR for vitamin D. The number is 67% for vitamin E, 46% for magnesium, 39% for calcium, 35% for vitamin A, and 31% for vitamin C.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans​ should play a very important role in improving nutrient status, said Dr Wong. She added that consumers are looking at them, and the most recent version was very consumer friendly.

Americans are consistently falling short on a number of nutrients, she said, with nine listed as shortfall nutrients (potassium, dietary fiber, choline, magnesium, calcium, and vitamins A, D, E, and C), and four listed as “nutrients of public health concern” (calcium, potassium, dietary fiber, and vitamin D).

“We need to have better consumer education not only with industry but also with healthcare providers,” ​said Dr Wong. “How much are you getting from your diet? That’s where you need that extra boost. And it’s not about meeting EARs, it’s about meeting RDAs.”

Doses

The research challenges statements made by Danish researchers to our European sister publication yesterday​: Researchers from the National Food Institute at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) reported that six out of 10 Danes take at least one vitamin or mineral supplement despite them getting enough from their diet alone, and urged consumers to buy supplements that contained less than 100% of RDAs to avoid the risk of overdosing on certain micronutrients.

Senior researcher Anja Biltoft-Jensen told NutraIngredients manufacturers should change products to offer no more than 50% of the RDAs.

However, the new paper in Nutrition​ by Prof Hans Biesalski and Jana Tinz from the Institute of Biological Chemistry and Nutrition at the University of Hohenheim concluded that: “MVM are safe at physiological doses (100% DRI) in the short and the long term, whereas adverse effects may occur if single vitamins at high doses are consumed.

“Because the individual need may be greater in cases of different chronic or acute diseases, more or less severe micronutrient gaps may occur from time to time. An MVM can help to improve the nutrient supply and overcome problems of inadequacy without concern for its long-term safety.”

“Despite a balanced and overall healthy diet, micronutrient gaps may occur from time to time,” ​added Biesalski and Tinz. “MVM supplement consumption has been shown to reduce dietary intake gaps and to improve measures of nutritional status without exceeding the DRI or UL. Overcoming these nutritional gaps can help to counteract potential health issues caused by inadequacy.”

Source: Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2016.02.013
“Multivitamin/mineral supplements: rationale and safety – A systematic review”
Author: H.K. Biesalski, J. Tinz

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