NIH Panel" More Informed Approach to Multivitamin / Mineral Use for Chronic Disease Prevention

An independent panel convened by the NIH Office of Medical Applications of Research and the Office of Dietary Supplements assessed the available evidence on the safety and effectiveness of multivitamin/minerals (MVMs). The panel made recommendations regarding certain specific supplements but ultimately concluded that more rigorous scientific research is needed before strong recommendations can be made regarding MVM use to prevent chronic diseases. The panel’s findings pertain to the generally healthy population, and do not include pregnant women, children, or those with disease. The panel recommended: (not all inclusive) * Combined use of calcium and vitamin D supplementation for postmenopausal women to protect bone health. * That anti-oxidants and zinc be considered for use by non-smoking adults with early-stage, age-related macular degeneration, an eye condition that can cause blindness. * That women of childbearing age take daily folate to prevent neural tube defects (birth defects of the brain and spinal cord) in infants. Conversely, the panel found no evidence to recommend beta carotene supplements, a form of vitamin A, for the general population, and strong evidence to caution smokers against taking them. Specifically, beta-carotene was linked to an increase in lung cancer among smokers who took the vitamin regularly. In looking specifically at MVMs for chronic disease prevention, however, the panel found that the available data are insufficient to make a firm recommendation for or against their use in the general population. For full text of the panel’s draft state- of-the-science statement see