Multivitamins: Do We Really Need Them?

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DANVILLE -- You may have heard about a new study that says multivitamins are a waste of money. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University said this week multivitamins have no proven benefits and some possible harms.

The vitamin shelves at Weis Markets in Danville are filled with dozens of different kinds of supplements. John Payne of Washingtonville says he has been taking vitamins since he was a teenager.

"I take probably seven or eight different kinds of vitamins everyday, religiously," Payne said.

He is not alone. According to Doctor Christopher Still at Geisinger Medical Center near Danville, more than half of all adults in the United States take some sort of vitamin. But an editorial published in this week's Annals of Internal Medicine, a medical journal, says taking multivitamins is a waste of money.

"You think that vitamin c is good so taking two grams of vitamin c is better, but really it's not. Our body can only metabolize so many," Dr. Still said.

Dr. Still is the Director of Weight Management and Nutrition at Geisinger Medical Center. While he agrees that megavitamins in large doses are not necessary, he sees nothing wrong with multivitamins.

"I recommend multivitamins, the cheap generic vitamins. You don't have to buy the most expensive ones. Most likely they're all water-soluble and you'll just void them out," Still said.

But Dr. Still says if you eat healthy food you should not need a multivitamin, and a multivitamin should not be a substitute for a well-balanced diet.

"But because life happens and we don't always eat a balanced meal everyday, I think a cheap, generic multivitamin would prove beneficial to everybody," Still said.

The study did raise some red flags in the minds of some people who take vitamins.

"I feel that I'm going to continue to take my vitamins and talk to my doctor, see what my doctor says," Helen Penman said.

John Payne says the study will not convince him to stop taking his multivitamins.

"I find by taking them I don't get sick. It seems to work for me," Payne said.

Dr. Still says even if you do take a multivitamin, he recommends you do not smoke, eat healthy and exercise.



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