Scientific finding: Multivitamins are an absolute placebo

Scientific finding: Multivitamins are an absolute placebo
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Scientific finding: Multivitamins are an absolute placebo.

The health benefits of taking multivitamins and supplements are entirely in our minds, a new study shows. People's positive expectations are the real benefits of multivitamins and mineral pills, as there is no hard evidence to the contrary, the researchers said.

A number of clinical studies have failed to find measurable health benefits from taking vitamin or mineral supplements, according to Study Finds. This prompted Dr. Manish Parangpe of Harvard University to investigate whether the subconscious is behind health improvements among those who take popular supplements.

"The multibillion-dollar financial benefits for the food supplement industry mean that breaking the tariffs on widespread multivitamin or mineral use will have significant medical and financial implications", Parangpe said.

For the study, researchers collected data on 21,603 adults in the United States who participated in the National Health Study in 2012. 4,933 people reported taking multivitamins or mineral pills regularly. Participants were asked to self-assess their health and were tested for five results for physical, psychological and functional health. Questions included whether people needed help with routine daily activities and had a history of ten long-term health conditions, including high blood pressure, asthma, diabetes and arthritis. They were also asked if they had any health problems in the last 12 months, such as infections, memory loss, neurological and musculoskeletal problems, and psychological stress.

"Regular consumers of multivitamins or mineral supplements report 30% better overall health than those who have not taken them," says Parangpe. "But there was no difference between those who took them and did not take them in any of the five assessed psychological, physical or functional outcomes".

An in-depth analysis shows that people who have taken multivitamins or mineral supplements tend to believe that they are in better health, regardless of their race, gender, education, age and income. Researchers offer two possible explanations for the findings. Either people who take supplements regularly simply believe that they will improve their health, or they are usually more positive about their personal health, no matter what they take.

There is growing evidence that the power of positive thinking can improve a variety of health conditions.

"The lack of any difference in the assessed health outcomes is in line with other studies that show that multivitamin or mineral supplements do not improve overall health among the general adult population", the doctor concluded.

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