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Dear Lifehacker, I want to eat a healthy, balanced diet, but does that actually include a multivitamin? If I eat well, shouldn’t I get the nutrients I need by default? I assume a multivitamin won’t hurt me, but I don’t want to bother if it isn’t necessary. So should I take a daily multivitamin or not? Thanks, Vexed By Vitamins
Australia’s complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) industry is worth about A$4 billion annually. Around two thirds of Australians use CAM — which includes therapies such as chiropractic and naturopathy, traditional Chinese medicine, vitamins, minerals, nutritional supplements, as well as homoeopathic and aromatherapy products — and there appears to be no sign of this declining. In many cases, the evidence for CAMs having significant beneficial effects is scant. And recent studies have even found that some supplements can be harmful.
We’ve pointed out many times that the scientific evidence for the benefits of taking multivitamins is slim and that a healthy diet should get you the same benefits. That said, we were interested to note one recent study which does suggest that taking a daily multivitamin had a modest but measurable correlation with lower cancer rates.
Visit any supermarket, chemist or health food store and you’ll see a confusingly large range of multi-vitamin products. Resist being confused and resist being them altogether — research by CHOICE suggests that many Australians pointlessly purchase vitamins and don’t understand the effects or dosage requirements of those they do take.