Most of us have the following routine at some point every morning: We fill a glass with water, shake a multivitamin out of its bottle, and gulp it down.
And unfortunately? It's probably an enormous waste of time and money.
According to the Women's Health Initiative study, regular use of multivitamins produced no protection from any of the major cancers or from cardiovascular disease. And if your diet is pretty crappy and you're using a multivitamin to try to make up for that, bad news: You'd be better off spending that money on produce, aka "vitamins in their natural packaging" as one dietitian called it, than expensive supplements.
Plenty of studies have already shown that inexpensive drugstore vitamins work just as well as the pricey health food store varieties ... but to find out they don't offer any protection at all? That's just pretty sad.
Of course, other dietitians believe that because the American diet tends to be rich in calories and poor in nutrients, a multivitamin can help fill in gaps ... after all, proper nutrition matters, for more than just preventing cancer or heart attacks. Interestingly, the people who are least likely to need supplements to their diet are the most likely to pop a multivitamin daily ... healthy, white, higher-income people who exercise and eat well.
And personally? I'm going to keep taking mine. A 10-month supply costs me like $20 at Costco, and given that I've been known to go anemic without taking one regularly, it's worth the negligible cost. If you are shelling out for the $30 fancy health food store ones, though, or if you're using it to cover the gaps in a diet of cheeseburgers and soda, then you'd be much better off to apply that cash toward a daily apple or carrot than a pill.
Image via Colin Dunn/Flickr