With the argument over the pros and cons of multivitamin use raging in Australia following the publication of a series of contradictory studies on the subject, the Complementary Healthcare Council of Australia has welcomed a printed response by four leading nutrition researchers taking the view that supplements are a safe and effective way to achieve the recommended intake of essential nutrients.
The statement, by B Frei, BN Ames, JB Blumberg and WC Willett, which was published in Annals of Internal Medicine, came in response to an editorial published in the same journal last year entitled “Enough is enough: Stop wasting money on vitamin and mineral supplements”, which they said “ignored decades of nutrition research and diet monitoring of the US population” to conclude that there is no need to take multivitamins.
“The group of nutrition researchers pointed out that the editorial focused on chronic disease and failed to take into account the beneficial effect of multivitamins, the primary benefit being to meet recommended dietary intakes of essential vitamins and minerals,” said Carl Gibson, chief executive of the CHC.
“While the authors refer to the US population in not meeting dietary intake recommendations, here in Australia it has been well established that we, too, don’t eat as well as we should.
“The recently published report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Australia’s eating habits shows that the typical Australian is eating plenty of food but is still starving of quality nutrients.”
Australia lagging behind in vitamins
Indeed, based on self-reporting, just 6.8% of Australia’s population met the recommended intake of vegetables, while just over half met the recommendations for servings of fruit.
These figures, released in April, also showed that around 4m Australian adults were found to be Vitamin D deficient in 2011-12. Vitamin D is essential for the body to absorb calcium effectively, which is important for bone health and muscle function.
“The authors highlight the role that multivitamins can play in improving general health and decreasing the risk of chronic disease,” Gibson added.
“For example, the Physicians’ Health Study II, which is the largest randomised clinical trial of a multivitamin supplement conducted to date, showed a statistically significant 8% reduction in total cancer incidence in male physicians.”