In the United States, 40 - 50% of the men and women 50 years of age or older regularly use multivitamin/mineral (MVM) supplements, making the annual sales of these supplements over $11 billion. However, the question remains whether using MVM supplements is beneficial to health. This article reviews the results of randomized studies of MVM supplements and individual vitamins/mineral supplements in relation to overall mortality and incidence of chronic diseases, particularly cancer and ischemic heart disease. The results of large-scale randomized trials show that, for the majority of the population, there is no overall benefit from taking MVM supplements. Indeed, some studies have shown increased risk of cancers in relation to using certain vitamins.
Keywords: cancer; coronary heart disease; minerals; mortality; vitamins.