Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Multivitamins linked to earlier death, study finds

Stockbyte/(c) Stockbyte

All those vitamins you're dutifully taking with your OJ each morning may not be doing as much good as you hope. In fact, a new study out of the United States has found that women taking multivitamins may even have slightly higher death rates than those getting their nutrients from food alone.

The University of Minnesota study followed 39,000 older women for 19 years, starting in 1986, who were surveyed on the use of various vitamins and minierals. The study found that only calcium supplements were linked to a lower risk of death – 37 per cent of users died compared to 43 per cent of non-users.

But women taking multivitamins, for instance, didn't live longer. According to the study's findings, 41 per cent of those users did versus 40 per cent of non-users. (And that gap widened even further when health factors such as diabetes and high blood pressure were taken into account.)

Story continues below advertisement

But the study's author, Jaakko Mursu, clarified that his study doesn't prove that supplements do harm – just that they may not help all that much either, and aren't really necessary for people with vitamin or mineral deficiencies.

"I would rather conclude that there is no evidence for benefits," he told Reuters. He also said he believed the findings would also be true for men, though they weren't included in the study.

The study comes out, though at a time when the use of vitamin supplements is on the rise. Over the course of the study, the percentage of woman participating who took one of more supplements increased from 63 per cent to 85 per cent.

Tell us: Do you take a multivitamin?

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author

Erin Anderssen writes about mental health, social policy and family issues. More

Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at