CRN Responds to New Analysis of Physicians’ Health Study II, Reminds Consumers to Manage Expectations for Role of Multivitamin

Washington, D.C., April 5, 2017In response to a new study, “Effect of Baseline Nutritional Status on Long-term Multivitamin Use and Cardiovascular Disease Risk, A Secondary Analysis of the Physicians’ Health Study II Randomized Clinical Trial,” published online today in JAMA Cardiology1, the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the leading trade association for the dietary supplement and functional food industry, issued the following statement:

Statement by Duffy MacKay, N.D., senior vice president, scientific & regulatory affairs, CRN: 

“Science has already demonstrated the value of the multivitamin, and so while we are disappointed to see the null results of this study, by no means are we discouraged. The multivitamin serves many roles—from filling nutrient gaps to preventing neural tube birth defects—and is trusted as a go-to nutrition insurance policy by nearly a hundred million Americans each year. Only four years ago, the Physicians’ Health Study II found the multivitamin may have potential benefit for the prevention of cancer in a well-nourished male population.2 The multivitamin can do a lot, but we must remember that it cannot do everything, and this well-designed study, which found no consistent impact of nutritional status on the effect of multivitamin use on cardiovascular disease risk, reinforces this fact and reminds us to manage expectations for the role of multivitamins.

At the same time, it is important to keep in mind that the results of this study are not necessarily generalizable to the whole population. The study participants were male physicians who on average had a healthier diet than the general U.S. population, which could be why the researchers did not find any additional benefit from a nutritional intervention. If the study looked at a different population—perhaps one that represented a wider range of America’s dietary habits—we may have seen different results. All the more reason to continue building on research.

The CRN Foundation is proud to have provided an unrestricted grant for this study, and to be supporting research in order to advance nutrition science. We strongly encourage further research to determine additional value of the multivitamin and that of other individual nutrients. For consumers, the key takeaway of this study is that the multivitamin is not a panacea, but at the very least, given the nutrient shortfalls in our population, it can reliably fill nutrient gaps. We also recommend opening up a dialogue with a doctor or other healthcare practitioner about the use of a multivitamin or any dietary supplement.”  

1 Rautiainen S, Gaziano JM, Christen WG, Bubes V, Kotler G, Glynn RJ, et al. Baseline Nutritional Status and Long-term Multivitamin Use on Cardiovascular Disease Risk in the Physicians’ Health Study II - A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Cardiology. 2017.

2 Gaziano JM, Sesso HD, Christen WG, Bubes V, Smith JP, MacFadyen J, et al. Multivitamins in the prevention of cancer in men: the Physicians' Health Study II randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2012; 308:1871-80.

Note to Editor: The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), founded in 1973, is a Washington, D.C.-based trade association representing 150+ dietary supplement and functional food manufacturers, ingredient suppliers, and companies providing services to those manufacturers and suppliers. In addition to complying with a host of federal and state regulations governing dietary supplements and food in the areas of manufacturing, marketing, quality control and safety, our manufacturer and supplier members also agree to adhere to additional voluntary guidelines as well as to CRN’s Code of Ethics. Visit Follow us on Twitter @crn_supplements and @wannabewell and on Facebook.