Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) Responds to Recent JAMA Commentary on Multivitamin Efficacy

JUNE 26, 2024

WASHINGTON — The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the leading trade association for the dietary supplement and functional food industry, today responded to a recent commentary in JAMA Network Open questioning the value of multivitamin supplements. CRN emphasized the critical role that multivitamins play in filling essential nutrient gaps, particularly among vulnerable populations, and highlighted research that underscores their benefits.

Research indicates that a significant proportion of Americans do not meet the recommended daily intake for several essential micronutrients. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), substantial percentages of the population fall short in their intake of vitamins A, C, D, E, and K, as well as calcium, magnesium, and potassium. In addition, the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans report that most people do not consume enough of certain nutrients such as vitamin D, calcium, and potassium.  These are nutrients of public health concern. Multivitamins serve as a practical solution to bridge these gaps and ensure adequate intake of essential nutrients, supporting overall health and well-being.

For example, recent findings from the COcoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study (COSMOS-MIND) showed compelling evidence for the cognitive benefits of multivitamins. The study, conducted by researchers at Wake Forest and Harvard University, demonstrated that daily multivitamin supplementation significantly slowed age-related cognitive decline in older adults. Over a three-year period, participants who took multivitamins experienced improved memory performance, effectively delaying cognitive aging by approximately three years.

CRN's annual Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements reveals that multivitamins remain the most popular dietary supplements among Americans. CRN data also shows that multivitamin users report better overall health. Multivitamins are particularly beneficial for populations with higher nutrient needs, including pregnant women, older adults, and those with restrictive diets.

It is important to remember that research supports the role of multivitamins in disease prevention and health maintenance. For instance, studies have shown that multivitamin use is associated with reduced risks of colon cancer and breast cancer mortality. Additionally, prenatal multivitamins support the health of mom and baby. 

Multivitamins provide a cost-effective means for consumers to achieve recommended nutrient levels. They are not intended to replace a healthy diet but to supplement it, ensuring that individuals receive the full spectrum of nutrients necessary for optimal health.

“There is substantial evidence supporting the role of multivitamins in addressing nutritional needs, reducing the risk of specific diseases and health conditions, and supporting overall health,” said Andrea Wong, Ph.D., SVP, Science and Regulatory Affairs, CRN. “Analyzing mortality rates in isolation fails to recognize the range of health benefits of multivitamin use identified in rigorous scientific studies, including the reduction of birth defects, reducing cancer risk, slowing cognitive decline, and many others.”

Wong added that today’s headlines focusing only on mortality, but not quality of life, should not discourage consumers from their multivitamin regimens, particularly where individuals are aware their diets are not providing the full range of nutrients that are necessary.

Steve Mister, President and CEO of CRN, stated, "Multivitamins are a vital component of Americans' health regimens. The evidence supporting their benefits is robust, compelling, and continues to grow.”

Additionally, the report, “Supplements to Savings: U.S. Health Care Cost Savings from the Targeted Use of Dietary Supplements, 2022–2030,” specifies the chronic diseases avoidable with preventive care, and reveals the nine supplements and intake levels needed to realize billions in healthcare savings.

About the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN)

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), founded in 1973, is a Washington, D.C.-based trade association representing 180+ 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.  Follow us on Twitter @CRN_Supplements and LinkedIn.

Additional Resources:

Research confirms significant essential nutrient gaps in low-income Americans and the role that a multivitamin/mineral can play to fill nutrient gaps

2022: CRN Responds to U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Guidance on Multivitamins

2022: COSMOS-Mind Study Shows Promise for Multivitamins in Cognition

2022: CRN fights back against misinterpretation of USPSTF multivitamin guidance

2020: Unfounded Conclusions of New Multivitamin Study Provide Disservice to the Public

2018 (op-ed): Positive op-ed from Steve Mister on SNAP and the Multivitamin

2018: Multivitamins Fill Nutrient Gaps, Are Not Intended to Prevent Cardiovascular Disease

2017: CRN Responds to New Analysis of Physicians’ Health Study II, Reminds Consumers to Manage Expectations for Role of Multivitamin

2015: New Study Finds Multivitamins Benefit Women’s Heart Health