Multivitamins 'just a waste of money'
Popping a daily multivitamin pill could be a waste of time and money, consumer watchdog Choice has said.
An investigation by the watchdog found that healthy individuals who already eat a balanced diet but also take multivitamins could be spending money unnecessarily.
Although there at times there are clinical evidence to support taking a supplement, the doses can often be way below levels required to have a significant impact, the organisation said.
"If you have a healthy diet and you're not a person with specific nutritional requirements, there's a good chance you're wasting your money," News.com.au quoted Choice spokeswoman Ingrid Just as saying.
"At 20 to 70 cents per day for multivitamin products we priced, the 'worried well' can spend several hundred dollars a year simply by taking a daily pill.
"Marketing messages, often backed up by high-profile sporting celebrities, give the impression that we all need multivitamins to be fit and healthy," she said in a statement.
People popping a range of multivitamins without checking the recommended daily intake (RDI) requirements could be exceeding the RDI for some vitamins and thereby potentially putting their health at risk, as not all vitamins are safe in high doses.
The investigation found that since most multivitamins contain lower doses of ingredients so it's harder for them to be over-consumed.
Vitamin labelling could also confuse consumers, with some labels stating the vitamin name such as B3, while others give the chemical name, niacin.
"An untrained person probably wouldn't know that the two things are one and the same," Just said.
Manufacturers of products that are sold in Australia are not required to list how each ingredient amount relates to RDI.
"We want manufacturers to list vitamin and mineral values according to the percentage of an appropriate RDI in each dose to help consumers compare apples with apples," Choice's investigation concluded.
The study pointed out that some groups definitely benefit from supplements, including pregnant women taking folate before and after conception.