Micronutrient deficiencies occur in segments of the adult population in the United States. Multivitamin/multimineral supplements (MVMS) are widely used by this population, which reduces inadequacies in micronutrient intake, but the potential for exceeding tolerable upper intake levels in others should be considered. There are concerns associated with the excessive intake of certain nutrients, particularly folic acid, and potential untoward consequences. The advent of nutrigenomics and the enhanced ability to directly study the interactions between nutrition and genetic variants and expression will allow for the conduct of more targeted studies with specific endpoints and may ultimately lead to progress in the field of personalized nutrition. The role of MVMS in health maintenance and chronic disease prevention remains controversial. Conducting studies in this area has been hampered by, among other factors, inconsistent definitions of MVMS, ranging from as few as three vitamins to broad-spectrum products containing more than two dozen vitamins and minerals. Results from some observational studies and large-scale, randomized, controlled trials suggest that MVMS may reduce the risk of some forms of cancer and, potentially, cardiovascular disease. The ongoing COcoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study (COSMOS) is expected to build on this research and provide additional insights into these areas.
Jeffrey B. Blumberg, Regan L. Bailey, Howard D. Sesso and Cornelia M. Ulrich