Scientists have now proved what those of us into “alternative” medicine have known for years -- taking multivitamins will help you live longer. And according to their research, it may be up to 5% longer than people that don’t take them.1 That may not sound like much, but for the average US life expectancy, it's 4 more healthy years.
A study led by Dr. Honglei Chen of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences evaluated multivitamin use and nutrient intake in 586 women between the ages of 35 and 74 in what was called the Sister Study. The researchers then studied the length of their DNA telomeres, a marker for aging. They found that the telomeres of daily multivitamin takers were 5.1% longer than non-takers.
The researchers believe that the antioxidants contained in multivitamins are in part responsible for this life extending benefit. Antioxidants, specifically vitamins C and D, benefit telomere length by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation -- factors in the onset of most life-threatening diseases.
This research supports another recent study conducted by the National Cancer Institute and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences in Beijing.2
In this large-scale study known as the General Population Nutrition Intervention Trial, 29,584 residents of Linxian, China were given eight combinations of nine vitamin and mineral combinations from 1985 to 1991. The goal of the study was to evaluate the risk of cancer of the esophagus and upper stomach. Residents of Linxian have some of the highest rates of these types of cancer in the world.
The trial found that “factor D,” a combination of 50 micrograms of selenium, 30 milligrams of vitamin E and 15 milligrams beta-carotene was associated with a reduction in all-cause mortality, as well as total cancer and gastric cancer mortality. As in the first study mentioned above, antioxidant vitamins and minerals were the key to reduced risk of chronic disease and early death.
From the beginning of the trial through May, 2001, 9,727 deaths occurred in study participants including 1,515 from esophageal cancer and 1,199 from gastric cancer. Individuals who received factor D however, had a 5% percent lower risk of dying from all causes than those who did not receive this combination. The effect of factor D was most strongly observed in participants younger than 55 years.
This research is also important because it showed reduced risk of cancer for up to 10 years after the end of the trial in individuals who took the vitamin/mineral antioxidant combination.
These two studies provide strong evidence that taking a daily multivitamin can help you live a longer and healthier life. If you are not currently taking a multi, it’s not too late to start. Go to your nearest health food store and ask a knowledgeable employee to recommend a good quality supplement that has higher values than the USDA recommendations for essential vitamins and minerals.
You may pay a few more dollars per bottle, but the return on your investment is too great to measure.