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JAMA Article Urges All Adults To Take Daily Multivitamin
19 June 2002
by Wyn Snow, Managing Editor

Drs. Kathleen M. Fairfield and Robert H. Fletcher, of Harvard Medical School in Boston MA, recommend that all adults take a daily multivitamin. Their two-part report appears in the June 19th issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Fairfield and Fletcher reviewed studies of relationships between vitamin intake and various diseases published between 1966 and 2002.They conclude that suboptimal levels of vitamin intake are associated with increased risk of contracting a variety of chronic diseases, including cancer and heart disease. This is true even when intakes are high enough to prevent classical symptoms of deficiency diseases like scurvy, beriberi and rickets.

As SupplementQuality.com reported in a previous article (see RDAs And Safe Upper Levels: Solid Science Versus Bureaucratic Bias), the recommended dietary allowance, or RDA, of various vitamins is intended to prevent deficiency disease, not to provide an optimal level of vitamin inake. It has long been known that the elderly, the sick, and people on restrictive diets are vulnerable to vitamin deficiencies. However, the "normal diet" of more than two-thirds of Americans does not include the recommended daily intake of at least five servings of fruits and vegetables. Only those eating a "super-perfect" diet are likely to get all the vitamins they need from their food.

Fletcher and Fairfield also warned that excessive dosage levels can have toxic effects. They also indicate that many doctors may view vitamins as "an alternative therapy" -- or may not appreciate the importance of vitamin deficiencies and may therefore overlook the value of recommending multivitamins to their patients.


Kathleen Fairfield MD and Robert Fletcher MD. "Vitamins for Chronic Disease Prevention: Scientific Review and Clinical Applications." Clinician's Corner, Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol 287, No 23, 19 July 2002.



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