vitamin supplements in hand

Healthiest vitamins and minerals revealed in new JAMA report

Summary:  An article in JAMA earlier this month recommends the healthiest sources of vitamins and minerals and suggests specific supplements for specific age-groups, life stages, and medical conditions.  [This article first appeared on LongevityFacts. Author: Brady Hartman. ]

Vitamin supplements are helpful to certain people but could be unhealthy to others say the authors of a recent study published in a leading medical journal.

Advice on vitamin and mineral supplementation frequently changes, with one study contradicting the next. On February 5, 2018, two authors published an opinion piece in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association to settle the contradictions.

The opinion piece was written by JoAnn E. Manson, MD, DrPH and Shari S. Bassuk, ScD and titled “Vitamin and Mineral Supplements – What Clinicians Need to Know.”The authors declared that for the average, healthy adolescent and young adult obtaining vitamins and minerals in supplement form was usually inferior to getting them from a healthy diet.  The authors emphasized the health benefits of obtaining vitamins and minerals from a healthy diet, saying

“such supplementation is not a substitute for a healthful and balanced diet and, in most cases, provides little if any benefit beyond that conferred by such a diet.” Adding “Clinicians should also highlight the many advantages of obtaining vitamins and minerals from food instead of from supplements.”

The authors declared that supplement usage was usually ineffective and some vitamin supplements were harmful to the average person, saying

“most randomized clinical trials of vitamin and mineral supplements have not demonstrated clear benefits for primary or secondary prevention of chronic diseases not related to nutritional deficiency. Indeed, some trials suggest that micronutrient supplementation in amounts that exceed the recommended dietary allowance (RDA)—eg, high doses of beta carotene, folic acid, vitamin E, or selenium—may have harmful effects, including increased mortality, cancer, and hemorrhagic stroke.”

However, the authors provided guidance for people in certain life phases who might consider vitamin supplementation, such as infants, pregnant women and midlife and older adults as well as people with certain medical conditions who might also benefit.

Americans have been taking vitamin and mineral supplements since the products arrived on the market in the early 1940s. One-third of all Americans take vitamin and mineral supplements often as a form of nutritional insurance. Although supplements can improve one’s intake of certain vitamins and minerals, they can also increase the odds of exceeding safe levels of other vitamins and minerals.

Bottom Line

The authors of the JAMA opinion piece say that a healthy, balanced diet is a healthier source of vitamins and minerals. Vitamin and mineral supplements are helpful to some people at certain life phases and others with specific deficiencies. Studies show that claims that vitamin and mineral supplements prevent cancer, heart attack and premature death in the healthy young adults are not supported.

An extensive study conducted last year suggests that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables helps prevent chronic diseases like stroke, cancer, and heart disease.  Their health benefits may stem from the fact that plant foods are rich in nutrients called phytonutrients. Moreover, the authors of the study showed that consuming ten servings of fruits and vegetables every day reduces the risk of death by 31%.

Related: 8 Answers To Top Questions About Vitamins and Supplements.

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Cover Photo: yorkfoto / Getty Images.

Manson JE, Bassuk SS. “Vitamin and Mineral SupplementsWhat Clinicians Need to Know.” JAMA. February 05, 2018. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.21012.


Diagnosis, Treatment, and Advice:  This article is intended for informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for qualified, professional medical advice.  The opinions and information stated in this article should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Consult a qualified and licensed physician for the diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Experimental treatments carry a much higher risk than FDA-approved ones. Dial 9-1-1, or an equivalent emergency hotline number, for all medical emergencies. As well, consult a licensed, qualified physician before changing your diet, supplement or exercise programs.
Photos, Endorsements, & External Links:  This article is not intended to endorse organizations, companies, or their products. Links to external websites, mention or depiction of company names or brands, are intended for illustration only and do not constitute endorsements.

3 Replies to “Healthiest vitamins and minerals revealed in new JAMA report”

  1. Dennis Fink

    Brady, I find most doctors in mainstream medicine are very conservative and when talking to the general public this can be the safest approach. You were however rather critical of Ray Kurzweil’s supplement list and when it comes to figuring out what works to slow down or stop aging, I have to agree with Ray who has said he uses an aggressive approach. We aren’t going to find out what works as quickly by being conservative so I applaud those like Ray who take an aggressive approach since thousands are dying daily and some of these deaths could be prevented with better nutrition and there seems to be lots of data that our food isn’t as nutritious as it was a decade or two back. I am using an aggressive approach like Ray since I am a few years older with pain that is difficult to get rid of without strong meds. Ray was quoted the other day (Rejuvenation Research-“Longevity Escape Velocity…”) as saying he personally stopped aging last year. Anyway we can find out what his program is (amount of supplements included)?

    • Brady Hartman

      Hi Dennis – yes, I am critical of Ray’s supplement list, however, I’m a fan of Ray’s seemingly low-fat and generally healthy diet. This is based on other reports which show that a healthy diet is superior to supplements for a healthy adult.

Comments are closed.