Skip to main content
ARS Home » Northeast Area » Boston, Massachusetts » Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #331070

Research Project: Improving Cardiovascular Health with Diet

Location: Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging

Title: Dietary supplements and disease prevention: a global overview

item RAUTIANINEN, SUSANNE - Karolinska Institute
item MANSON, JOANN - Harvard University
item LICHTENSTEIN, ALICE - Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging At Tufts University
item SESSO, HOWARD - Harvard University

Submitted to: Nature Reviews Endocrinology
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/1/2016
Publication Date: 5/6/2016
Citation: Rautianinen, S., Manson, J., Lichtenstein, A.H., Sesso, H.D. 2016. Dietary supplements and disease prevention: a global overview. Nature Reviews Endocrinology. 12:407-420. doi: 10.1038/nrendo.2016.54.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Undernutrition and micronutrient malnutrition are prevalent conditions that affect global public health. Dietary supplements are widely used in many developed countries. However, it remains unclear whether supplementation with individual or combined vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients are effective for disease prevention in different populations. Those with malnutrition or nutritional insufficiencies who have difficulty in achieving a well-balanced healthy diet may benefit from supplementation. Examples of situations when different micronutrient supplementation have been recommended include folic acid during pregnancy to prevent neural tube defects, vitamin A supplementation in pregnancy when deficiency is highly prevalent to prevent night blindness, iron supplementation among women with low hemoglobin and/or ferritin levels during pregnancy to prevent and treat anemia, and vitamin D among infants to prevent rickets. Existing research has mainly focused on high-dose supplementation of individual vitamins and minerals on different chronic health outcomes, with randomized clinical trials often demonstrating either a lack of effect or occasionally harmful effects. Yet research remains sparse or preliminary for many vitamins and minerals. Less is known about the effect of low-dose multi-vitamin supplements on different health outcomes, especially among those more likely to have nutritional insufficiencies such as pregnant women, children, and older adults.