London: Are you among the millions who pop a multi-vitamin pill daily? Then, there is some bad news for you as a new study claims it is nothing but "a waste of money".
   
The six-year-long study involving over 8,000 people by a team at Nancy University in France found that those taking multi-vitamin supplements were just as likely to develop heart disease or cancer as those who took a dummy pill.
   
And when they were questioned on how healthy they felt, there was hardly any difference between the two groups, the researchers said in a report published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.
   
Experts said the study, one of the most extensive carried out into vitamin pills, suggested that millions of consumers may be wasting their money on supplements.
   
Many users fall into the category of the "worried well", or the healthy adults who believe the pills will insure them against deadly illnesses, according to Catherine Collins of St George's Hospital in London.
   
"It's the worried well who are taking these pills to try and protect themselves against Alzheimer's, heart attacks and strokes," she said.
   
"But they are wasting their money. This was a large study following people up for a long period of time assessing everything from their mobility and blood pressure to whether they were happy or felt pain."
   
Multi-vitamin pills have become increasingly popular as a quick and easy way of topping up the body's nutrient levels.    

While the evidence that vitamins can do harm is still limited, the latest study seems to confirm that many people are at the very least taking them unnecessarily.

In their study, the researchers tracked 8,112 volunteers who took either a placebo capsule, or one containing vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, selenium  and zinc, every day for just over six years.
   
They assessed the state of their health at the beginning and end of the trial, taking a quality of life survey designed to measure everything from mobility and pain to vitality and mental health.
   
When researchers analysed how many in each group had gone on to develop serious illnesses over the years, they found little difference.
   
In the supplement group, 30.5 percent of patients had suffered a major health "event", such as cancer or heart disease. In the placebo group, the rate was 30.4 percent.
   
There were 120 cases of cancer in those taking vitamins, compared to 139 in the placebo group, and 65 heart disease cases, against 57 among the dummy pill users.
   
"The perception that supplementation improves general well-being is not supported by this trial," the researchers said.
   
"The study reinforce the idea that if you are worried about your health and start taking multi-vitamins, you will still be worried about it six years later", they added.

(Agencies)