Multivitamins play an important role in dietary health

07 August 2012

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Multivitamins have a legitimate place in the wider health system and remain important for people whose dietary intake is inadequate, the Australian Self-Medication Industry (ASMI) said today.

ASMI was responding to comments made by consumer watchdog, Choice, on the necessity of multivitamins.

ASMI Regulatory and Scientific Affairs Director, Steven Scarff, said that comments by Choice seem to reflect a blanket view of the Australian health landscape, and ignore the real needs of certain segments who do not get the required level of nutrients.
"Dietary vitamin and mineral supplements are important for many people. They do not replace a balanced diet but they are useful for those with vitamin or mineral deficiencies, and they play a key role in health and wellbeing," Mr Scarff said.
ASMI said that calcium supplementation, in particular, is a well-tested and widely available option for increasing bone density and reducing the risk of fractures, and consumers should continue to follow recommended levels of calcium intake.
Pregnant women and nursing mothers have a particular need for essential nutrients, notably folate, zinc, calcium and Omega-3 fats, which are crucial for the health of both mother and baby.

Many children can be fussy eaters or intolerant to certain food groups, which means they sometimes don't get enough of these foods and the essential nutrients they provide.

"It's fine to argue that Australians should be getting their essential nutrients from a healthy diet, as Choice does, but we know that official statistics show that 90% of Australians are not eating the required level of fruit and vegetables".i

"It is important that people look to food as their primary source of nutrients, however we need to recognise that for many, reaching a perfect diet, as recommended the National Health and Medical Research Council, is becoming more difficult.
As with any medication, it is important that consumers follow the label instructions and consult with their healthcare practitioner if they have any concerns.
About ASMI: The Australian Self-Medication Industry (ASMI) is the peak industry body for the Australian self care industry representing consumer healthcare products including over-the-counter medicines and complementary medicines. ASMI's mission is to promote better health through responsible self-care. This means ensuring that safe and effective self-care products are readily available to all Australians at a reasonable cost. ASMI works to encourage responsible use by consumers and an increasing role for cost-effective self-medication products as part of the broad national health strategy.

Media contact: Bob Bowden, Foresight Communications (02) 9241 2811, 0412 753 298

i Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2012. Australia's Food & Nutrition 2012. Cat. no. PHE 163. Canberra: AIHW.