Multivitamins, Individual Vitamin and Mineral Supplements, and Risk of Diabetes Among Older U.S. Adults

  1. Honglei Chen, MD, PHD3
  1. 1Division of Preventive Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts;
  2. 2Department of Epidemiology and Health Statistics, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Beijing, China;
  3. 3Epidemiology Branch, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina;
  4. 4Nutritional Epidemiology Branch, National Cancer Institute, Rockville, Maryland;
  5. 5American Association of Retired Persons, Washington, D.C.
  1. Corresponding author: Honglei Chen, chenh2{at}


OBJECTIVE Understanding the relationship between multivitamin use and diabetes risk is important given the wide use of multivitamin supplements among U.S. adults.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS We prospectively examined supplemental use of multivitamins and individual vitamins and minerals assessed in 1995–1996 in relation to self-reported diabetes diagnosed after 2000 among 232,007 participants in the National Institutes of Health–American Association of Retired Persons Diet and Health Study. Multivitamin use was assessed by a food-frequency questionnaire at baseline. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% CIs were calculated by logistic regression models, adjusted for potential confounders. In total, 14,130 cases of diabetes diagnosed after 2000 were included in the analysis.

RESULTS Frequent use of any multivitamins was not associated with risk of diabetes after adjustment for potential confounders and uses of individual supplements. Compared with nonusers of any multivitamins, the multivariate ORs among users were 1.07 (95% CI 0.94–1.21) for taking vitamins less than once per week, 0.97 (0.88–1.06) for one to three times per week, 0.92 (0.84–1.00) for four to six times per week, and 1.02 (0.98–1.06) for seven or more times per week (P for trend = 0.64). Significantly lower risk of diabetes was associated with the use of vitamin C or calcium supplements. The multivariate ORs comparing daily users with nonusers were 0.91 (0.86–0.97) for vitamin C supplements and 0.85 (0.80–0.90) for calcium supplements. Use of vitamin E or other individual vitamin and mineral supplements were not associated with diabetes risk.

CONCLUSIONS In this large cohort of U.S. older adults, multivitamin use was not associated with diabetes risk. The findings of lower diabetes risk among frequent users of vitamin C or calcium supplements warrant further evaluations.


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  • Received July 2, 2010.
  • Accepted October 11, 2010.

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  1. Diabetes Care vol. 34 no. 1 108-114
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