A study published in the December Journal of the American Dietetic Association reported that teenagers who take a daily multivitamin have a healthier diet and lifestyle than those who don’t take vitamins. As part of the Child and Adolescent Trial for Cardiovascular Health (CATCH), the researchers analyzed data on height, weight, diet, and health behaviors for more than 2500 U.S. high school seniors. Their goal was to discover whether teens that took vitamin supplements differed in terms of diet, exercise and other health habits. Twenty-five percent of the teens reported taking a daily multivitamin supplement. Adolescents who took vitamins had a lower rate of smoking, 29% versus 33%; and were less likely to be overweight, 31% versus 37%. Teens who took vitamins were also more physically active, including higher rates of participation in team sports and other organized sports. Vitamin use was also linked to a lower rate of television watching—less than 60% of vitamin users watched an hour of TV per day, compared with 70% of non-users. The differences remained significant after statistical adjustment for other factors.
Taking vitamins was also associated with a healthier diet, as reflected by an overall “food index score.” Adolescents who took vitamins actually consumed more calories, but got more of their calories from carbohydrates and protein, and less from fats. Vitamin users also ate more fiber, had more daily servings of whole grains, fruits and juices, and vegetables, and ate more fish.