Are vitamins a waste?

During the past several weeks, two studies were released showing that vitamins are less effective in helping prevent some specific conditions than hoped. This information produced some controversy over whether or not vitamins (and, to a degree, supplements) were relatively useless and a waste of money.

Considering that vitamins, minerals, supplements and similar products account for multibillions of dollars in yearly sales, that’s a lot of money to waste. Especially for a very limited return for that capital outlay.

But is it a waste of money? Let’s see what the studies say. But before we do, some information from the US Preventive Services Task Force, or USPSTF. The USPSTF is:

“. . . an independent panel of non-Federal experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine and is composed of primary care providers (such as internists, pediatricians, family physicians, gynecologists/obstetricians, nurses, and health behavior specialists).

The USPSTF conducts scientific evidence reviews of a broad range of clinical preventive health care services (such as screening, counseling, and preventive medications) and develops recommendations for primary care clinicians and health systems. These recommendations are published in the form of “Recommendation Statements.”

The USPSTF came out with a statement last year saying that there is not enough evidence to date to recommend for or against using vitamin and mineral supplements for the primary prevention of cardiovascular diseases or cancer. In other words, from the USPSTF’s standpoint the jury is still out as to whether or not vitamins and minerals might help to prevent cancer or heart attacks. They may make a recommendation after they review additional, future studies.

Vitamins via Shutterstock

Vitamins via Shutterstock

The First Study: Post-heart attack

In the first study, about 1,700 patients in the US and Canada who had had a recent myocardial infarction (heart attack) were studied.

Some of the patients took a high-dose pill that contained a mix of 28 different vitamins and minerals. Others took a placebo (sugar pill). They followed these patients for several years. Basically, except perhaps, for a small subgroup of patients, there was essentially no difference in cardiovascular events between the placebo and multivitamin group. The conclusion drawn was that there was no benefit to supplementing the diet with most mineral or vitamin supplements for the prevention of chronic disease, in this case, cardiovascular disease in particular.

The Second Study: Cognitive function

The second study involved almost 6,000 male physicians, 65 years old or older.

About half took a multivitamin daily (Centrum Silver) the remainder took a placebo. This study looked at cognitive function (gaining knowledge and comprehension of ideas) in terms of cognitive decline. The question the study looked at might be asked this way: Will taking a daily multivitamins prevent or slow the loss of cognitive function? Will a multivitamin prevent memory loss?

The cognitive functions of all of the physicians were assessed through different tests including tests of verbal memory. These men were followed for several years and some were retested up to four times. The results showed a lack of benefit for those taking the multivitamin. They experienced as much cognitive decline as those in the control group. The researchers said, “These data do not provide support for use of multivitamin supplements in the prevention of cognitive decline,” However, they did note that a multivitamin given in the same study did show that there was a “modest protection against overall cancer risk.”

So, basically, these studies show that there isn’t a benefit in using multivitamins to prevent cardiovascular events or cognitive decline. However, a few additional points need to be made.

First off, both of these studies were done on groups of patients/volunteers who were well-nourished to begin with. Considering the propensity of Americans to be obese, to eat junk foods and rely on fast foods, perhaps a similar study needs to be run on people who aren’t well-nourished to see if there are any significant differences.

Secondly, the study on cognition involved (only) male physicians. Is there a possibility that the results might be different in females? Probably not, but that wasn’t addressed here though there is a similar study being done now in women.

Thirdly, this doesn’t mean that vitamins and minerals are valueless – they’re not. They are very useful in treating some diseases. This data just shows that, in these studies, the vitamins used did not PREVENT MIs or cognitive decline. In other words, don’t expect your multivitamin to keep you from losing your memory or preventing a heart attack.

Next, these studies only looked at the vitamins and minerals in Centrum Sliver in one study, and at the effects of a high-dose mixture of vitamins and minerals produced for members of the cardiovascular study. This does’t mean that there may not be compounds that aren’t in those two medicines that might prove efficacious in preventing MIs and mental decline.

However, it should be noted that, under certain circumstances, taking too much of a particular vitamin or mineral may be harmful. There are cases of hypervitaminosis. These are uncommon, but can be potentially dangerous. So if you do take vitamins and supplements, be aware that you can take too much and actually become ill. Don’t use the “If one is good, two must be better” rule.

So, for now, it seems that the USPSTF (non)recommendation makes the most sense.

Now, here’s some information on making some safer choices when buying over the counter medications.

Vitamins, minerals, herbals supplements and the like are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). So what you buy may not be pure, or have the stated amount of the vitamin/supplement, or may not even be the real supplement at all.

How can you be sure?

You may not be able to be absolutely sure. But here are a few ideas that can help when you purchase a vitamin, supplement or mineral (it may be more difficult to verify the purity of some herbals.)

1. You can see if it has been certified by the USP (United States Pharmacopoeia).

2. If not, a reputable supplier will often have had an analysis of the particular supplement done by a laboratory. It should show exactly what is in the sample – how pure it is, contaminants, etc. For example, some over the counter fish oil products may be made from fish that have a high mercury content. Getting fish oil that is USPS certified, or has a certificate of analysis offered by the seller, should help to protect you somewhat.

3. I’d suggest that you avoid buying online from “foreign pharmacies,” “discount pharmacies” or the like. You don’t want to buy a supplement that was manufactured in someone’s garage.

(I’m told that in order to better see my Facebook posts in your feed, you need to “follow” me.)

Mark Thoma, MD, is a physician who did his residency in internal medicine. Mark has a long history of social activism, and was an early technogeek, and science junkie, after evolving through his nerd phase. Favorite quote: “The most exciting phrase to hear in science... is not 'Eureka!' (I found it!) but 'That's funny.'” - Isaac Asimov

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40 Responses to “Are vitamins a waste?”

  1. Bubbles says:

    From my days as a student and being unemployed, I developed a mantra to eat at least one apple, one banana and one orange a day, at least, and some greens and tomato (or tomato based product) as well. I thought of this as “medicinal” eating as opposed to ‘recreational” eating.

    Another theory I have is eat medicinally (ie feed body the medicine it needs to run on, like the above stuff) BEFORE you eat recreationally. If you don’t eat medicinally, you will over do the recreational, and then might skip the stuff you need, whereas if you eat medicinally first you’ll eat less of the recreational stuff afterwords. Call it the theory of desert.

    A friend of mine with low, consistent weight eats as follows, consistently:

    Oatmeal in the morning plus Ovaltine. A toasted raisin/cinnimon (Thomas) bagel with cream cheese for lunch, and if necessary a few chips ahoy cookies for any sweet/chocolate cravings (he might delay this for a mid afternoon snack) and a big cob like salad with balsamic vinegar dressing in the evening – usually after 8pm, because if you eat too early you’ll snack or go to bed hungry.

    He also plays tennis 2 or 3 times a week.

    The guy has modest appetites. But i’ve tried it when I’m not traveling around so much and the key to me is the bagel and cream cheese – it is not very good for you – but it is very satisfying and the result is very few cravings afterwords. If you make it to 1 o’clock, you can pretty much avoid cravings the rest of the afternoon which is when my will power is weakest. If I back slid, I had a few keebler chocolate coconut cookies in the afternoon (they are heavy, have chocolate, so they satisfy from eating very little).

  2. Bubbles says:

    Medical studies lack power coefficients. That is.a study can come out with a statistic, but the power statistic behind that statistic tells you the likelihood of the original statistic to repeat itself in duplicate studies. The power statistic is more important than the statistic itself and medical research rarely publicizes the power statistic. This is why we get the “eggs are bad for you, no they are good for you, no they are bad for you” thing. They give the statistic from a study, but not the power statistic that tells you how reliable the original statistic is.

    A second point:
    There is a concern in global climate studies that because we have more CO2 in the air, and plants thrive on CO2, that we are getting more plant growth. What that suggests is that we are fertilizing the air but not the ground. So we have more plant growth pulling upon the same, fixed nutrient base. So we have more plants but they have lower density of nutrients in them per plant. For you to have the same amount of nutrients in you, you have to eat more plant matter, which means, more calories. There’s a lot of possible, and probable, causes to the obesity epidemic: the unknown (unknowable?) effects of high fructose corn syrup (the growth of obesity rates begins with the introduction of HFC); another is processed foods (one nutritionist says you can have decent health if you simply avoid eating food manufactured or prepared by corporations), but a still unknown fact is the body’s own craving for nutrician. It it is trying to arrive at some kind of nutrician consumption, and the food you eat has less of it, than the body is going to hunger for more food. Those are all just theories. But if we can arrive at a healthy, affordable mix of supplements it may help reduce the tendency towards obesity.

    The problem I have is I don’t know what vitamins/supplements I should be taking, for my age, and who to buy them from at an affordable price. I have reduced income thanks to Bushenomics. In the past I have bought most of my vitamins a wallyworld. Now I’m beggining to shift to Costco because I saw a documentary on how they do their supplier selection with vigorous testing – so I’m hopeful that Costco is watching out for me at a price and quality standpoint, but I really don’t know.

  3. Naja pallida says:

    It may be a food stuff, but they market it as a miracle supplement to your diet. So that you can eat whatever you want, and just have a little psyllium and flush all the bad stuff away. I have no problem with supplements, vitamins, and whatnot, I take some myself… but I think that’s just what they should be, a supplement. The ideas that so many marketing campaigns try to push: that they’re somehow going to replace eating right and being physically active, is patently absurd.

  4. Naja pallida says:

    I think you have it reversed. The big pharmaceutical companies are the ones with billions of dollars per year worth of reasons to fund “studies” to dupe you into handing over your money for a useless product. There’s a reason why they’re buying up supplement companies like they were going out of style. A publicly-funded, extensively peer-reviewed scientific panel of medical experts is, by design, intended to weed out the kind of political bias you allude to. Those scientists will see no benefit no matter what result they reported.

    Of course, as mentioned in the article, the report doesn’t say all supplementation is inherently bad. It just says that most people won’t see any marked benefit, so they can probably save their money… unless you have a medical need to supplement for something specific.

    Though, I can’t imagine there’s any point trying to talk sense to you, seeing that you’ve spammed the exact same stuff on dozens of sites, without actually bothering to provide any evidence to even attempt to make your case.

  5. Naja pallida says:

    Please expound upon how your opinion outweighs publicly-funded, peer-reviewed, scientific studies by medical experts. It would help if you could provide some charts and graphs.

  6. Esnus says:

    These and many other alleged good anti-vitamin “studies” are flawed and immersed in medical politics. The vitamin-bashing thread runs deep, from faulty research methodology, erroneous misleading “studies,” distortions against supplements made by various representatives of mainstream medicine, to bias in reporting by the corporate media all of which is heavily rooted in politics.

    Many solid studies have found impressive benefits from supplements, especially at high doses, despite the ongoing vitamin-bashing news of the mainstream medical establishment (google/bing “2 Big Lies: No Vitamin Benefits & Supplements Are Very Dangerous by Rolf Hefti”).

    The public needs to get that most anti-supplement “studies” and accusations are faulty and/or mired in politics.

  7. GarySFBCN says:

    Maybe you can tell us why this is “garbage.” Otherwise, STFU.

  8. Monoceros Forth says:

    That’s just a bit unfair. Obviously this product is being marketed not toward consumers toward food manufacturers who, just like the manufacturers of any other sort of product, have a need for standardized ingredients that behave in a predictable fashion.

  9. Monoceros Forth says:

    Well, the powder is usually just a foodstuff, after all; I’m pretty sure that most of those commercial fiber products you get from the drugstore contain ground-up psyllium husks. It’s probably actually cheaper to get it that way than to pay the outrageous price for psyllium as a cooking ingredient.

  10. Vance Decker says:

    Utter Garbage! This is the type of science which your high school PE teacher might spew.

  11. karmanot says:

    Thank you—very informative.

  12. docsterx says:

    A few years ago the American Heart Association recommended about 500mg of both DHA and EPA per day. There is some recent evidence that omega-3 oils may be less beneficial in decreasing cardiovascular than first thought.

    Also, if you decide to use algal omega-3s, make sure that the product you choose has both EPA and DHA. And, the algal omega-3s are more expensive than plain old fish oil.

  13. Whitewitch says:

    I did that – got whisked off to sunnier and more tropical climes (okay only to Sunny San Diego – but that is far superior to gloomy, sad DC) and I am finally back to a normal level of Vit D…only change is I walk to and from work (which I did in DC) – BUT there is sun everyday here!!! No supplements and NO SUNSCREEN!!! That is the secret.

  14. Whitewitch says:

    Super article. Thanks for sharing – wouldn’t it be nice if some nutrition actually was given to the poor….

  15. Drew2u says:

    Oh, interesting that Nature Made is on the list. Too bad when I look at the contents of the pills (like the Fish Oil), the amount seems rather lacking.
    I heard a while back that to get enough benefits from Fish Oil, the EPA/DHA content should be around 1,000mg combined.
    Elsewhere I found information about in what amounts certain other vitamins and minerals should be in content to provide enough of a benefit from them and most multis that I’ve looked over tend to fall short.

  16. docsterx says:

    Good question, not an easy answer. A few vitamin manufacturers are USP certified and those are listed on the USP website.
    If none of those manufacturers has the specific supplement or vitamin you’re interested in, I’d probably look at the generics available through a major pharmacy like CVS, Walgreen’s, etc. Some of the products I’ve seen in places like Walmart, KMart, et al. seem to be made by little known or foreign manufacturers.

  17. kuanyinguy says:

    There are many online sources you can order from, such as Vitacost and even Amazon carries a lot. Some over the counter companies I have thought well of included Solgar, Source Naturals, and Nature’s Life, and others. Other companies only sell to professionals, like Metagenics, Thorne, Standard Process, and others. The practitioner only brands are usually much overpriced and some, but by no means all, are good quality. The health food store I worked in had a 100% markup for vitamins. For example, the store bought it at wholesale for $5.00 and sold it for $10.00. Pretty standard markup. But I’ve seen practitioners like chiropractors and others may mark up more than that because they don’t sell as much and have to justify shelf space. Or they’re more greedy than the store I worked for. One doctor I worked with was talked into selling a multi-level marketing brand of vitamins that were only marginally better than Centrum. Multi-level marketing brands are rarely better and are usually worse than over than counter brands and you don’t have to be pressured into buying dish soap, or other crap from the company.

    I usually shop for the best price per gram (or amount in a pill) for single nutrients if possible, but in a chemical form that the body will recognize. One common example is CoQ10 (ubiquinone) which is very expensive because it’s really only made by a couple labs and they sell to everyone else who measure it out and bottle according to their own formula. Or a company can get a private labeling company to make it for them, which can result in the private labeling company skimping on the product to maximize their profit. Seen that happen, too.

    But Co Q 10 can range from pricey to outrageous. To figure out the $ per mg. just take the total dollars divided by the total milligrams. For example 50 pills with 100 mg each for $25.99 would work out to be 25.99 divide by (50 x 100) 5000 total mg per bottle. 25.99 = $0.00519 per mg. I would skip the fancy additives and just take it with an oily food (most prepared foods have some oil for cooking or as an ingredient) to increase absorption.

    For iron you would need the input of a doctor or nutritionist to determine adequate amounts. But some brands might be helpful, if it were for me I would consider non constipating iron from Solgar or food based iron might be good also, like Megafood’s Blood Builder (which includes B12, folic acid and vitamin C. It’s important to take iron with an acid to increase absorbability, like orange juice. It’s also important to remember that, depending of the dose, some vitamins (e.g. B vitamin) and some minerals (Zinc and Iron) may cause stomach upset, nausea, even vomiting if taken on an empty stomach. I always take multi vitamins and many other vitamins and minerals with food to reduce this. Other sources of iron include dried figs and raisins, molasses, red meat and organ meats, but a whole list can be googled easily.

    For vitamin D I stick to natural d3 cholecalciferol which is the form that other Vit D supplements have to be converted into by the body to work. Vit D can be toxic in large amounts and see good sources about the best. Some blood tests are available for vit D levels, like serum iron tests.

    I’m generally skeptical of outrageous claims of superiority of food based vitamins as I’ve seen no studies showing increased absorbability or increased benefits than “synthetic” vitamins. Same for colloidal minerals. I asked a company to show me research that their colloidal minerals were more absorbable than pill forms and it was an article from a magazine that said what I was saying, no research showing better absorption. I guess they didn’t read their own propaganda.

    Also I’m skeptical of any rep that claims this new form or new discovery cures everything from baldness to impotence. Show me the unbiased evidence.

  18. docsterx says:

    True, but the above data is drawn from people eating a DIET high in fiber vs. getting fiber from supplements. Of course, that wouldn’t stop someone from marketing “canned” fiber as beneficial. In fact, that’s probably on the market now. Yep, here’s one – partially digested tree, maybe.

  19. Drew2u says:

    Other than, “Here, let me google that for you”, how would one find products that are of quality?

  20. Naja pallida says:

    That opens the door for products like Metamucil and Citrucel to market to us, and encourage us to avoid actually eating foods high in fiber, but instead to just throw some powder into a drink, and magic poop happens. :)

  21. docsterx says:

    While the role of vitamins may be somewhat questionable there is good evidence that a high-fiber is healthy. Eating a diet high in fiber can be very beneficial in several ways. Increasing fiber by increasing the amounts of fruits and vegetables eaten can: reduce the risk of colon cancer, heart disease, constipation, may help normalize blood glucose levels in diabetics and aid in moderate weight loss. It can also help decrease LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels.

    The diet should include a mix of foods containing souble and insoluble fiber. Foods with high concentrations of soluble fiber: oat bran, barley, kidney beans, fruits, and vegetables.
    Insoluble fiber is virtually indigestible and helps cause a feeling of fullness. Some examples of insoluble fiber are: Wheat bran, vegetables and whole grains.

    High-fiber foods also can be rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals, which may have additional health benefits.

  22. docsterx says:

    Some companies offer omega-3 oil that is extracted from farmed algae and therefore sustainable and potentially mercury-free. One small study shows that the omega-3s extracted from algae are somewhat more effective than those extracted from krill or oily fish.

  23. Rambie says:

    “Always buy high quality supplements from reputable sources…” Have any examples? I can’t think of anywhere that isn’t a grocery store or “towers of protein powder” stores in my area.

    Iron & Vit D deficiency run in my family. I buy an multi with Iron & D at CostCo, maybe most of it isn’t absorved but enough to keep my D and Iron at/near normal levels.

  24. Drew2u says:

    Does the FDA not have the capability to figure out what forms of what vitamins and minerals are absorbable by the human body (say, calcium, as per your example) and issue a blanket, “If the product you want us to review does not meet these guidelines, are in at least one of these forms, we will not issue an approval”?
    Certainly Fish Oil is regulated from “Omega 3” to “EPA and DHA”, so why not make that same requirement for vitamin or mineral suppliments?

  25. Drew2u says:

    I know I’m taking my chances of accumulating mercury with fish oil pills, but what has me worried are “krill pills”.
    Think about it; we’ve essentially poisoned the lifesource of planet, the oceans, with almost everything imaginable. Now we are going to extract the very foundation of the food-chain that sustains every living thing and bottle it for ourselves? That’s kind of fucked up. But, ya know, fish farms = inherently bad.

  26. Drew2u says:

    With a population of 316 million people over 3.79 million square miles, comprising of densely-packed urban areas to sparsely populated rural woodlands, the greatest income disparity between the rich and poor ever seen by this country, and a cultural hodgepodge stemming from every single other country on the planet, what exactly is the Standard American Diet?
    I get your point, but the painting of all Americans as eating poorly from the same foodstuffs is very … whatever the opposite of nationalistic is; a bigotry towards a country that could be found in almost any youtube video comments section.
    You could just have easily said “eating an excess of calorie-rich, nutrient-defficient, cheap foods” if that was your view of what the stereotypical American eats.

  27. Naja pallida says:

    I’ve long figured most vitamins and supplements (especially multi-vitamins) were nothing more than an expensive way to turn your urine unnatural colors, but in my older age, certain conditions have lead me to rely on a few things that I’ve seen specific benefits from.

  28. kuanyinguy says:

    So a study is basically saying the equivalent of cheap fast food may not be beneficial to health or may not prevent disease. That study wouldn’t be very informative. Neither is this study very informative which uses low quality (and some potentially toxic ingredients) and low potency vitamins and minerals.

    The use of Centrum is particularly misleading. Centrum is one of the worst multivitamins out there. Several important aspects make it one of the worst. I worked in the vitamin industry for years and have seen a lot of lies and crap out there. (Disclosure- I have no ties to the vitamin industry and make no money by selling vitamins.)

    All the minerals in Centrum are basically ores, and most are not very available to the body. For example, the calcium in Centrum is from calcium carbonate, the same chemical as limestone and oater shell. It is, at best, 5% absorbable (from studies done in the 1950’s) but it is a concentrated and cheap source of calcium, and makes a great antacid. All the minerals in Centrum are the least bioavailable rocks that are ground to a powder But they’re cheap and Centrum can put it on the label that it contains such and such mineral. Better forms of calcium (none are 100% absorbable but some come closer to 50% absorbable) are calcium malate and calcium citrate, that are attached to Kreb’s cycle carriers and the body will recognize the carrier and pull the mineral with it inside the cells that absorb minerals in the gut. Better vitamin companies take the ores and chelate them with proteins (which increases absorbability somewhat) and the best companies use minerals that are reacted with weak acids, like citric acid. Thus, calcium carbonate plus citric acid yields calcium citrate (and CO2 and water). Any minerals that are carbonates, oxides, and sulfates are the cheapest and least absorbable, all of which are used in Centrum.

    I couldn’t even find an actual official ingredient list from Centrum, They just say “What’s inside” and list the name of the mineral and vitamin but don’t tell you the form (chemical name) of the mineral or vitamin. A tip off that the ingredients are cheap.

    In addition, look on the label, (from another site) which lists Nickel. Not a mineral that is considered vital and essential but is more likely a result of using cheap ores and it’s an impurity from cheap ores that they won’t get out. In fact, nickel is considered toxic and no other reputable vitamin company that I’ve seen has it in theirs.

    Next is the fact that the minerals in Centrum (and other companies) are compressed into a swallowable table with a lot of tabletting agents (some necessary like magnesium stearate, which helps the ingredients flow better in the processing) and a lot of ingredients that are completely unnecessary and some are just undesirable: Talc is one (can cause adhesions), artificial color and flavor (why does a pill need flavor?), titanium dioxide (not essential, just a whitening agent, like white paint), BHT (potentially toxic preservative) and many other problematic ingredients that aren’t necessary as tabletting agents to make vitamins pills.

    Next look at the vitamins themselves. Vitamin E has a right and left handed form (chirality) and the human body only uses and recognizes the D form (e.g. d-alpha tocopherol. The L form isn’t made in nature, only by making artificial vitamin E. Therefore, man made vitamin E is DL-alpha tocoperol and the L part is about 50% of the whole and totally useless to a human. But Centrum lists their vitamin E (as 60 IU dl-alpha tocopheryl) knowing that it is about 50% worthless. Then you’re getting about 30 IU of beneficial d-alpha tocopheryl. Here’s a source for the making of vitamin E:

    Next, look at the amounts and the % daily value. The water soluble vitamins (which will be used or be filtered out in a few hours) in Centrum are very small, none being more than 100% which is just enough to save you from pellagra and beriberi for a day, but won’t do much for treating the deficiency that many come from a poor diet. Not that a person may need high doses of these, but you won’t see major benefits taking a one a day that is urinated out in a few hours. Better to take doses spread out over the day.

    Sure, a few vitamins can be toxic in large amounts (fat soluble Vit A, D, E, and K) and need to be taken in moderation but most are water soluble and are urinated out. At worst, the result is expensive urine. For many stressed out people the B vitamins in particular are lacking. Vitamin B12 has many symptoms that could explain a lot of modern diseases that are ignored by doctors as another disease, and not just pernicious anemia (see the book Could it Be B12, by a nurse and a D.O.).

    By the way, I see this all the time in the media but it’s NOT true that the FDA has no control over supplements. My pharmacology teacher said the same thing until I corrected her. The FDA has total control over supplements, inspects vitamin companies, and regularly restrict sales of supplements, especially the nether world of body building supplements. (Body building supplements have the worst track record of using soon-to-be-banned substances by the FDA, like ephedra and GHB, both now banned substances. Banned by the FDA.)
    Don’t believe me?Just look at the FDA website. Not the main website because they hide it in a page called, ironically enough, Transparency Basics. Here the FDA lists the items they regulate and iit includes supplements. See after the FDA is responsible for: •protecting the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, quality, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products, medical devices, most of our nation’s food supply, all cosmetics, dietary supplements, and products that give off radiation, regulating tobacco products.

    They just don’t like to regulate supplemetns because the burden of proof that the supplement is dangerous is on the FDA to prove, due to the DSHEA act of 1994 (which the FDA, as a tool of the Rx drug industry, is always out to modify or repeal).

    This Centrum study is just another flawed study to prove that vitamins are either dangerous or don’t do anything (mutually exclusive ideas, there) so just buy more drugs.

    Here’s what a nutritionist says about Centrum (I have no connection to this person).

    Always buy high quality supplements from reputable sources, not drug stores or grocery stores, in a place where knowledgable sales staff can answer questions. Avoid body building shops or anyplace with towers of protein powder and the like. Avoid sulfates, oxides, carbonates as minerals. Instead look for malates, citrates and other good forms. Look for natural Vitamin E as d-alpha tocopherol. And look for capsules or tablets that you can crush in your fingers, not those hard as bullets tablets sold for health but are just hard rocks, like Centrum.

  29. GarySFBCN says:

    There’s this – “CONCLUSIONS: Antisocial behaviour in prisons, including violence, are reduced by vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids with similar implications for those eating poor diets in the community.”

    I take fish oil, calcium with D (medically recommended), folic acid + B6 and collagen + magnesium. (tendon/ligament health after bad injury), and I’m considering going a few other supplements (I definitely don’t get enough iodine in my diet when I am in the US), especially those that favor the glands in the endocrine system.

  30. Mine actually went back to normal after taking I think 1000mg a day for about a year.

  31. I still take a multivitamin and try to take fish oil

  32. I already sort of thought this way about multi vitamins but I will continue to take my fish oil and coq10.

  33. Monoceros Forth says:

    Yeah, the whole “supplements” business is pretty ridiculous from start to finish–and remember that it exists largely because Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, who gets a lot of money from Utahn manufacturers of herbal products, pushed the “Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994” on us. (Of course it was all about freedom and fighting the tyranny of government regulation.) So now it’s perfectly fine for someone to fill gelatine capsules with floor wax and pencil shavings so long as they call it a “dietary supplement” and put some weasel words on the label.

  34. billdavis says:

    You cand take all of the vitamins you want, or not, but if you are eating the standard Amercan diet you are still killing yourself.

  35. bkmn says:

    And Canada has sharply curtailed their doctors use of the Vitamin D test because there are no good clinical trials that taking a Vitamin D supplement has any benefit. Check out a talk by Dr. David Agus on MPR where he discusses this subject.

  36. devlzadvocate says:

    Then there is the entire separate theory that all those vitamins don’t even do a thing unless they are chelated (i.e. bound to amino acids to absorb).

  37. devlzadvocate says:

    Heimeay, that’s what I was going to say, but it isn’t just NYers. If you are a person concerned about skin CA, you are probably going to need a D supplement. If I am not mistaken, the referenced report concerned mulitple vitamins, not necessarily specific vitamins for individual targeted need.

  38. Hue-Man says:

    My initial reaction was that these studies don’t tell you much about NOT taking multi-vitamins but I quickly flipped it around to realize that for the billions of dollars spent on vitamins, there are almost no studies justifying their use to prevent ANY disease. It’s much like the FDA’s new interest in anti-bacterial hand sanitizers – we, as consumers, have assumed that we’re better off because nobody told us we’re worse off! Logically, this is not a ringing endorsement.

    Coincidentally, at my first visit with my new internist yesterday, he was categorically opposed to “herbal” supplements. They often include undisclosed ingredients – “natural” is not always non-toxic! – are almost totally unregulated and can be dangerous to organs that you otherwise rely on to stay alive. I’ll stick to my Vitamin D until I find someone to whisk me away to sunnier and more tropical climes.

  39. heimaey says:

    My doctor says to only bother with Vitamin D because I don’t get enough sun and that my levels are always low (like most NYers).

  40. bkmn says:

    I’ve long believed that vitamins in pill form are too concentrated for the body to be able to absorb and utilize, instead may be so concentrated that they put extra stress on the body to eliminate them.

    I prefer to eat a variety of fruit and veggies…whole foods, but not from hole in your pocket foods (the CEO is a nasty dude who likes to think he is liberal but acts like a heartless republican).

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