Are you wasting money on vitamins?

There are some who swear by massive doses of vitamins, others by smaller doses. But there appears to be building evidence that they do nothing at all and you are best to save your money.

One in two adults takes a daily vitamin pill, and Americans spend tens of billions of dollars each year on supplements. Now, a small coterie of physicians writing in a leading medical journal has offered this blunt advice: “Stop wasting money.”

In an unusually direct opinion piece, the five authors say that for healthy Americans worried about chronic disease, there’s no clear benefit to taking vitamin and mineral pills. And in some instances, they may even cause harm.

The authors make an exception for supplemental vitamin D, which they say needs further research. Even so, widespread use of vitamin D pills “is not based on solid evidence that benefits outweigh harms,” the authors wrote. For other vitamins and supplements, “the case is closed.” 

“The message is simple,” the editorial continued. “Most supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death, their use is not justified, and they should be avoided.”

“We have so much information from so many studies,” Dr. Cynthia Mulrow, senior deputy editor of Annals of Internal Medicine and an author of the editorial, said in an interview. “We don’t need a lot more evidence to put this to bed.”

Watch the proponents claim this is big pharma trying to silence them.

Demand for vitamin and mineral supplements has grown markedly in recent years, with domestic sales totaling some $30 billion in 2011. More than half of Americans used at least one dietary supplement from 2003-06, up from 42 percent from 1988-94, according to national health surveys conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The most popular products are multivitamin and mineral supplements, which areconsumed by some 40 percent of men and women in the United States, according to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Whether regular long-term use can prevent heart disease and cancer has never been clearly established, and the authors of the editorial are not the first to point that out.

The Cochrane Collaboration, which publishes reviews of medical evidence, has also concluded that taking vitamins does not extend life. An updated review of the evidence by the United States Preventive Services Task Force, published online on Nov. 12, likewise concluded that there was limited evidence that vitamin and mineral supplementation could prevent cancer or cardiovascular disease.

$30 billion per annum to achieve nothing…hmmm

  • SteveWrathall

    Expensive urine

  • nellie

    Placebo effect? If you can afford it, and it doesn’t harm, who cares?

    • Chancey

      if you like swallowing sewage sludge

      • nellie

        Yep, freedom of choice and all that…

    • James Howlett

      There are studies suggesting it may cause some harm. Not conclusive but interesting, wish I had the link to hand. Wherever it was I read it was enough to make me give up take vitamin pills about a year ago. Upped my vege intake haven’t been sick since (but I didn’t get sick much before either so the vits don’t seem to have made a difference either way).

      • nellie

        I suppose there’s so many of them. Some may be harmful, others maybe harmless. As someone said, do you research and make your choices, but surely no-one can blanket say ‘they’re all a useless and dangerous’.

        Edit for spelling

  • Ben

    I take whale oil every day and it has done wonders for my haemorrhoids.

    • Col

      This works, one piece of peeled garlic, poke it up there and you will fix the problem, and this is no bullshit.

      • LabTested

        I just googled that & its true!! I wonder who discovered this cure & what other vegetables they tried first.

        • PsychoKea

          Len could probably give you some tips

        • Col

          So lab you thought I would tell a lie like Lenny, you have made me feel you don’t trust me, I only tell lies to the Left, to piss them off. in this case it would put a cracker up there bum and light the fuse, should get them out of the way.

      • Ben

        Let us hope it does not have the same effect as It does on cats!

        • LabTested

          why are you shoving garlic up your cats arse?

        • Col

          No, but the Misses won’t know your farting.

      • Ronnie Chow

        That will give you a fever , as used in Soviet Siberian gulags to get oneself into the infirmary for some warmth .

  • PsychoKea

    Vitamins certainly superfluous most of the time if you eat properly , although I know of someone who exhibited early signs of scurvy due to a poor diet. There are however many supplements or nutraceuticals that do have a body of published evidence behind them for certain conditions, although not all claims are legitimate you need to do your own research

  • Polish Pride

    Wow! I guess they must be really starting to hit Big Pharma where it hurts the most. Right in the pocket.`
    For me personally 4000mg vit C, 4000mg vit D, Cq10and Vit B Complex 3-4 times per week.
    Didn’t get a cold or flu this year for the first time eve.
    Can’t remember the last time I had to go to the Doc.
    I don’t take them to extend my life. I don’t take them for Chronic illness. I take them because I feel great and energized when I do.

    • PsychoKea

      That is a shit load of Vitamin D

    • Ronnie Chow

      I bet your pee is bright golden yellow . That’s the vitamins .

      “So why does it turn pee yellow? The answer is simply how the body gets rid of excess.

      Several studies have shown that approximately 50% of all excess riboflavin gets excreted in the urine. Those same studies show that the maximum amount that can be absorbed in a single dose was about 27mg, with half of that being absorbed in the first 1.1 hours. Given that the recommended adult daily intake of riboflavin is between 1-1.6mg per day and some common doses of riboflavin in multivitamins (that I could find) are 25, 50, and 100 mg, it’s easy to see that excess amounts can be easily attained.

      The result is a nice color to your urine that, if you’re a hypochondriac, may make you think you’re dying. As a doctor friend of mine remarked when I was discussing this with him and excessive amounts of unneeded vitamins Americans buy every year, “Americans have the most expensive urine in the world. It’s like flushing money down the drain.”

      • Col

        True, but what is the urine taking with it when your body has taken what it wants, or can store. I remember every smoke you had you lost 25mg of Vit. C.

        • Ronnie Chow

          Urea , chloride , sodium , potassium . Great for pot plants .

    • Col

      You ok except for the D, I think there is to much hype re Vit. D.

    • Stephen

      Yep, spot on.
      When you get older you eat less and much of the food we eat now has limited or impotent vitamin content. Many vitamins are destroyed by heat.
      You are actually water and vitamin c plus minerals . That’s all.

      As you get older you definitely benefit.

      Anyway it’s a personal choice so the smart areses that write this shit can fuck off.

    • Ben

      I have not had a cold/flu in five years and do no take any of this junk. The simple expedients of good hygiene and hand washing work wonders.

      Sorry, mate, but you are a sucker.

      • Ronnie Chow

        And don’t kiss , it can cause cavities……

    • TomTom

      Just eat your goddamn 5+ veg and fruit a day – you’ll get far more out of that. Are people so damn lazy these days that they can’t even be bothered to boil a carrot, potato, green veg, and have an apple and a banana for a snack?

      Also – correlation does not equal causation, personal anecdotes does not equal evidence

      • caochladh

        Due to the supermarkets desire for shelf life and the cold chain, you would get more nutritional value eating the plastic bag.

    • http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/ Travis Poulson

      ” I take them because I feel great and energized when I do.”

      Yea, regular exercise does that too.

  • Kopua Cowboy

    Hurting big pharma, I think not. They aren’t stupid, they will be pumping this crap out through companies they own

    • drummerboy

      they do, but they don’t pump out real vitimans, they produce cheap synthetic imitations. pharma companies don’t want a healthy population, because who then would buy their drugs?

  • cows4me

    A bit of apple cider vinegar in a class of water every morning is my total spend on vitamins.

    • Col

      Include some honey with that.
      C/v will breakdown fats so they say if taken every morning.
      Also if you take your local honey your Hay fever should stop after a 2 or 3 days, the local pollen from the bees.

      • cows4me

        Thanks Col , might try the honey, don’t have issues with hay fever.

        • Steve (North Shore)

          Col,
          are you saying that C4M likes the local honey?

  • Col

    If you can take them, if you can’t eat veggies, a little will always help.

  • unitedtribes

    I just take food every day and I’m OK. Perhaps every other day would be better on second thoughts.

    • Cowgirl

      Would much rather eat an apple a day than vitamins

      • Stephen

        Best you check out how much vitaimin is left after the apples are stored for a few months.
        sfa.

  • Cowgirl

    And yet Dr Oz pushes them on his show to millions of people on a daily basis

    • Stephen

      Ah yes, but like food, alcohol, and sex. Everything in moderation.

      Oh by the way did you know according to the food sceptics that meat isn’t good for you and neither is white bread (hahahaha),potatoes make you fat apparently, saturated and unsaturated fats are not good for you and neither is MacDonalds.

      Oh for Christ’s sake starve. I don’t care.

      • Cowgirl

        Everything in moderation, including moderation.
        I’m taking some vitamins at the moment, but generally don’t as I find they tend to bloat me and clog up my system. I’m just trying to use them up so I can divest myself of stuff in my house.

        • TomTom

          Just chuck em in the rubbish. They’re not worth taking, either.

    • TLL

      But generally is suggesting them as a result of a certain problem. I was home one day and caught one of his shows where he was doing some sort of summary, and he did say that if you have a good intake of fruit and green veges you should not need any supplement.

      • Cowgirl

        I must have missed that show. I don’t watch it as a rule due to the amount of vitamin pushing he does.

        • TLL

          If you ignore the topics of his show, and heeded his recommendations you would be taking vitamins for Africa.

          • Cowgirl

            Exactly – my husband watches the show and is a bit of a hypochondriac, but even he had to admit that he couldn’t take all the vitamins recommended in one day, nor eat all the suggested foods.

  • caochladh

    It doesn’t matter what you consume these days, as someone, somewhere will come up with a hundred reasons why you shouldn’t be eating it.

  • Rod

    The harm caused by prescribed drugs way outweighs any caused by supplements. Statins are but one example, and are often prescribed to people who are in good health, just because their cholesterol is a little above an arbitrary figure that someone has decide should be the norm.
    We used to go to the doctor when we were sick, hoping to be made well. We now go when we are feeling well and come away after being told we are in fact sick….

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