More Than 50% Of Americans Take Dietary Supplements

Photo: Ragesoss (CC)

Photo: Ragesoss (CC)

The proliferation of vitamins and diet supplements is healthy for the companies that flog them, but is it really beneficial for the hundreds of millions of people consuming them? Madison Park (real name, apparently, as I write a stone’s throw from Madison Square Park in NYC) reports for CNN:

As more than half of U.S. adults are popping vitamins and supplements, the question remains — has it made Americans healthier?

That depends on whom you ask.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that more of half of U.S. adults use dietary supplements — including multivitamins, minerals and herbs.

That rise, from 42% in 1988 to 53% in 2006, has fueled the growth of the supplement industry to a $27 billion behemoth, according to Consumer Reports.

Dietary supplements are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the same way as drugs. The makers do not have to prove safety or effectiveness.

“There’s a false perception that supplements fall under the same regulatory umbrella as prescription drugs,” said Dr. Orly Avitzur, medical adviser for Consumer Reports. “That’s not the case; we really don’t know what’s inside.”

The most popular supplements are multivitamins, used by 39% of U.S. adults in 2006.
Some consumers mistakenly view supplements as a way to make up for a poor diet.

“It’s a Band-Aid approach to think you can eat poorly and just take a vitamin and you’ll be equal to another person who eats well and exercises and takes care of their health and gets regular checkups,” Avitzur said. “There’s no substitute for a healthy lifestyle.”…

[continues at CNN]

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  • Butter Knife

    I’m much more frightened by Americans’ willingness to endlessly take cocktails of prescription drugs for any or no reason

    I suffer from mild, year-round allergies. I sneeze quite a bit, and my nose is virtually always stuffed up. It is, admittedly, a pain in my ass, and yet I manage to blow my nose through life sans medication, thankful that my cross is just annoying… I could, you know, have a real health issue.

    I have in fact tried various allergy cures, and my conclusion is that most of them have no effect, and the few that work make me drowsy, slightly confused, exacerbate my chronic dehydration (I need to drink more water… no exotic explanation necessary), make me more prone to moodiness and depression (to which I am already susceptible), and still don’t entirely eliminate my allergy symptoms.

    When a colleague of mine asked why I don’t take anything for my allergies(actually I do, but only when seasonal conditions make them so bad they substantially interfere with my ability to deal with life, usually 2-4 weeks out of the year), and my answer was that unless they are really bad, I prefer them to the side-effects of the meds, she sincerely suggested that I “just take something to help with those”. I just sort of looked at her, dumbfounded. I’m still not sure if she realizes what the common side effects of medications to make you less drowsy, confused and moody tend to be… part of me is afraid she honestly believes I’d be happier strung out on Adderol and Prozac than slightly stuffed up. Hell, I’m a clear candidate for one or both of those medications already, and I’m still leery of taking them.

    It boggles my mind that people are so willing to ingest powerful pharmaceutical compounds without any consideration of whether or not the problems they cause will be worse than the problems they solve.

  • Butter Knife

    I’m much more frightened by Americans’ willingness to endlessly take cocktails of prescription drugs for any or no reason

    I suffer from mild, year-round allergies. I sneeze quite a bit, and my nose is virtually always stuffed up. It is, admittedly, a pain in my ass, and yet I manage to blow my nose through life sans medication, thankful that my cross is just annoying… I could, you know, have a real health issue.

    I have in fact tried various allergy cures, and my conclusion is that most of them have no effect, and the few that work make me drowsy, slightly confused, exacerbate my chronic dehydration (I need to drink more water… no exotic explanation necessary), make me more prone to moodiness and depression (to which I am already susceptible), and still don’t entirely eliminate my allergy symptoms.

    When a colleague of mine asked why I don’t take anything for my allergies(actually I do, but only when seasonal conditions make them so bad they substantially interfere with my ability to deal with life, usually 2-4 weeks out of the year), and my answer was that unless they are really bad, I prefer them to the side-effects of the meds, she sincerely suggested that I “just take something to help with those”. I just sort of looked at her, dumbfounded. I’m still not sure if she realizes what the common side effects of medications to make you less drowsy, confused and moody tend to be… part of me is afraid she honestly believes I’d be happier strung out on Adderol and Prozac than slightly stuffed up. Hell, I’m a clear candidate for one or both of those medications already, and I’m still leery of taking them.

    It boggles my mind that people are so willing to ingest powerful pharmaceutical compounds without any consideration of whether or not the problems they cause will be worse than the problems they solve.

  • mrtastycakes

    Most people don’t know how to take supplements. Companies play to this by recommending doses that exceed the UL for noticeable but unhealthy effects (almost every B-vitamin supplement), have more than your body can absorb (of your 1000mg vitamin C capsule, 750mg comes out next time you pee), or use a cheap substitute (wondering why your stomach hurts and you have kidney stones from your calcium supplement? You chose carbonate). Of course, since there’s no regulation, sometimes they’ll just add a bunch of heavy metals for some reason.

  • mrtastycakes

    Most people don’t know how to take supplements. Companies play to this by recommending doses that exceed the UL for noticeable but unhealthy effects (almost every B-vitamin supplement), have more than your body can absorb (of your 1000mg vitamin C capsule, 750mg comes out next time you pee), or use a cheap substitute (wondering why your stomach hurts and you have kidney stones from your calcium supplement? You chose carbonate). Of course, since there’s no regulation, sometimes they’ll just add a bunch of heavy metals for some reason.

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