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]