Enough Is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

Wyeth Centrum

“We believe that the case is closed — supplementing the diet of well-nourished adults with (most) mineral or vitamin supplements has no clear benefit and might even be harmful.”

That’s the word from a group of doctors whose study has just been published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. As with most academic journals, the study is full of jargon so CBS News has dumbed it down for us laypeople:

The first study, which was released online Nov. 12 in Annals, was a review of 24 studies and two trials on more than 350,000 individuals that looked at vitamin supplementation’s role in preventing chronic disease. The review was conducted to find evidence that can be used to update vitamin treatment guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a panel of medical experts who recommend the government on treatments.

That review found no evidence that vitamin and mineral supplementation would reduce heart disease in pill takers. Two of the trials found a small, “borderline-significant benefit” in cancer risk reduction, but only in men. Overall, the panel concluded there was no solid evidence for or against taking vitamins and minerals alone, or that a multivitamin to prevent heart disease or cancer. More strikingly, it found enough evidence to recommend against taking beta-carotene or vitamin E for preventing both diseases, finding they not only didn’t help but the former may raise risk for lung cancer for already at-risk individuals.

“In the absence of clear evidence about the impact of most vitamins and multivitamins on cardiovascular disease and cancer, health care professionals should counsel their patients to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet that is rich in nutrients,” the Task Force concluded.

The next study, published Dec. 16 in Annals, looked at cognitive health and whether long-term use of multivitamins would have any effect. Researchers assigned almost 5,950 male doctors aged 65 and older to take either a daily multivitamin or placebo for 12 years in a randomized, placebo-controlled trial,

Based on the results of memory tests, the researchers found the multivitamin did nothing to slow cognitive decline among men 65 and older compared to placebo takers.

“These data do not provide support for use of multivitamin supplements in the prevention of cognitive decline,” wrote the authors, led by Dr. Francine Grodstein, an epidemiologist who studies aging at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston…

[continues at CBS News]

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  • alizardx

    I stopped getting respiratory illnesses in winter when I started taking megavitamin supplements on a regular basis. This was an improvement on several weeks downtime every winter.

    Not recommending this, YMMV. It occurs to me that the people doing the study may have been looking in the wrong places for potential benefits.

    • donl

      Which ones you using..that’s helpfull info I could use!

      • alizardx

        usual disclaimers… doing one dose of high-dose megavitamin (look for the ones with >1000% DV of B1 as indicator), one dose of Calcium/Magnesium/Zinc (100% DV of each), 500 mg C, 1000 mg fish oil. No claims that these supplements will do anything for you.

        • donl

          Hi and thanks,,I’ll give it a try and be carefull….don

    • lgcamp

      And just maybe they are steering people away from the health benefits of vitamins and minerals so they will get more patients… whom they will steer toward Big Pharma. Just sayin’

      • alizardx

        I think it’s a matter of ideology.

        • lgcamp

          Te-he-he-he… I once heard that the average age of death for physicians is 55. I don’t know if that is true or not, but it wouldn’t surprise me. They are some of the most ignorant people when it comes to health. They should be relegated to the realm of trauma, emergency treatment and surgery because they have NO IDEA how to make people well.

  • http://pneumerology.com/ pneumerology

    People frequently take supplements based on limited science and advertising propaganda. The study studies those people and, unsurprisingly, concludes that you are (statistically) better off just eating a variety of decent food. They could just as well have been studying some other random thing, like what kind of music people listen to, and drawn similar conclusions.

    All this study really demonstrates is that nutrition and bio-chemistry are sciences, and must be practiced with scientific rigor in order to be effective.

    • Andrew

      Ay, there’s the rub! Most adults are not well-nourished, and most easily available food is not well-nourishing. Hence, the need for supplements.

      • Rus Archer

        yeah, frozen vegetables are really hard to find
        /huge eyeroll

        • Andrew

          Yeah, frozen vegetables are well-nourishing.
          /middle finger

          • festernaecus

            Apparently, they’re actually more nutritious than fresh, unless you’re pulling them directly out of the ground yourself.
            /fart

          • Andrew

            I’ll have to look into that. Later.
            /lays down with a headache

          • Bluebird_of_Fastidiousness

            It’s true that freezing is one of the better options for nutrition retention in preserved food. Unmentioned thus far is the quality of such food stuffs before they’ve been processed. Like most commercial foods, and all other processed foods, if you don’t personally know the producer then you’re really relying on branding to assure quality. A dubious methodology, at best.

            One of the key features of conventional agriculture is the capacity for unfit crops to reach market. Ecologically uncompetative, growing in depleted soils, it’s a wonder many of these plants grow at all, and they wouldn’t without modern industrial chemical application. And that’s even true of a lot of organics these days.

            Suffice it to say, plenty of high quality food is simply out of reach for a majority of people unless they get dirty and grow/preserve their own.

          • echar

            You seem to be knowledgeable on this topic. I had a idea while day dreaming about houses in the future with a horticulture room.

            My question is why is it uncommon to have a hydroponics or aeroponics room for vegetables in a home? Surely a greenhouse is likely the best option, yet some are not blessed with the space required.

          • Calypso_1

            It’s totally possible but still going to take up quite a lot of space to reach sustenance levels. Your going to have to use greenhouse cultivars or have fun w/ hand pollination.

          • echar

            I wonder if some inovation may aleviate some of the tediousness and space concerns.

          • Calypso_1

            If you already have exposed rafters, or don’t mind tearing into a ceiling to attach supports, there is a lot of empty overhead space. You could go all the way around a room with a PCV & lighting system using a simple pulley/cable setup for drop down access.

          • echar

            That’s a good point with the raised ceilings. If planned in advanced, this could go a long way.

            I have a feeling sensors and lighting connected to a computer may be of use. I bet someone could devise something with raspberry pi. This is all layman speculation, mind you. I don’t know the cost of useable sensors, nor what it takes to program the lights.

          • Bluebird_of_Fastidiousness

            My experience has been that indoor cultivation can be especially demanding. There is a tendency for the system to become imbalanced. Outside, there are established systems and communities of organisms that are well adapted to the climate and topography. In the hydroponics room, it’s up to you to strike that balance. It’s a lot of work, and no small portion of resources.

            My neighbor is integrating a greenhouse and aquaponics system ala Growing Power in Milwaukee. Fascinating stuff. I’m gonna continue to play in the dirt outside. Maybe someday I’ll trade him some lamb for fresh tomatoes.

          • Louis Janney

            I am really surprised that nobody has thought of creating indoor grow houses before now.

          • Rus Archer

            kale and mushrooms = hella easy to grow

          • Louis Janney

            A lot of the vacant foreclosed houses in Florida are also being used as grow houses.

          • moremisinformation

            Kale, yes. Mushrooms, much less so.

          • Rus Archer

            i must be doing it wrong then

          • moremisinformation

            It’s ridiculous to compare kale and mushrooms as “easy to grow”. One of them is essentially a weed (kale), the other has hundreds of thousands of internet forum pages dedicated to helping people work through their problems with growing – and those forums are generally dealing with the easier varieties to grow.

            You producing some mushrooms does not make them easy to grow. Aside from the fact that there are dozens of different varieties that people grow with varying degrees of difficulty, rendering the idea that “mushrooms” are easy to grow, a little lacking in substantial information.

          • Rus Archer

            i didn’t compare kale and mushrooms
            i mentioned them both
            as being easy to grow
            because i’ve done it with what i can hardly even consider minimal effort
            sorry life is so difficult for everyone else
            start a blog and cry about it

          • moremisinformation

            “i didn’t compare kale and mushrooms
            i mentioned them both
            as being easy to grow”

            Exactly, you compared them. You didn’t read or comprehend the sentence that I typed. By stating that mushrooms and kale are “hella easy”, you have likened (a component of comparing) them both – together, still with me – as being easy. You’ve compared them.

            Everything else that follows what I’ve quoted above is dubious, at best and pointless beyond qualifying at worst.

            Out of curiosity, what mushrooms did you grow and what substrate did you find that worked the best?

          • Rus Archer

            we can go e-prime if you want
            i had zero difficulty growing mushrooms and kale
            in fact, exerted almost zero effort growing mushrooms, kale, corn, potatoes, beans, squash and tomatoes

            i grew psilocybin mushrooms in a mix of peat moss and brown rice flour
            and shiitake that came ready to fruit in brick form
            i don’t know what substrate they used
            it cost me $25
            fed my housemate and myself for a couple months
            and required some the use of a squirtbottle once a day

            if we skip the e-prime
            i could go so far as to say it was ridiculously easy

          • moremisinformation

            English-prime?

            We’re making progress.

            Yea, psilocybes are one of the easier to grow, I agree with you. “Edibles”, as they say, or gourmets are a different matter. I was wondering about the block. Not to diminish your efforts but by the time you’ve received the block, I would say, conservatively, that 90% of the work has been done for you.

            I suppose “effort” needed to be defined. In my experience, growing food requires more effort than most of the western world feels they can afford to expend.

            Good to hear you’re successful with it though.

          • Rus Archer

            i also did this at 2 different homes http://www.fungi.com/product-detail/product/the-three-amigos-garden-pack.html
            but both times i had to move before fruiting
            so i don’t know what happened there

            at one place, i had over 7 foot tall potato plants
            and squash climbing up a willow over 2 stories high
            like weird heavy organic christmas tree ornaments

            i buy that mycogrow stuff from fungi perfecti
            mix it with the seeds
            mix that with chicken or cow shit
            throw it around the yard
            done
            stuff works like magic beans

          • lgcamp

            Yes, you are right about this. Why? They flash freeze the vegetables when they are super fresh so they don’t lose their vitamins/nutrients. Fresh vegetables set around on shelves while losing their nutrients. Good show, festernaecus!

  • American Cannibal

    I prefer Adderall to Centrum.

  • Dingbert

    For $15 a year, I think I’ll continue to listen to my own doctor, thank you. The article is in the “Editorials” section, after all.

  • Amacai Zerand

    As with most industries I’m sure that there is some unbacked up hype about vits and supplements. With that being said, here is my personal experience…

    I have multiple heart problems, an implanted defibrillator/pacemaker and a huge list of other things that are to tiring to go into here. I have severe arrhythmia which I can feel happening several times a minute when not on supplements. When I take Hawthorne (look it up on WebMD) I have one or two arrhythmias a day, if that. So it is either having an effect on my heart or clouding my mind to noticing these things.

    As should be obvious, I am not a health professional and the above is not medical advise, only my personal experience.

    • Joseph A. Shapiro

      Vitamins and supplements are indeed very effective. My wife and I feel much better when taking them. We’ve even come across one company that guarantees you’ll feel better after 90 days. And if you don’t, you return the empty containers to and they’ll refund your money!

      Processed food manufacturers compete with each other for shelf space and brand loyalty and answer to their shareholders. Achieving both may mean using less or least cost ingredients. While we are spending less on food we are also getting less from food. It is reasonable to assume that food quality/nutritional value is one factor driving a lower percentage spend, but at the same time we are consuming more food than ever before. Consuming more processed food, meaning less fresh foods and ingredients, adds up to less spending.

      We have all noticed some package shrinkage but prices staying the same or increasing. Florida’s Natural Growers quietly reduced it’s half gallon orange juice volume from 64 FL.OZ. to 59 FL.OZ. but kept it in the same ‘looks like a half gallon’ container and at the same price or even higher. Tropicana orange juice made the first move on that front several years ago.

      Food processors pile the sugar, which also costs next to nothing, into our food and drink. High fructose corn syrup may cost less than sugar.

      When ordering a pizza, we’re all asked if we want a liter of soda for just another 25 or 50 cents. How else could we purchase and easily drink the equivalent of 1/2 cup or 25 teaspoons of sugar at such a low price? The list goes on and on. We primarily eat high fructose corn syrup, sugar, corn, some of what the package pictures on the front, additives, preservatives, food coloring, added vitamins and salt so we are spending less but eating more with the major tradeoff of less nutritional intake and more calories.

  • Skipy

    I’m going to call bullshit on this one. Years ago, I suffered from a brain illness called an AVM which acted like an atom bomb on my immune system; I would get sick so often that I soon gave up the former habit of viewing a flu bug as a temporary once-a-year event to be suffered through for a week or two. Rather getting the flu became a chronic illness I was afflicted so often. And then I began taking supplements. My first was a multi-vitamin; like magic within just a few days of taking it my body had more energy, my sinuses cleared some, and I just felt healthier all around. My next supplement was fish oil. Fish oil added to this effect of improved health and even made my hair look full and shiny. I also had more vibrant skin. The next supplement I began to take was odorless garlic which seemed miraculous as it cleared up my chronic sinusitis which I had suffered from for years. Next came vitamin D3 which was the final nail in the coffin of my terrible health. After I began taking D3 I never got sick; considering my previous state, this felt nothing short of miraculous.
    So the many blind-spots of science fails again in this “study.” I would like to deliberately inject these researchers with the hiv virus and then have them tell me if they feel supplements improve their quality of life or not.

  • Gimme a Break

    This study is complete rubbish… Vitamins and minerals are extremely vital to a person’s health. This study says vitamins don’t reduce heart disease or cancer… Those are diseases that occur after years of being unhealthy. Give me a break with this horrendous big pharma funded BS… Statin drugs cause more problems than any vitamin you could ever take, and I don’t hear them doing “studies” on that…

  • ewop07

    There has been a war on Vitamins and natural supplements for years. It’s about eliminating competition.

    • lgcamp

      And it’s called Codex Alimentarius. I’m wise to their tricks. I attribute my super health for many years now to good diet and certain vitamins/minerals. Everyone requires different vitamins/minerals according to their deficiencies.

  • wfzlsster

    All research on vitamins and supplements will be sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry, people we can trust.

    • lgcamp

      Ha! You got THAT right! 8-}

  • Rus Archer

    also, cannabis is bad for you

  • Adamas Macalz

    I call bulllshit. The overall health of my skin, immune system, and energy levels before and after I started taking various vitamins speaks for itself. These aren’t magic pills that make disease go away, these are the nutrients that your body needs in order to function properly. Taking a handful of vitamins is not substitute for a healthy diet, but combine the two and you have a formula for longevity.

    • Rus Archer

      or placebo effect works

    • Ryan Browne

      I believe that totally! They aren’t super pills its all about what u eat with the vitamins. Ur body doesn’t even absorb most vitamins without a meal anyway

  • mcubik

    lets see

    vitamins are a waste of time don t take them
    just eat fresh fruit and vegetables

    why would i want to eat fresh fruit and vegetables
    they suck

    you have to eat them because they have vitamins in them
    and if you don t
    you ll get sick and die

    but you just told me vitamins are a waste of time

    ah

    peace

  • infoboy

    But fish oil can be prescribed for heart disease in Britain. Is that not considered a supplement.

    • halfbeing

      Fish oil is about fats, not about vitamins and minerals.

    • Adam S.

      I switched away from fish oil to flax seed oil. Concerned about heavy metal contamination of fish.

      • infoboy

        BTW there is something called molecularly distilled fish oil. Ok I didn’t read the article properly. What about the fact that plenty of people get fatigue from magnesium deficiency tested for by gp if they complain of it, also many people are Vitamin D deficient which has a lot of evidence to show it is beneficial for conditions like breast cancer, osteoporosis and a lot more. Why doesn’t this study comment on this. the sweeping nature of its claims speak of bad science, reductionism etc

  • Juan

    I don’t care what this study suggests. I will continue to take my supplements everyday. Right now, I am doing zinc citrate, vitamin D, vitamin C and L-argineine. This is working for me. Even though I work in public buildings and deal witht the public everyday, I almost never get sick, and when I do, it’s usually mild and doesn’t last long.

    • lgcamp

      Good for you, Juan! Don’t let the bas-re-tards lie to you!

  • Joseph A. Shapiro

    Agree. Vitamins and supplements are indeed very effective. My wife and I feel much better when taking them. We’ve even come across one company that guarantees you’ll feel better after 90 days. And if you don’t, you return the empty containers for a full refund.

    Processed food manufacturers compete with each other for shelf space and brand loyalty and answer to their shareholders. Achieving both may mean using less or least cost ingredients. While we are spending less on food we are also getting less from food. It is reasonable to assume that food quality/nutritional value is one factor driving a lower percentage spend, but at the same time we are consuming more food than ever before.

    We have all noticed some package shrinkage but prices staying the same or increasing. Florida’s Natural Growers quietly reduced it’s half gallon orange juice volume from 64 FL.OZ. to 59 FL.OZ. but kept it in the same ‘looks like a half gallon’ container and at the same price or even higher. Tropicana orange juice made the first move on that front several years ago.

    Food processors pile on the sugar, which also costs next to nothing, into our food and drink. High fructose corn syrup may cost even less than sugar.

    When ordering a pizza, we’re all asked if we want a liter of soda for just another 25 or 50 cents. How else could we purchase and easily drink the equivalent of 1/2 cup or 25 teaspoons of sugar at such a low price? The list goes on and on.

    We primarily eat high fructose corn syrup, sugar, corn, some of what the package pictures on the front, additives, preservatives, food coloring, added vitamins and salt so we are spending less but eating more with the major tradeoff of less nutritional intake and more calories. How could supplements, taken in moderation, not have a positive effect.

    It would be interesting to see who funded the studies stating supplements are not effective, how the researchers arrived at those conclusions or if the sources were cut and pasted to appear as such, and what the researchers were actually studying/attempting to prove/disprove.

  • emperorreagan

    If we can’t synthesize it and charge you a 50,000x markup while the drug is covered under patent, then it absolutely does not work.

  • theArk42

    unfortunately vitamin studies are the easiest to mess with, and it’s not even considered tampering. by using the cheapest, nonabsorbable forms of vitamins. YES there are different FORMS OF VITAMINS! Some derived from natural, whole food sources, and other completely artificially created from vats of “nutritious” chemicals. Guess which ones tend to get used in the industry funded studies? Which is also what’s mainly in the cheap combination vitamins. Did you really think they could get a full daily dose of every vitamin you need in one little Flintstones shaped pill? Unfortunately, the good vitamin brands like Standard Process are prescription only.

    • JudgeNotLestYeBe

      Yes. You get what you pay for. Megafood is an example of a food based variety. Personally, I prefer herbal formulas with some exceptions such as vit B,C,D, as a good herbal complex has many of these vitamins and minerals in the bio available forms.

  • DeepCough

    Provided a person eats real food, food with actual nutrients in it, yes, these vitamin and mineral supplements are decidedly superfluous for everyone save those who suffer from chronic maladies.

  • halfbeing

    I have no way of knowing from your story whether the supplements really did benefit you or whether this was a placebo effect. I look to properly conducted clinical trials to get the answer.

  • JudgeNotLestYeBe

    I enjoy the fact that Centrum is the picture used for this article. Centrum has been known for years by serious vitamin users as being a subpar brand and includes chemicals that are listed as nutrients that have known negative health effects. Much of the reporting on these studies don’t cite the brands used, the dosages, the Daily Recommended Values by the FDA (which are grossly underestimated ie. vit C DRV of 60mg). Not to mention it is hard to conduct a double blind study using a multivitamin that can have +40 different vitamins and minerals. I would look at individual studies of each individual vitamin or mineral before claiming they don’t work. There is plenty of scientific evidence for a large percentage of them. Admittedly some of them lack a cost effective value to them as you would have to take doses so costly that there may be alternatives within natural health that would be more cost effective. Glucosamine is one example. There is a popular study of this supplement that is often reported as ‘proof’ that it doesn’t work. However the summary of the study says that it does work, but it costs too much for the benefits.

  • echar

    The way I understand it, there’s no silver bullet when it comes to health. However it can be beneficial to take Vitamin C, D, some enzymes, and some minerals ( green source from puritans pride). Like all things in life, too much can be bad. Such as too much antioxidants may cause liver problems. I call B.S. too.

  • http://wildbro.com/ Nanda Poblete

    this its all wrong.. “Medicine” its an economical institution world wide… i stopped trusting companies whos interest isnt society but instead of them self..

    you can check this out.. foodmatters.tv

  • Adam S.

    I declare FUCKT STUDY!
    ALL the test subjects were eating complete healthy diets while they were on the study.All that was actually tested was whether extra multivitamins are beneficial to people EATING A HEALTHY DIET.

    The only people in America who actually eat a healthy diet all the time are those two groups of test subjects

  • godozo

    Meh…

    Glucosamine and Condroitin (sp??) I’ve been doing for nearly ten years. Have done lots of experiments with them – half doses, off, tried out cartilage and Hyauronic Acid (so the guy shouting “Placebo Effect” can stuff it) – but I keep coming back to the old Glucosamine and Condroitin. Right now I’m trying Glucosamine (which seems to be the key from my experiments) and MSM to see if that works (had to add MSM after a while).

    Fish Oil (and Krill Oil) comes after trying out Statins and having that stuff mess with my muscles and short-term memory. Before the Oils my LDLs were very high and my HDL barely registered; with them they’re close to normal.

    Before Astaxanthin, Lutein and Xeaxanthin, my eyes had lost their ability to handle sunlight to the point where I was wearing shades most of the year, no matter how sunny it was. Now, I can actually go without sunglasses of any kind (though I do wear them sometimes, to protect my eyes further).

    So No, I’ll take this with a grain of salt. Not sure about the megavitamin regimen, but definitely not about to give up on the supplements in the near future.

  • Wausau News

    my God how uninformed the author is. the same pricks who politically run the planet, are the same ones running the news that this story is sourcing. they used only the crappiest vitamins from china loaded with gmo and chemicals.

  • TheLie

    But…I don’t take vitamins to prevent anything, nor do I know anyone who does. I take vitamins to get those that I don’t get from my diet.

  • Paul Rose

    How many Americans are “well nourished”? Statistical zero.

    Our soils are so worn out, the agricultural toxins so high, GMO’s, food harvested before ripening, and a host of other factors renders it impossible to be well nourished other than growing your own food on fresh fully fertile soils.

    Waste of money they say? I say suppements don’t cost all that much but medial care sure does. Nice try doctors, but it doesn’t fly.

    Take supplements, Go organic, go vegan, go raw, go heat distilled water…no more doctor :D