Happy holidays, everyone! I hope everyone is enjoying family, friends, and time to catch up on what really matters. We all have a lot of things to do, so I’m going to keep this post short and sweet: if you want to see many more holiday seasons, throw out your daily multivitamins.
According to new research, multivitamin supplements produce no health benefits and might even be harmful. Three major studies examined multivitamins’ effectiveness in preventing chronic disease, cancer, and cognitive decline. While researchers across the board found no benefits associated with the supplements, one study recommended against taking vitamin E or beta-carotene to prevent heart disease or cancer, finding they may put already at-risk individuals in increased danger.
These findings will lead to massive changes within the supplement industry. After all, companies will no longer be able to market multivitamins with current health claims. Or so you would think. Here’s a well kept secret—the US supplement industry is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. These companies can make nearly any medical assertion and bypass the regulatory process.
If you think this is outrageous, you’re right. So long as a supplement does not make a specific claim, it heads to the pharmacy shelves scrutiny free. Ever noticed how supplement labels always make really general claims with an asterisk (“Promotes heart health and cleanses the body of harmful chemicals*”)? Find the asterisk and it will say that these claims are not evaluated by the FDA. This print is tiny.
So why can these untested and unverified products make their way to the public? The answer is money. In 1994, supplement-industry lobbyists pushed Congress to pass the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, legislation designed to broadly define alternative-medicine supplements and exempt them from regulation. Labelled the Snake Oil Protection Act by the New York Times, the bill has allowed the alternative medicine industry to grow unchecked by regulators. This has worked out marvelously for sellers: the industry is expected to bring in more than $60 billion in revenue this year, and according to some estimates, more than half of Americans take some sort of multivitamin or supplement.
There is much, much more to say about alternative medicine, supplements, and the absence of appropriate regulation in the US, but as promised I’m going to keep this post short. Enjoy the holidays (without the multivitamins), and I’ll have more on the issue in the coming weeks. Be sure to come back next week for some controversy… To ensure maximum coolness, please like, share, or reblog this post if you enjoy it. That small click really helps me out, yo. Be sure to check me out on Twitter and Facebook as well. Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to subscribe for new content every Wednesday! IT’S FREE!
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Comment question of the week
Do you use multivitamins? If so, will this change your habits? If not, is this surprising or expected?