• Americans Not Falling For Fake News About Dietary Supplements; Use Of Vitamin Supplements Continues to Grow

    Posted July 3, 2019: by Bill Sardi

    A quick read of recent news headlines suggest most Americans must be dumb and dumber for taking dietary supplements.

    • Poll finds 86% of Americans take vitamins or supplements yet only 21% have a confirmed nutritional deficiency. – American Osteopathic Association
    • Americans Spend Billions on Vitamins and Herbs That Don’t Work – Healthline
    • Vitamins and Supplements Can’t Replace a Balanced Diet, Study Says – Time Magazine
    • Save Your Money: no evidence brain health supplements work, say experts.  – The Guardian (UK)
    • Dietary supplements don’t reduce mortality rates – Big Think
    • Do vitamin  and mineral pills actually work? No, say scientists.  — Newsweek
    • Do multivitamins even do anything.  – Men’s Health

    Balance the above news headlines with the following facts:

    According to a poll sponsored by the Council For Responsible Nutrition (representing dietary supplement makers), 75% of US adults take dietary supplements, up from 65% in 2009.

    Hey, Americans must all be mindless consumers of dietary supplements.  Or they really don’t believe the anti-dietary supplement propaganda.  In this era of fake news, methinks it is the latter, which suggests the American public is not as naïve as one might think.

    A report published in Pharmacy Times notes that “more than 90% of Americans fall short of obtaining the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) or Adequate Intake (AI) of at least 1 vitamin or mineral from food alone. Unlike Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs), which represent the nutritional level sufficient for 97% to 98% of all healthy individuals, the EAR represents the quantity of a given nutrient sufficient to meet the requirements of 50% of healthy individuals within a given age- and gender-specific group. 

    EAR levels represent a less stringent metric of dietary adequacy than RDA levels. The Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) values represent the intake level for a nutrient at which the needs of half of the healthy population is adequate and half is inadequate.  Yet, the vast majority of Americans fail to meet this basic measure of dietary adequacy based on food alone.

    The vast majority of Americans fail to meet this basic measure of dietary adequacy based on food alone.

    And 98% of individuals who reported taking multivitamins regularly achieved intakes of vitamin D at or above EAR levels compared to only 4% of individuals who reported not taking a supplement. Corresponding proportions of individuals in these 2 groups with intakes at or above EAR levels for vitamin E (100% vs 12%), vitamin A (100% vs 47%), vitamin C (99% vs 50%), magnesium (82% vs 42%), and calcium (89% vs 62%) demonstrate the value of multivitamins in preventing nutritional shortfalls, said the Pharmacy Times report. Multivitamins anyone?

    An authoritative report ignored by news agencies, published in The Nutrition Journal, states:

    “The typical American diet bears little resemblance to what experts recommend for fruit, vegetables, and whole grains, which serve as important sources of an array of vitamins and minerals. With time, deficiencies in one or more micronutrients may lead to serious health issues.

    Persistent or periodic nutritional gaps are common in the general population, and people who don’t consume adequate amounts of certain foods may have nutrient shortfalls. Over the course of a lifetime, deficiencies in one or more nutrients may contribute to serious health issues. Date shows total usual intakes from all food sources (excluding supplements) below the EAR for vitamins A, C, D, and E (45%, 37%, 93%, 91%, respectively), calcium (49%), and magnesium (55%).

    In another national US study, regular use of supplements resulted in an estimated greater than 75% decrease in the proportion of older persons with inadequate micronutrient intakes.

    Did you ever hear about the French multivitamin study?  a supplement containing ascorbic acid 120 mg, vitamin E 30 mg, βeta-carotene 6 mg, selenium 100 µg, and zinc 20 mg. This supplement was associated with a 31% reduction in overall cancer incidence and a 37% reduction in overall mortality.

    I’ve maintained public health authorities, representing the medical profession, game the public for more disease to treat.

    By the way, the dietary supplement industry continues to lobby for multivitamins to be covered under nutrition assistance programs paid for by the US government.  We really don’t want government setting the standards for vitamin supplements.  And once government pays for anything, the price soars beyond affordability.

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