One in two adults takes a daily vitamin pill, and Americans spend tens of billions of dollars each year on supplements. Now, a small coterie of physicians writing in a leading medical journal has offered this blunt advice: “Stop wasting money.”
In an unusually direct opinion piece, the five authors said that for healthy Americans worried about chronic disease, there is no clear benefit to taking vitamin and mineral pills. And in some instances, they may even cause harm.
The authors made an exception for supplemental vitamin D, which they said needed further research. Even so, widespread use of vitamin D pills “is not based on solid evidence that benefits outweigh harms,” the authors wrote. For other vitamins and supplements, “the case is closed.”
“The message is simple,” the editorial continued. “Most supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death, their use is not justified, and they should be avoided.”
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“We have so much information from so many studies,” Dr. Cynthia D. Mulrow, senior deputy editor of Annals of Internal Medicine and an author of the editorial, said in an interview. “We don’t need a lot more evidence to put this to bed.”
Officials at the Natural Products Association, a trade organization that represents supplement suppliers and retailers, said they were shocked by what they called “an attack” on their industry, pointing to a study published last year that found a modest reduction in overall cancers in a long, randomized, controlled trial of 15,000 male doctors.
Demand for vitamin and mineral supplements has grown markedly in recent years, with domestic sales totaling some $30 billion in 2011. More than half of Americans used at least one dietary supplement from 2003 to 2006, up from 42 percent from 1988 to 1994, according to national health surveys conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The most popular products are multivitamin and mineral supplements, which are consumed by some 40 percent of men and women in the United States, according to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
Pediatrics group warns against raw milk
LOS ANGELES — The American Academy of Pediatrics on Monday warned that pregnant women and children should not drink raw milk and said it supports a nationwide ban on the sale of raw milk because of the danger of bacterial illnesses.
The group’s statement said it supports federal health authorities “in endorsing the consumption of only pasteurized milk and milk products for pregnant women, infants and children.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration prohibits the interstate shipment of raw milk for human consumption, though it allows transport of some clearly labeled raw cheeses.
Raw milk from cows, sheep and goats is a source of pathogens such as listeria, salmonella and E. coli — which can cause serious, even fatal, illness, the pediatricians’ policy statement said.
And it contends that the benefits of raw milk “have not been clearly demonstrated in evidence-based studies” and do not outweigh the risks.
Los Angeles Times