New articlehttp://theweek.com/article/index/254290/how-the-vitamin-industrial-complex-swindled-americaHow the vitamin industrial complex swindled America
Blame money, politics, and a flawed genius named Linus Pauling
By Peter Weber | 11:22am ET
Questions about the health benefits of vitamin supplements have been percolating in the medical establishment for decades — even as the multivitamin industry has grown to a multi-billion powerhouse in the U.S. This week, the respected journal the Annals of Internal Medicine put its well-heeled foot down.
"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," the journal said in an editorial. "These vitamins should not be used for chronic disease prevention. Enough is enough."
Here's Dr. Edgar Miller of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, one of the editorial's five co-authors: "What will protect you is if you spend the money on fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, low fat dairy, things like that," Miller tells CBS News. "Exercising would probably be a better use of the money." The only exceptions are folic acid for pregnant women and, possibly, vitamin D — the studies are mixed on its benefits and risks.
Assuming Miller and his colleagues are right — and they base their assertion on three large, recent studies — Americans have been wasting lots of money on vitamins. About half of U.S. adults take dietary supplements, and the vitamin industry has grown to $12 billion a year for vitamins alone and about $30 billion for all dietary supplements. That's just in the U.S.
How did the vitamin industry convince Americans that they need to bulk up on vitamin A, vitamin C, various forms of vitamin B, and other vitamins or multivitamin supplements? "Vitamin manufacturers argue that a regular diet doesn't contain enough vitamins, and that more is better," and most people wrongly assume that "at the very least, excess vitamins can't do any harm," Paul Offit, an infectious disease specialist at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said in The New York Times in June.
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