Does taking 22 pills a day make you any healthier?

TIME magazine’s senior writer John Cloud recently pondered the question of nutraceutical dietary supplements in this way:

“Vitamins, probiotics, omega-3 capsules, antioxidant pills: they can’t hurt, right? Around the corner of each advancing birthday lurks a possible affliction –  arthritis, cancer, Alzheimer’s – and a giant industry has emerged to try to prevent them all.

“North Americans now spend an estimated $28 billion a year on dietary supplements –  more than twice what we spent in 1995 and more than $5 billion more than what we pay each year for gym memberships. But do supplements actually work?”

Here’s what happened to John:     ,     Continue reading

News flash: food is better than supplements for staying healthy

You may wonder why anything this obvious even needs to be reported as “news” in the first place. Yet that’s what’s happened this week over the issue of whether taking vitamin supplements can ward off cancer and other serious diseases better than eating healthy food does. Pitching this supplement claim is like a dream fantasy for legitimate supplement manufacturers and snake oil salesmen alike, so both groups will be disappointed by this “news”.

Sally Scroggs, health education manager at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Medical Center’s Cancer Prevention Center, has announced in a news release:

“Researchers are still unsure about whether or not minerals, herbs and other plants taken in pill, capsule, tablet or liquid form actually prevent cancer.”

Researchers may be unsure, but luckily for the supplement industry, a gullible public remains profitably convinced that not only should we all take expensive vitamins and supplements, but that it simply is not humanly possible to consume the nutrients that we need with mere food alone.   Continue reading