Scientists have been saying for years that there is not much evidence to suggest vitamin supplements for most people, and that a growing number of pills are useless and do not necessarily lead to good health.
However, the message has not yet arrived. More than half of American adults regularly consume food additives, which run an industry worth $ 50 billion annually.
That’s enough, say researchers. In a recent rejection of vitamin supplements, the U.S. Preventive Services Working Group (USPSTF) issued new recommendations that formally stated that there was insufficient evidence in the U.S. to offer supplements to prevent cardiovascular disease and cancer, the two leading causes of death.
The USPSTF’s new recommendations – the first recommendations for vitamin supplements since 2014 – were not easily accepted, but only after 84 studies evaluating the effects of the supplements involved a total of almost 740,000 participants.
“Unfortunately, based on the available evidence, the Working Group cannot recommend the use or contraindications of most vitamins and minerals and calls for more research,” said John Wong, interim USPSTF chief researcher.
However, some important caveats need to be taken into account, as not all findings were double-edged.
Due to the lack of evidence of lack of benefits, the new recommendations apply only to healthy adults without dietary supplements and do not apply to pregnant or trying to conceive people who are recommended to take folic acid supplements.
In addition, although the USPSTF found that it was generally unclear for supplements for healthy, non-pregnant adults, the data for two products in particular were less clear: vitamin E and beta-carotene, both are not recommended. .
“We found that taking vitamin E was of no benefit and that beta-carotene could be harmful because it increases the risk of lung cancer in people who are already at risk,” said USPSTF Vice President Michael Barry.
Beyond these limitations, the new recommendations echo what many scientists have been saying for years – there is no real evidence that these pills are good for us.
But at the same time – except in exceptional cases, supplements are contaminated with secret pharmaceutical ingredients – there is not much to say that they are harmful to us.
Geoffrey Linder, head of the general internal medicine department at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, said the task force did not say “don’t take multivitamins.”
“But if these were really good for you, we’d know now.”
According to Linder, co-author of a new editorial comment on the use of supplements and new USPSTF recommendations, there are good reasons for people to believe that supplements are beneficial to health.
“In theory, vitamins and minerals have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. They reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer,” co-authored by Northwestern University researchers Jenny Jia and Natalie Cameron.
“Eating fruits and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. It is safe to assume that people can get the essential vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables into tablets and get rid of the hassle and expense of maintaining a balanced diet.”
Unfortunately, not all of the evidence we have actually confirms this hypothesis, and it seems that micronutrients isolated from other natural dietary components do not benefit health for reasons we still do not fully understand. re-packaged and eaten.
Even worse, the dietary industry spends hundreds of millions of dollars every year to perpetuate misconceptions about the power of vitamin pills, taking advantage of these two misunderstandings.
It’s not just money, it’s risk. Researchers are also concerned that human health is at stake, as the more the patient is distracted, the greater the potential – evidence-based health care will be deprived of the endless formulas of snake oil.
“[Patients are] There has to be a set of magic pills to save money and meditate on, to keep them healthy, and we all need to follow a proven practice of healthy eating and exercise, ”Linder said.
“Harmfully, we talk about supplements with patients for a very limited period of time to see them, and we really miss consultations on how to reduce cardiovascular risks, such as by exercising or quitting smoking.”
New proposals have been published JAMAThe recommendations are accompanied by an overview of the study behind it, and an accompanying editorial.