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Could Vitamins Do More Harm Than Good?

Vitamins and our health. It’s big business. Could the pills do more harm than good?

Vitamins photographed Oct. 27, 2011. (Alex Kingsbury/WBUR)

Vitamins photographed Oct. 27, 2011. (Alex Kingsbury/WBUR)

Headlines on health should always be taken with a grain of salt. Between the research lab and the web post, a lot can get lost. Even so, the headlines on vitamins lately are head-turning. “Is This the End of Popping Vitamins?” “The case for dietary supplements is collapsing.” “Will Supplements Kill You?”

Millions of people take their morning vitamins and more and go on their way. New research is throwing up warning flags. So what’s up with all the vitamin A, B, C, D, E we’re gulping down?

This hour On Point: vitamin supplements and our health. Plus, the HPV vaccine, for boys.

-Tom Ashbrook


Sharon Begley, science columnist and science editor of Newsweek.

Marion Nestle, Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

Walter Willett, Fredrick John Stare Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition Chair, Department of Nutrition – Department of Nutrition, Harvard University’s School of Public Health.

C-Segment — Boys And The HPV Vaccine

William Schaffner, Chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

From Tom’s Reading List

Wall Street Journal “A succession of large-scale human studies, including two published earlier this month in leading medical journals, suggests that multivitamins and many other dietary supplements often don’t have health benefits—and in some cases may even cause harm.”

The New York Times “The dose being studied in the Select trial was 200 micrograms of selenium and 400 international units of vitamin E. By comparison, most multivitamins contain about 50 micrograms of selenium and 30 to 200 international units of vitamin E.”

NPR “We have a lot to learn about absorption (of nutrients). There are genetic and gender differences. For instance, African Americans need more vitamin D because of skin pigment. Older people need extra B12 because they don’t make enough stomach acid, which you need to liberate B12 from food. Iron is another example. The body doesn’t have a good way to get rid of iron except through blood loss, so postmenopausal women, and men, do not need to take an iron supplement.”

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  • Drew You Too

    “Vitamins and our health. It’s big business. Could the pills do more harm than good?”

    Seems like you answered your own question there. “It’s big business”, why even bother doing a show on it? Guess I won’t be listening to or participating in hour 2 either.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      You will be missed accordingly?

  • Sara

    Seems like it depends on if it is recommended by a professional, that professional’s knowledge of supplements and if they are being encouraged by any company promoting their product.  I am prescribed supplements by someone who seems to know what she is talking about but how do we tell who is knowledgeable and who isn’t?  Is it even possible?

  • CodexAlimentarius

    Big Pharma, Big Medicine, Big Government and the United Nations want to take away your supplements:

    First, the Codex Alimentarius Commission wants to establish a world guideline saying that no dietary supplement can be sold for preventive or therapeutic purposes. Actually, in the U.S. we already have a labeling constraint to this effect: The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 prohibits claims on supplement labels that relate to treatment or prevention of disease other than classic nutrient-deficiency diseases, like scurvy. That’s why our vitamin bottles don’t tell us much about what their contents are good for — they’re not allowed to.

    Second, the Codex Alimentarius Commission wants to limit over-the-counter sales of dietary supplements to those of low or R.D.A. dosage, the kind that prevent deficiency diseases but not chronic diseases like cancer. Dietary supplements of higher potency — the dosages that work to fortify the immune system and stave off aging and chronic disease-would become pharmaceuticals. You would have to get them from a pharmacist.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Someone wants to keep us from being healthy for their own profit??! Next, you’ll be saying that companies and corporations would violate safety rules, and common sense, for their own profit!!  Massacre Energy wouldn’t be guilty of that, would they?

  • Wm. James from Missouri

    I highly recommend , “ Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis A. Balch. It covers almost any supplement you would ever take. I have tried many tens of supplements in the last 5 years, and can testify that some are very good and provide real and meaningful results. I have asked a handful of medical practitioners about supplements in these 5 years, and have received mixed reports about the value of supplements. I am convinced that many that go through medical training are quite illiterate about supplements. Like so many things in life you have to use common sense and caution while keeping an open mind. Get involved with organizations such as “The Life Extension Foundation” or even Aubrey de Grey‘s, “Methuselah Foundation.”. There are many such people on the cutting edge. They are challenging the rigid views of the medical community.

  • nj

    “Could the pills do more harm than good?”

    Could biased show hype do more harm than good?

    Could poorly conceived, poorly controlled-for “studies” do more harm than good?

    Could ignoring the hundreds of studies that indicate benefits of a number of supplements do more harm than good?

    • Anonymous

      More (and there are millions more!) questions, nj:

      Are we suckers?

      Does the link between advertising, money, docs’ relationships to pharmaceutical industry suggest we’ll have a hard time separating truth from fiction in health issues?

      When we’re doing food shopping, which part of the supermarket do we spend the most time in?  And even if it’s the veggie-fruit section, are we aware that most of our veggies and fruit have less nutritional value than they used to? Even organic?

      Do we tend to follow fads in nutrition?  Acai? Vitamin E supplements?  Theories about broccoli? Edamame?

      Are we aware of the latest stats on Vitamin D and the elderly, even the elderly who live in sunny places?  Are we talking serious pollution alert or serious bullshit from docs or both?

      Do we spend more time and effort deciding which well-advertised nostrum to buy than we do in exercising, cooking healthy food, or avoiding activities that lead to snacking?

      Is NPR part of system that lures us away from independent decision-making and towards following trends?

      Are we suckers?

      • Brett

        I suppose many are…independent decision-making in conjunction with real knowledge (about nutrients as well as our own bodies) can help us make informed decisions and can steer us away from slick advertising. 

        • Anonymous

          The most informed person, I believe, is the one who listens/reads/watches selectively but who, most of all, pays attention to the effects of environment, food, and life-style choices on his/her own body.  We are individuals.  The supplement our best friend takes may not be good for us.

          But we have a tendency not only towards group-think but also to forget how to separate information from advertising.  Heck, there are industries out there just as prosperous as drug companies that are dedicated to making us confuse info from hard sell!  It’s as American as apple pie — apple pie (that is)  made with apples sprayed with daminozide and baked in a delicious crust whose lard comes from hogs fed pellets containing rapid-growth supplements.

      • nj

        Good points there (mostly; nothing wrong with “snacking” if done properly).

        Yes, in theory, most of our nutrients could/should come from eating a balanced diet of well-prepared, fresh, whole food grown on vital, living soil.

        Since that doesn’t often happen for most people, taking some supplements seems like a good idea. Cheap insurance.

        WIth proper precautions (avoid megadoses, avoid cheap Chinese products, etc.), i don’t see what the problem is.

        • Anonymous

          “Since that doesn’t often happen for most people, taking some supplements seems like a good idea. Cheap insurance.”

          Absolutely!  I do it too. But I get mad at myself for doing it.  And when I do, I think about the pleas from food banks for contributions and think things like, “If I just gave the additional $14 I just spent on supplements to the Capital Food Bank instead, wouldn’t it be doing more good?”

          NJ:  It isn’t often one sees this combination of words:  “cheap insurance”!

  • Michiganjf

    The typical American over-eats so damn much that vitamin deficiencies are unlikely to be a problem.

    If you’re concerned for some reason, take a multivitamin for your sex and age group that has ONLY the minimum RDA of A through E and leave it at that.

    • Soli

      Eating a high volume of food doesn’t automatically mean you’re going to get all the macro- and micro-nutrients you need. If you’re not eating foods which have them in a bio-available form, you still are going to have deficiencies.
      Rickets has apparently made a comeback, for example.

    • TFRX

      “Malnutrition”, before my lifetime, used to mean “not getting enough calories”. Now it means, literally from the French, for many Americans, “bad nutrition”.

      The modern interpretation of “food” has allowed many Americans to live in “food deserts”. I’m lucky, as I could drive by six megamarts, a health food store and two farm stands on my way to work.

  • Yar

    Looking for nirvana in a pill always does more harm than good. It is one thing to excrete expensive pee, and quite another to create a toxic body.  If you feel you must take a pill, be aware of fat soluble nutrients, my uncle turned his skin orange drinking carrot juice.  While that sounds amusing to much vitamin A is toxic.

    In the United States, toxic or excess levels of vitamin A are of more concern than deficiencies. The tolerable upper intake level for adults is 3,000 mcg RAE. It would be difficult to reach this level consuming food alone. But some multivitamin supplements contain high doses of vitamin A. If you take a multivitamin, check the label to be sure the majority of vitamin A provided is in the form of beta-carotene, which appears to be safe. Symptoms of vitamin A toxicity include dry, itchy skin, headache, nausea, and loss of appetite. Signs of severe overuse over a short period of time include dizziness, blurred vision and slowed growth. Vitamin A toxicity also can cause severe birth defects and may increase the risk for hip fractures.

    • Nutricj

      too much retinol is toxic, there is no known toxicity from natural beta carotene. Vitamin A covers a spectrum. this specifically outlines the limited information out there to the consumer. we cannot just say “too much vitamin A is toxic” 

      • Yar

        Toxic or not, unless you are speaker of the house, I would not think orange skin is considered a good thing.  
        Where did common sense go?  
        I had two eggs, fried apples with a little honey and homemade whole wheat toast for breakfast.  
        I expect many would criticize my choice. But it works for me, although I only eat eggs a couple of times a week.  Oatmeal and berries are preferred most other days.
        Why would I want to take a pill or drink carrot juice.  Balance is key.  You body will tell you what you need once you give it a chance to balance.  I do that by avoiding drugs including alcohol and caffeine, eating plenty of vegetables, small meat portions, and physical activity.

        • Nutricj

          actually your breakfast sounds yummy

          too your beta carotene/orange skin example- there are many examples in human health such as beet urea- which is red tinged or purple urine because of the highly colorful anthocyanins in beets and, your example, carrots. it’s not dangerous. but, high retinol is toxic and very dangerous. also, too alleviate the orange skin or red pee, you just lighten up the load when eating- no treatment or dnager. Toxicity must be treated depending on the severity. There is a big difference.

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

        Arctic explorers sometimes died of vitamin A poisoning from eating too much polar bear liver.

        • nj
          • Nutricj

            yes, and much is thought on the very high fat included in their regular intake protecting them from toxicity. the liver vit A being fat soluble is believed to be a key- and again=whole food eating versus some team going up and just overingesting bear liver on its own.

        • Nutricj

          alpha and beta carotene and  beta cryptoxanthin comes from plants, NOT animals.

          other vit A comes from animals- retinol, retinal, retinoic acid

  • Doug

    I did a diet review and found that although I believed I ate well, I only get around 50% (more or less) of the RDA of many vitamins and minerals. I don’t want to eat more, and it’s time-challenging to rotate through a large variety of foods.  Is there a short list of foods that satisfy the RDA in the same way a multivitamin does? 

    • GetWithIt

      With all of the chemicals and pollution you are ingesting everyday through your food, water and air… the RDA is a bunch of fictitious, hypothetical nonsense. 

      • nj

        I hope that someone on today’s program will address how, exactly, the RDA for various nutrients is established.

        I can’t find an online reference for this, but remember reading years ago that the original guidelines (dating from the early 1940s) were established roughly by surveying what apparently healthy manual laborers were eating, logging what they ate, then taking the nutrient content of that diet as the basis for the first RDA. There was little or no correction for factors such as age, weight, gender.

        How, exactly is the RDA determined now?

        • Nutricj

          the Manual of Dietary Intakes is published by the Institute of Medicine, National Academy Press. Contributions are complied from National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. They establish guidelines for Macronutrients (Fats, Proteins, Carbs) and Micronutrients (Vitamins, Minerals and Others). Very important to remember these are guidelines and suggestions for MINIMUMs for health and MAXIMUMs (toxic levels) and many are made based off obvious health issues and decades, if not centuies of medical observations- i.e. Scurvy develops if we don’t get our Vitamin C and we are one of very few animals that do not produce our own Vit C., so it is important to establish a baseline. The National Institutes of Health in America studies, University health and food sciences studies, etc. provide information to base recs on as well.

          • Nutricj

            also, I should add, most of the panels include board members are from Nutrition science research centers at Universities and Medical centers and Governmental Research centers across America and Canada. There is a panel for macronutrients, another for micro, another on fiber. There are subcommittees for establishing upper limits and liaisons between the USA and Canada. the books are pricy ;-)

    • Nutricj

      this highlights the strong need to focus on nutrient density, which those of us in “whole foods eating” nutrition promote, versus the calorie density the ADA promotes. if I ate 2000-2500 cals per day I would absolutely be obese. I take in about 1300-1500 cals per day- but I really focus on deep greens, colorful fruits and veggies and when I look at proteins- I look at those, such as in Greek yogurt where there is low sugar and double protein value. it is whole food eating with attention to bang (nutrients) for buck (calories). I still take a whole foods based, organic green multi daily vitamin to cover my bases because I would have to take in so much calorically to get enough, but am careful to avoid hyper fortified foods so not to risk hypervitamintosis (over ingestion of vitamins risking toxicity). examples: vitamin waters, commercial cereals like Total- which is really a multi vitamin processed product, and vitamin laden “energy” bars. 

  • ShameOnNPR

    Could NPR show their allegiance to big pharma, big medicine and big government any more than on this show?

    An enlightened diet and protocol of supplements has cured many thousands of cancer, HIV and another incalculable amount of diseased people deemed ‘incurable’ by allopathic medicine.

    Shame on NPR and it’s obvious corporate agenda.

    • Anonymous

      Alternately, thank you NPR for showing a pro-science and reason agenda.  And shame on you for promoting untested, unproven (and sometimes disproven), dubious “treatments” to people with serious and life threatening diseases.  There is nothing ethical in hawking snake oil to people in dire circumstances.

      Yes, the pharmaceutical industry has done some dishonest things, like hiding negative studies.  And that’s unconscionable and anti-science, too.  It’s not either/or, though.  All medicine needs to be held to the same high scientific standards of proof of efficacy and safety.  If you can’t meet that standard, you’re a snake oil salesman, pure and simple.

      • Ed053

        Have there been any studies done on snake oil?

        • herbalist

          Yes.  Oil is extracted from a certain type of Chinese sea snake that’s very high in Omega-3 fatty acids.  Very good for you!  Chinese R.R. workers used it.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      Really?  Perhaps you’d like to provide your sources for this outrageous claim?

    • Kathy

      What a load of bull

    • Anonymous

      Cures like the ones that helped Steve Jobs?

  • Brett

    The RDA requirements would be considered the minimum daily requirements to keep one from malnutrition. Most commercial multi-vitamins have such small amounts of the listed nutrients—-and the process to make the pills, plus sugar+dye pill coatings which serve to eradicate the small amount of vitamins there are actually in them—mean that one is essentially taking a placebo with little or no nutritive value. 

    If one takes supplements of vitamin C, then taking a pill made with ascorbic acid is useless, as ascorbic acid only retains its nutritive value if eaten in its natural form, e.g., an orange. Otherwise, get it by steeping tea made from rosehips (the heat in steeping does not affect the nutrient) and other such real food. It is water soluble, so there is no worry about taking too much; however, younger women should be careful not to over-due it, as they might find themselves having increased urinary-tract infections. 

    The B complex vitamins should be taken in balance with each other; and, although they are also water soluble, one doesn’t want to take too much niacin, B6, or B12. 

    Vitamins A and E are fat soluble, and excess amounts store themselves in fat cells rather than get passed off in one’s urine; this can create toxicity.

    If one is going to use supplements, there is a bit of an education that has to go on. Also, everyone should try very hard to resist claims and marketing techniques from vitamin companies. Those are mostly in the realm of corporate shenanigans. 

    • Brett

      “over-due”??? …Should be “overdo”! Sorry, Professor Camp… 

    • nj

      I suspect we’re going to see a lot of dubious “facts” asserted here today.

      Example: “If one takes supplements of vitamin C, then taking a pill made with ascorbic acid is useless, as ascorbic acid only retains its nutritive value if eaten in its natural form, e.g., an orange.”

      Citation needed. I believe this is false.

      • Brett

        You can believe that it’s false if you like, and you can spend a lot of money on ascorbic acid powder if you want. Or, you can eat a variety of fruits and vegetables that provide vitamin C in its natural form. It’s your choice. I get ascorbic acid in its natural form through foods and supplement with rosehips.

  • Margie Lincoln

    In response to the big pharma connection, let’s point out that the supplement,  herbal, and alternative manufacturers are also very big business, employing  a lot of slick advertising  Someone is making a lot of money promoting and selling these products, of dubious value. It’s all about $$$$ in this unregulated, untested industry.

    • Nutricj

      it is really important to purchase supplements that are from companies that have full transparency- so we know sourcing, exact dosage, complete and unhidden ingredients…and second and third party testing for quality control. these are usually smaller companies/producers that do not even really try to compete. for example- you won’t find them in the supermarket next to the gummies ion the candy isle.

  • Terry Tree Tree

    Name something that CANNOT be used for Good OR Evil!  Too many, or too continuous use of vitamins can, of course, be hazardous!  Many companies produce ‘vitamins’, that are NOT really usable to the human body.  I’ll bet some are actually dangerous.

  • Nutricj

    The industry of selling needless medicines to the consumer, promoted by the orthodox medical doctors is what we really should be freaking out about. The “flinstones” and “gummies” in the supermarket isle are what we should be terrified about our children ingesting. Prescription drug addiction is at epidemic levels in America, while all the pharma sales forces have their champagne retreats celebrating record high earnings. Hypervitamintosis, to be sure, is a big worry- mothers give their kids “flinstones” vitamins loaded with dyes, false sweeteners and tell the children to take extra for their health, then they give them fortified garbage cereals and think they are benefitting their kids by buying dye and chemical laden “energy” or “vitamin” waters instead of soda. And, this is added to the nutrient-less “foods” most children are fed at their school lunches. Most people take their prescriptions without knowing the majority of possible side effects. Most people eat having no idea what they are putting past their lips (fast food) so it is no surprise that we would randomly ingest vitamins without wisdom. 

  • leftofcenter

    First point regarding studies. For every one you show me, I can show you two that say you’re wrong. All three can be done by reputable people and peer reviewed. The, who’s right and who’s wrong?

    • Anonymous

      As with anything in science, you have to look at many studies and see what answer they are converging on.  Sadly, there are a lot of junk studies out there and it’s difficult for lay people to sort through them, especially when science reporting in the media in general is awful.

      Two good resource that covers a lot of these stories are http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/ and http://theness.com/neurologicablog/.

    • L.Fitzgerald Charles

      Because I doubt all the studies use the same form of the vitamin, mode of administration, and duration of administration. Not to mention that genetic background could play a role. Also how do they each ensure subject compliance and deal with noncompliant subjects? These are all things that will differ across studies and some things that may begin to account for discrepancies.

  • leftofcenter

    Second. Why aren’t holistic treatments given more attention and study?Answer? Corporate profit. The AMA and the pharma corporations see that as a threat to their profit and power. Yes, it’s in doctor’s financial interest for people to stay sick. If more people got well thru preventative care, how would these doctors pay their office bills and med school loans?

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      Preventative care is a good idea, but what do you mean by holistic?

    • Anonymous

      Any good traditional doctor will discuss preventative measures, diet, exercise, nutrition, etc.  As for “holistic”, alt. med. purveyors are the one’s guilty of making claims about the “cure for all cancer” and similar nonsense that are the epitome of a myopic, one size fits all approach.

  • BHA in Vermont

    There is a lot more marketing than science in supplement sales.
    Look at all the Vitamin waters and energy drinks. Must be good for you, right?

    Wrong, wasting a lot of money on fancy water you don’t need which may throw off the balance in your system by having too much of some vitamins or electrolytes.

    But, you know, people are cutting back on soda so they drink ‘water’. Who sells this water?  Here is one: VitaminWater

    Energy Brands, also doing business as Glacéau, is a privately owned subsidiary of Coca-Cola Company

    And guess what? There is as much sugar in this ‘water’ as there is in soda.

    The only weight you lose comes out of your wallet.

    • kilgore

      I don’t know if the “vitamin water” scam is on quite the same level as “vitamin C will now kill you”

  • BAS

    And calcium?  Any studies?

  • Anonymous

    I found that taking a very large dose multivitamin, irritated my urinary tract. It took a few years for me to relate my vitamin consumption to waking up every hour to Pee. The irritation was not evident to me for several years until it finally reached the level where my antifreeze- colored urine caused a burning sensation mid morning. DOH!

    I stopped taking the vitamins, my UT calmed down and I sleep much, much better now with all of the fringe health benefits of getting a good nights sleep!

    So hear’s and example of too much of a good thing.

  • Ellen Dibble

    People who are not very healthy are easy prey for marketers.  For that matter, doctors don’t live in close communities where they see exactly what people are eating and can have a pretty good idea what an individual might need to eat, or if that is not available, then ingest in pill form.  
        To me, a big disadvantage of multivitamins is that it leads us to ignore the signals from our own bodies, unique as they are.  Will your body tell you, this week, because of x, y, z environmental factors, or because of x, y, z viral and bacterial threats, maybe I should be pigging out on oranges?  Or failing that, vitamin C?  That sort of thing.
         Even a cow will go for a salt-lick, right?  Or a deer?  Humans should have some sense of what is “called for.”  Depriving us of that inner disposition by flooding ourselves may be a disservice if something like cancer is trying to take hold.

    • Anonymous

      Exactly, Ellen!  When I started noticing which food and in what amount made me feel good, my whole attitude, weight, and outlook changed. What did I discover?  Less food (much less, as it turns out) prepared deliciously does the trick.  Much higher energy level. I know people think there’s not enough time to do this but it’s amazing what you can find time for when it’s something that makes you feel great!  But it has to be what your body wants.  We already know a lot about nutrition, enough to know when we’re eating right.  I’m not at all sure supplements really do supplement or substitute for what the bod is crying out for.

  • BigPharmaBad

    Vitamins and supplements aren’t the problem, Big Pharma is the problem:

    Prescription Drugs are one of the leading causes of death in the United States

    “The overall incidence of hospitalizations related to adverse drug reactions was 6.7%, and the associated death rate, 0.32%.  This translates into 2.2 million serious drug reactions, and 106,000 deaths every year in America, at an estimated cost of as much as $4 billion per year.”


    (18 references sited below the article)

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      Are you suggesting that there are no diseases that are appropriately treated by a prescription drug?

      • Brett

        I know, try telling that to a diabetic or an asthmatic! All of the Andrew Weils of the world can’t cure asthma or Type-1 diabetes. No matter what they say or how much they demonize all of western medicine with the stroke of a broad brush.  

        • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

          Yup–I have both. . .

          • Brett

            Same here…

      • BigPharmaBad

        No I’m not suggesting that.  Your reasoning is illogical.

        Where do I ever say prescription drugs do not benefit some people?

        Why would you and Brett even jump to that conclusion?

        I’m providing proof Big Pharma kills with disregard to the numbers.

        I’m providing proof our medical establishment is the leading cause of death in our country and Big Pharma is inextricably linked to it:

        “The total number of iatrogenic deaths shown in the following table is 783,936. It is evident that the American medical system is the leading cause of death and injury in the United States.” 



  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Recall “Never Say Never Again”?  James Bond was sent to a spa to remove free radicals.  His solution?  Drink another martini.

    • TFRX

      Is “free radicals” wordplay, or was that nutritional idea something a movie audience would understand in 1983?

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

        I think that the term has been around for a while now.

        • TFRX


  • Yar

    The first solution is to not walk into the heath-food store.  Visit a farmers market or join a CSA instead.

    • Brett

      That’s advice to live by! ;-)

  • Zac

    What about Vitamin D? I live in New England and my understanding is that it’s impossible to get enough Vitamin D from the sun here.

  • Joe in Philly

    Brothers and sisters, isn’t it interesting that this multi-billion supplements industry is totally unregulated? The false claims and false advertising that is so pervasive is criminal. And, then you have these health “gurus” who are constantly flogging this mega-nonsense and who clearly have vested interests (it’s their products they’re flogging!). Let’s put an end to this charade; have the FDA regulate these snake-oil purveyors!

  • Chance G.

    Come on. The Vitamin E study involved the use of the wrong type of vitamin E!  Secondly, the more recent multi-vitamin study was anecdotal information – they did no actual determination of what vitamins where actually taken, or why the people died! Another bad study….

  • Anonymous

    What about taking supplements for diseases like macular degeneration?  About the only thing most doctors will suggest for that are vitamin supplements for vision (lots of Vitamin A).

  • Chance G

    Check out the “Life Extension” web site for the real information. They are an organization for 30+ years that introduced us to Omega 3, Co-Q10, etc. We don’t need more “experts” that are clueless.

  • BHA in Vermont

    There is a problem with getting vitamin C from a glass of orange juice: Citrus gives me migraines.

    • Nutricj

      there’s lots of Vit C in potatoes ;-)

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

        Ah, that’s good.  When I read the Aubrey/Maturin series, I think about scurvy.  Of course, I then put some lime juice in my rum, so there’s no problem. . .

      • nj

        But doesn’t cooking/heating oxidize the ascorbic acid to other compounds (deydroascorbic acid, then to diketogulonic acid) so that there is no viable nutrient in the cooked food?

        I never understood how cooked products can make claims for vitamin C content.

        • Brett

          Wait a minute nj, didn’t you say you thought that was false (to a reply where I made similar claims)? The process you mention  is also what happens when ascorbic acid is (heated) made into powder/pill form. It becomes something different than it is when naturally occurring in, say, oranges, and the “nutritional” value becomes negligible.   

          • nj

            How do you know that all vitamin C supplements are produced by heating?

        • Nutricj

          so sorry i missed this earlier! boiling foods (the second most common way of cooking potatoes- the first being french fries) is problematic for two big reason- nutrients get both destroyed and lost at higher temps and boiling water happens at 212 degrees F at sea level. steaming/lower heat and shorter exposure causes far less damage, actually helps release some vitamins/minerals, and retains much more. overcooking is the worst you can do to foods if you want to maximize veggie nutrient density. dehydroascorbate actually must reduce to be absorbed, to dehydroascorbic acid then rapidly recycles back to ascorbic acid. also, glutathione, which also naturally occurs in many vit C foods like broccoli, is believed to have protective actions,assists absorption and increases anti-ox (actually- oxidation/reductions) protection in the blood stream. it is not completely understood but it is more resistant to destruction when cooking. also, this is why whole food eating is a must- things like walnuts, onions, kale, eggs, garlic, cinnamon…they are loaded so when you eat your steamed broccoli with a salad with onions, garlic and Brazil nuts or walnuts- you are assisting the Vit C to do its job.

  • Nutricj

    we have been “sucked into it” as a community/society because the media, such as ms. begley misinforms. how many prescriptions were the panel subjects in the studies on? always look at who is paying for the study!!

    the ORAC is just another media fad- focussed term that they glommed onto so they have their catch phrase. it is more important in the lab.

    her statement on beta carotene was based on a study of hyper supplementation and chemically produced at that- there is NO study whatsoever to date saying that natural carotenoids raise risk of lung cancer. The real information is based on SMOKERS and chemical supplementation and she failed to mention that.

  • TJJ in Gloucester, MA

    Question: Did the studies take into consideration what “other” ingredients may be in the vitamins taken?

    Comment: Most people in-fact do not get the “right” amount of vitamins from food because we have a tendency in to over-cook food. So I think that unless you eat a lot of raw veggies and lean proteins you’re not getting what your body needs.

  • LisaM

    Have they differentiated between vitamins that are food based and vitamins that are synthetically produced?

  • David

    Haha, “Don’t Panic”, great song choice, Tom. Good advice

  • Chuck Wegrzyn

    Check out this article from The Life Extension Foundation…

    New Study Validates Life Extension®’s Early WarningSynthetic Alpha Tocopherol
    Shown to Increase Prostate Cancer RiskWe Predicted This Outcome!Longtime members of the Life Extension Foundation® have heard our warnings againstsynthetic alpha tocopherol many times.In 1997, we announced that taking only the alpha tocopherol form of vitamin E displaces critically important gamma tocopherol in the body.By displacing gamma tocopherol, we feared that high doses of alpha tocopherol couldincrease cancer risks.In fact, three years after Life Extension’s first warning, the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health released the results of a huge study (10,456 men). The findings showed that men with thehighest gamma tocopherol blood levels had a fivefold reduction in prostate cancer risk. This same study showed that selenium and alpha tocopherol also reduced prostate cancer risk butonly when gamma tocopherol levels were high.1Confirmatory studies document higher levels of gamma tocopherol to be strongly associated with reduced cancer risks.2,3,4,5

  • Ellen Dibble

    Tom asks what do we actually do vitamin-wise?  I don’t take anything regularly.  But I know what fixes what ailment on an ad-hoc basis.  Let’s see, an example.  I ate a bunch of on-sale organic, non-sweet chocolate, and because it actually was too sweet for me, I got plenty sick, and one thing I ran for was niacin, 100 mg, which for me, now and then can cure things.  If I have a muscle knot in my neck, it might disappear, apparently attacked by the niacin flush.  It only works one time.  After that, no flush, no cure.  But with the chocolate overdose, the niacin was truly remarkable.  If I was doing damage to my arteries, I am sure the niacin did “its thing.”

  • Nancy

    I’ve observed that supplements give people ‘carte blanch’ to eat poorly. I believe it is the poor diet that is the problem…no supplementation could possible make up for eating nutrient-poor fast foods!

    • Nutricj

      that is a very good point i try to make to everyone- the term supplementation should be viewed in its definitional term. it should not replace whole/complete foods.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Does anyone ever wonder how the human race survived before the first coming of Dr. Oz?

    • Anonymous

      There were quacks before Oz and there will be quacks after him, but rarely do they get access to such a large audience.  It’s criminal.

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

        Thank you, Oprah Winfrey.

    • Nutricj

      if i could hit “like” 100 times I would greg

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

        I have to wonder about the health effects of being continually shocked by the latest revelation from the experts.  All that cardiovascular distress can’t be good.

        • Anonymous

          I’ve stopped listening to them and started relying entirely on how I feel when I take supplements.

        • Nutricj

          yes, this is where i agreed with you another time when you mentioned “fads” i ignore them best as i can too. i did some thesis work based on about 100 years of information on autoimmunity and increases in rates and looked to location- longitude/longitude, race, age, etc. to decide what my feelings on Vit D are. when we get the magical acai berry or the like- that’s a fad. it is new and juice plus (that company the caller mentioned helped make it so), the berry is great actually- but it isn’t the second coming ;-) i look at age of work. rudolf steiner warned us about the decline on bees for example- like 100 years ago- he was right then- he is right today- yet the media, “we are all going to die today because we hurt the bees.” we should have been caring all along about Vit D and the bees- ignore the acai as your savior.

  • john

    What about the “synthetic” versus “natural” debate? Are there any studies which reveal real differences?

    • Chuck Wegrzyn

      Go to LEF.ORG to find out – they have a lot of research on the subject.

  • kate

    I am wondering how the depletion of top soil and less nutrients being available in our soil as well as the fact that our food (if we are not eating locally) is often shipped to us from great distances affects the vitamins available to us in our food today?

    • Nutricj

      research out University of california at Davis- they have done some really great work on the depletion in soil, depletion of nutrients in pesticide covered food, etc.

    • Chuck Wegrzyn

      There was a study done and it was found there was the possibility of less micronutrients.

  • Debra Maloney-Evans

    Please address the vitamin D controversy. Should breastfeeding women in northern climates supplement their newborns with vitamin D? Should healthcare professionals be testing vitamin D levels and supplementing with up to 25,000 iu daily?

  • Nutricj


  • Manduhai

    No report on studies concerning vitamin E should be without an explanation of exactly what form of vitamin E the participants took   Vitamin E in its natural form consists of four kinds of tocopherols and fout kinds of tocotrienols.  Many of the studies strip off alpha tocopherol and call it vitamin E.  What form was used in the study you reported on?

    • Chuck Wegrzyn

      Exactly! It is like saying female estrogen are all like horse pee….a big difference! And that difference can have fatal results.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I think people who take supplements are probably RICHER, not necessarily healthier.  On the other hand, if you are ill or ailing, in undiagnosed ways, doctors can tell you  to drink organic beets run through a juicer, but they can be more sure you’re doing that if they tell you to take a “good multivitamin.”  But sicker people are more likely to take multivitamins; what else can they do?  If doctors have no other suggestion.

  • Imagine10091940

    What about children multivitamins?  Have there been studies to demonstrate that they are more harm than good?

  • Lahagar

    How about getting “tested” to see what supplements your body actually needs and in what dosage? And invest in higher grade supplements that are actually absorbed by your body instead of the cheaper ingredients that just pass through your system unabsorbed.  Too much of anything is not good….too little is not good either.

    • Anonymous

      It’s hard to do the testing you are recommending because the levels of these vitamins fluxuates constantly.  You would have to have many tests over some period of time to get the gist of where you are at.  Also, what you eat before the tests will affect the results.

  • Anonymous

    Vitamins make me feel better NOW.

    It may not help me live longer, but I have more energy every day as a result of the supplements I take every day.  I can tell when I haven’t taken them.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      Then enjoy.  Your life will be better, even if it’s not that much longer.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Allow me to offer the best piece of health advice.  It comes from “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”:

    Don’t Panic

  • Ellen Dibble

    If you have an issue, you can search online, but the nurses on the hotline at the health insurer will tell you Don’t Go Online.  But there is actually a lot of useful experience and advice there.  The less professional, sometimes, the better.  No one’s professional head is on the anvil.
        I’m thinking of a weekend when all my joints were getting pink and swollen, and somewhere I read that DHEA could stop some types of rheumatism, and I took a fairly good size dose, I think 60 units, before bed.  In the morning I was well.  That was several months ago.  I have had no recurrence.   I happened to see my doctor soon after and I mentioned this, and he said, yes, he knew that what I did was reported to have that result; sort of good for you.

    • Chuck Wegrzyn

      Go to LEF.ORG – The Life Extensions Foundation. They are a bunch of scientists, top in their field that do unbiased research!

      • Chuck Wegrzyn

        And I setup the nurse center for Health Dialog and I wouldn’t say they are the last authorities on anything. Go to the place you can find reliable unbiased information.

  • Deb

    Shouldn’t a supplement be just that- a SUPPLEMENT?  Why aren’t they just 25% or 50% of RDI instead of 2000%?  Granted, the RDI values are low (the RDI for vitamin C is the bare minimum required to avoid scurvy), but I don’t understand why supplements have gone so overboard in their doses.

    • Chuck Wegrzyn

      Because there is no real understanding of the requirements of the body. The RDI are minimums ….

  • Chuck Wegrzyn

    Come on Tom…that woman is a shrill! I want to hear the scientist! He knows what he is talking about.

    • coral

      i liked it when she started claiming people in food studies are underreporting their intake of healthy food.

  • Vanessa

    We should also be discussing the fact that not all supplements are equal. After searching for proper care for many years, I finally found a doctor who understood that vitamins and minerals need to be presented to the body in combinations that the body knows how to use. Otherwise, they either do very little or they do not work properly with the rest of the body. My supplements have made a tremendous difference in my quality of life after years of chronic symptoms that could not be addressed properly any other way.

    • Brett

      good point; if one takes a calcium supplement, for example, and doesn’t also supplement with some magnesium (needed to metabolize the calcium) then… 

  • Nutricj

    I have read everyone of Marion Nestle’s books and read her blog frequently. I really applaud her work, but this is absolutely one area I respectfully disagree with her. Vit D deficiency is very much a huge problem, especially in cooler/northerly climates- we see this like crazy with autoimmune disease increases and many do NOT get enough from the sun- even in AZ! Dr. Willett bringing up folic acid for pregnancy is one great example of supplementation that is so needed- even she recs a prenatal vitamin to avoid spina bifeda. But, she is ADA and they support medical prescriptions, not supplements.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    A man goes to his doctor and asks, “If I take my vitamins and all the pills that you recommend, exercise as much as you suggest, and limit my enjoyment of the pleasures of life, will I live longer?”

    The doctor answers, “No, but your life will feel longer.”

    • Brett

      …buzz roll on the snare followed by a cymbal crash…but seriously though…I have a New Yorker cartoon on my refrigerator: two cave men are sitting by the fire, eating; one says to the other, “I don’t understand it, we drink organic water, eat organic food, get plenty of exercise…and yet none of us lives past 25 years old?!?!

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

        Yup, they needed some organic antibiotics.

        • Modavations


      • Ellen Dibble

        I watched a PBS show last night about a cave man — Secrets of the Dead — died within a stone’s throw of what’s now Switzerland in the Italian Alps 5300 years ago, that is 3300 BC.  He was about 40 years old, had Lyme disease (and the apparent symptom of swollen knee joint), and calcium deposits in the cardiac arteries (not cholesterol, but the same effect).  That was 250 generations ago, and he was lactose intolerant, like almost everyone before cattle were domesticated, but anyway they were looking at genes.  He had just eaten a big meal of meat and grains, and he had straw/vine shoes, a back pack, and a medicine pack of certain roots and herbs.  He died apparently when a friend shot him with a bow and arrow and then whacked him on the head, but did not take his precious neo-metal hatchet, which would have then marked the perpetrator as the murderer. I think Utzi (they call him) was suffering from someone wanting the little farm he was starting, and maybe his family as well.  I’m wondering how that went.  But “he was very well fed,” got great exercise, yet had the heart condition you’d expect to see in 21st century computer people.

        • Brett

          Heart disease? Interesting. I wonder if there are archeological digs/forensic analyses that have revealed similar information but have also made some genetic link based on family members being found at the same cite, etc.? 

          • Brett

            “site”…Jeesh, I must be tired today…

          • Ellen Dibble

            You can see this frozen man at the museum in Bolzano, near Trentino, I believe it is.  Not too many are mummified in such perfect condition, such that the DNA can be matched to the physique.  If the man didn’t drink milk after infancy, I don’t know how the calcium deposits came to be.  Maybe…  Anyway, so far no others for comparison from that era.

      • Modavations

        Brother B., if it weren’t for pennicillin(?) we’d be dead by 50

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp


    You drink heavy water?  Do you work in the nuclear industry?

  • Nutricj

    oh my gosh- now she says placebo effect??? NO WAY marion, no way! our fake food system in America makes us ill-

    and good supplements are out there!!!!!! you just have to read the labels and buy from good companies- not giganto corporate producers

  • Jjhogl

    Is there any evidence to support that multivitamins at some level–perhaps moderate–actually increase either day-to-day well-being or lifespan? 

  • Anonymous

    IT IS NOT HARD TO KNOW that vitamins are the cause of feeling better!

    That woman is full of IT!

    Not all of us have all day to chop vegetables.  I work 8 hours, commute another 4 hours and need to sleep at least 6…  What time do I have to eat the healthy diet she says everyone can do.  I’m sick of women like this who clearly have NOTHING BETTER TO DO than lecture everyone else.

  • Joe in Philly

    God bless, sister Marion! The good professor makes incredible sense. Any good scientist understands “confounding” of dependent variables. My sense is most of these health nuts have no credentials in sound statistical analysis and experimental design. And guess what, it works in their favor! Snake-oil comes in many forms … caveat emptor, brothers and sisters!

  • Sam Walworth

    Just cannot understand or fathom the logic behind all these colorful pills, as we can easily meet our daily dosage of the vitamins with the help of diets.

    I am no expert in diets yet, I have had no issues of vitamins (as per my PCP) except for the Vit D (because I live in New England area).

    Why cant everyone else also be the same? Its simple, its easy and its doable.. no magic indeed.

    • Anonymous

      Sam, it must be nice to be you.

      Do you prepare your meals or does someone else?

  • Nutricj

    Juice Plus is a pyramid sales scheme- they make gummies, they make lots of health claims for food REPLACEMENT. whole foods should not be replaced. any snake oil sales team saying to replace your meals is not to be trusted.

  • Mhansson

    I suggest reading “The China Study” by T. Colin Campbell.  It discusses nutrition and health, showing that a plant based diet based on whole foods improves health.  

  • Modavations

    I’ve never taken vitamins,.I go to the gym.In 75A.D.,the satirist Juvenal said” healthy body healthy mind”.He also came up with Bread and Circus.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Good point–where is the evidence that as a population, we’re deficient in nutrients?

    • Anonymous

      I know many people who are on prescription strength Vitamin D because they are deficient per their doctor.

      But I agree that generally speaking people have not been tested to find out if they are deficient.

  • Ellen Dibble

    To the caller whose friend uses Juice-Plus, enzymes are less when we are older — the guest says specifically B-12, but I think others as well — and if you keep forgetting to take your enzymes, you can keep on hand super-green, or super-red; there are lots of powders out there.  I sprinkle them on FiberOne, and everything is there.  I don’t therefore not eat my salad.  It should be noted that heat (cooking) reduces enzymes, so raw food makes you absorb more benefit.  But I, for example, don’t eat very much.  I think I can live on 1,000 calories, so there are times when powder is useful.  1,000 calories is A LOT of broccoli.

  • Anne

    Is the benefit or harm from vitamins affected by the method of intake – a digested pill vs vitamins sprayed directly into the bloodstream through the inner cheek?

  • Modavations

    The body breaks it all down to Amino Acids and doesn’t care about the source.Remember that guy Owsley.He invented LSD and the NYT did his obit,.a few months ago.He died at 70,had moved to Cairns and lived exclusively on meat.When I was a young lad,I loved his invention

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      Owsley?  Albert Hofmann synthesized LSD from a fungus.

    • Brett

      Actually to glucose…but it is what happens when “the body breaks it all down” and all of the beneficial/non-beneficial/detrimental things that can happen, depending on how it breaks down, that is the important component.

      P.S.-Owsley was a chemist in California who made much of the first-generation LSD used in early psychedelia. Unless you are over 60, you probably didn’t try any of his batches. And, as Mr. Camp points out, he didn’t invent LSD, Hofmann did. 

      • Modavations

        I did and I am

        • Brett

          Well, you mention Mr. Natural, as well as the Orange Sunshine/Barrel. Fair enough…

    • Kayaksolo

      all broken down to amino acids and chemicals.  Easily disproven.

      Drink fresh veggie juice even one quart of carrot juice with a little beet thrown in/day. See how you feel?  Agribusiness wants you to think that you do not take in enzymes whole but you do.

      Can your theory of “breaks it all down” explain mad cow disease.  A prion is just an oddly folded protein. Nothing wrong with the amino acid sequence. 

      The universe is more subtle than out ability to measure it whether we adopt the scientific model or depend on our on perceptions, but those who are unfocused will penetrate little.  Enjoy your journey.

      BTW Hoffman not Owlsley perhaps to read “LSD my problem child”

      • Modavations

        Orange owsley, lad.Remember the Mr.Naturals.Ah the old days

    • Modavations

      Come on kids.ZThe point was, he exclusively ate meat and lived to 70

  • Dora

    Food can supply our needs IF we choose healthy food! The US diet is poor. Studies should be done on people with grass-fed beef, raw dairy, organic vegetables/grains and getting outside and exercising. If people choose good food and better lifestyle practices they can get everything they need for health from food.

    • Anonymous

      You mean if we have the money so we can take the time to eat healthy.

      Poor people work too jobs and cannot afford either the time or the money for your lovely and wonderful pie in the sky recommendations.

    • Anonymous

      Until you get sick from all that raw dairy you just consumed.


      • majkinetor

        Dude, you really have to consider alternative sources of information, SBM is not the only one. My entire country eats raw dairy.

        • Anonymous

          SBM gives clear and concise information, and it specifically addresses the claims of the anti-science crowd, so it’s a handy resource.  It is not the only resource.

          The fact that your entire country eats raw dairy is irrelevant, unless you have good evidence that shows the incidence of dairy related illness is lower than places that pasteurize dairy.

          Mind you, I don’t particularly care if adults choose to eat raw dairy, just don’t pretend it has got some kind of magic vital life giving force that pasteurized dairy lacks.  And it’s pretty irresponsible to give it to young kids or people with compromised immune systems.

  • Chris

    Is there anything vegetarians should know about when it comes to getting vitamins?  Someone just mentioned fish oil, are there good vegetarian alternatives there?

    • Kayaksolo

      For my veggie friends you can get omega 3′s by flax oil of flax seed.  If you go oil get it refrigerated, keep it in the freezer.  A cool way to eat flax seed is to have steel cut oats in the morning, (easy to make by adding 4 parts water to one part oats the night before bringing it to a boil, stirring, and putting the top on overnight.  warm in the morning and then grind up a tablespoon of flax seeds in a cheap coffee grinder (blade do not use your regular coffee grinder for taste purposes.  Add this to your warm oats delicious!  BTW rolled oats are pre-cooked often a year before you buy them might not be a great idea (oxidation, yeasts, etc.)

      Using flax seed oil you will need to take in at least 100 calories worth of the oil to convert to the most active omega threes, and some folks with enzymatic deficiencies cannot do the conversion at all. 1 gram of fis oil a day is about 10 calories. Consider taking a clue from the native american traditions. Our fathers and mothers there did not waste life, they took what was needed and had respect.

      Better to kill 1000 cows than to strengthen the angels of hate by using your made-in-God’s-image mind to hate a human.  Take what you need to be strong in service.  Only you can sort that balance out for yourself.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I got a study of my body nutritional status a while back, and the only thing I was low on was molybdenum.  Anybody know anything about that?  I occasionally take a molybdenum supplement but haven’t noticed any differences.

    • Modavations

      I know where there’s a mountain of the stuff in northern Zimbabwe.They use it to harden steel.Me thinks were not on the same page,however

  • a doc in central mass

    It is hard to advise people who have had gastric bypasses on what vitamins to take.  They have multiple deficiencies and anemia, and we have only the laboratory values to try to figure out the proper doses.. Is there a better way?
    from a doc in central MA

  • Modavations

    It’s a racket.Eat good and work out.One week coffee is good,the next it’s bad.One week wine is good,the next it’s bad.One week mamograms are good,the next they’re bad.One week it’s get a Prostrate Exam,next week,forget it.Oh Please

    • Anonymous

      You’re confusing headlines with the actual science.  You get a preliminary study show that this or that thing might be true, and the media jumps all over it.  And, as with most studies, the perceived effect eventually doesn’t pan out.  But, sometimes they do, and they we get new recommendations based on improved knowledge.  Changing an opinion based on real evidence is a strength of science, not a problem.

      • Modavations

        Go to the gym.Physician heal thyself

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joan-Marie-Davidson/1031260734 Joan Marie Davidson

      I like this response and agree completely. AND it was once “don’t eat butter, but do eat margarine. NOW? ugghhhh margarine, bad bad bad.)I just try to avoid processed foods that have additives, chemical preservatives, etc.But I do love BACON!

      • Modavations

        I haven’t eaten sugar and salt for 40 years and it probably doesn’t mean athing

  • Rebecca

    I find Marion Nestle’s manner of speaking to be off-putting. I think she is way off the mark on vitamin D.  MOST Americans are deficient, and it is impossible for those of us who live in northern climates to get enough from the sun. (I get out to exercise every single day, and my level was deficient.) There was an excellent article on vitamin D in Scientific American a few years ago. I suggest people look up that article and educate themselves. Marion Nestle’s know-it-all manner makes me not like listening to her.  Obviously eating well and exercising is the best medicine, but there are some supplements that are necessary for some people.  Walter Willett sounds a lot more reasonable to me.

    • Nutricj

      His research is amazing. She was really rude to him. She has done some great work- Food Politics is worth the read for sure, but Willett is a true research epidemiologist with vast experience.

  • Elizabeth

    I have often read that supplement contamination is a problem in this industry.  People are often getting pharmaceutical drugs, steroids, stimulants and even toxic heavy metals, bacteria and lead with their supplements.

  • Health Nut

    While many supplements are filled with chemicals and who knows what….I feel there are good ones and bad ones.  Big Pharma can’t make money on supplements (Yet) “hence” this study and the “fallout”.  We can’t possibly eat enough food to get the nutrients our bodies need.  Our food contains chemicals as well.  So I will take my vitamins and I do feel better……

    • Anonymous

      Now this I agree with!

      And, I’m all for better transparancy in the supplement industry.

      • Nutricj

        second and third party testing is key. the earnest companies employ this and make every ingredient apparent

    • http://profiles.google.com/caleb.b.king X X

      Prove that your feeling better is a result of the vitamins you take and not of other causes.  You also probably eat a balanced diet and – this is key – drink enough WATER (even if it is slightly polluted) and – this is a long shot – get enough sleep.  Maybe you even laugh a lot.  Which of these activities is making you feel better? Better than what?  Have you measured a baseline feeling in absence of any of these activities whose standards are uniform and results reproducible?

      I’m a news junkie, obsessed with corporate corruption, war crimes, atrocities, labor suppression, child labor, the evil influences behind geopolitics and government malfeasance.  Reading articles in abundance about these issues makes me feel more connected, energized and “better” than otherwise I would feel.  I also go to the gym a lot more than I used to and became a vegetarian who eats almost only organic food (including more fruits and vegetables).  So which one is making me feel better?  Better than what?

      You see the enormous ridiculousness of people who maintain healthy lifestyles and who happen to take vitamins claiming that their supplements make them feel or perform “better” than they otherwise would feel or perform. The chances for placebo are infinite. The effects of placebo are real, measurable, physical and palpable. You can be cured of certain real (non-infectious) conditions (like rashes, headaches & lethargy) with placebos because your body is releasing those chemicals and maintaining those states which, though induced by your belief of an (mythical) unguent power, induce natural repair and restoration activity in a way impossible without the placebo stimulus. If a major study of an FDA-approved drug like Prozac showed that a placebo was equally as effective at improving mood (a subjective, non-emprical value), imagine how bogus are the unregulated vitamin claims, which (in absence of this first of its kind mammoth longitudinal study) have had very little testing for long-term efficacy!

      Don’t believe the spin.  Eat green things & whole grains, cut down on meat (which at this point is filled with hormones, antibiotics and contaminants), drink a lot of (preferably clean) water, sleep enough and regularly, get sun and fresh air, exercise a bit, spend enough positive time with friends or a loved one, try to find a job or activity that doesn’t reinforce a sense of purposelessness, powerlessness, exploitation or entrapment.  All of these things will lead to health…and are becoming increasingly unavailable to many, though more remains in our grasp than we are wont to acknowledge.

      Take the increasing number of homeless folk across this nation who are homeless due to causes completely unrelated to drug or alcohol usage, mental illness or any stalwart commitment to indolence.  The ranks of this group are rising.  When supplemented with some weekly meals at soup kitchens, $200/month of SNAP food stamps, though very small, need not be spent on soda, ice cream, chips, empty starches or ground red meat. Better – more informed – choices even with these severely limited resources can make the difference between chronic, irremediable sickness versus eventual recovery from transigence.

      The solution for the rising ranks of strained, poor and even homeless persons in the US is not more vitamins and drugs but major economic, political and social reforms that will provide all people access to the indispensable, completely natural, non-genetically modified ingredients of a healthy life.  The necessary reforms are completely feasible and sustainable – on a fiduciary and environmental level – but are mostly out of reach due to the perverted, corporately-managed political culture, constant and deeply penetrating disinformation campaigns and general ignorance characteristic of our body politic.

  • Yar

    Vaccines provide an individual benefit but more importantly provide societal benefit, because of the larger benefit to society all vaccines should be free to the individual.

  • Ellen Dibble

    The cost of the HPV vaccine is something like $400 not counting several doctor’s visits, I heard…

  • Ellen Dibble

    Are the physicians saying that oral sex has suddenly begun, and thus there is an explosion of head and neck cancer related to HPV among men?  I mean…  

    • Modavations

      Mon Dieu

  • Joe in Philly

    Tom, another great show! 

    Can you discuss negative side effects? Have their been any long-term studies regarding this vaccine? Thanks from the city of brotherly love!

    • Anonymous

      My understanding is that it hasn’t been out long enough to have the extensive study done that you are looking for.

      As with any new vaccine we’ll find out the long term effects in the long term…  in 20 years.

  • Adina

    Supplements are exactly that, supplementation to good food sources however, nutrition as Mr. Willett, most of what people eat is junk. This country is struggling with obesity and illness, diabetes is rampant. Even “health foods” are full of pesticides and hormones unhealthy for our consumption, the environment and junk food, a huge percentage of the American diet, are full of toxins, life styles are lacking. Supplementation can make a difference. The other important thing to know is that not all supplements are the same. Some are made with fillers and not pure, others are much higher quality.  What’s political about this is that supplementation which impacts people being healthier will put a financial dent in the pharmaceutical industry.

    • Ellen Dibble

      Adina, thanks for that post.  Using supplements to compensate for toxins in the environment and in the food, and in the body, is a different challenge than using supplements for nutrition, to satisfy the RDA.  And the show didn’t really get into that.  It’s another show, I suppose, that I hope OnPoint does at some point.  There are plenty of things being marketed as helpful for detoxifying, without being specific about which toxins.  And people’s bodies surely deal with toxins in varying ways, genetically and synergistically, and so there is even less possibility of purchasing something that is somebody else’s magic bullet but not yours.  
            Personally, I am a year into chelating a heavy overload of about a dozen heavy metals out of my system, and I have noticed that I have been extremely susceptible to secondary smoke from marijuana and cocaine, over the years.  Two floors down or down the street, I still am flattened by exposure, for about 9 hours.  So I’m thinking that people who have used/abused illegal drugs may have vitiated their body’s ways of dealing with toxins.   I know doctors around here will not treat for cocaine allergy or marijuana allergy, yet it would seem like a public health challenge waiting to be addressed.  People who have been drug users are perhaps permanently intoxicated in some ways.

  • Mbuguji

    Another American industry creation! People from other societies including countries with equal or higher socioeconomic indicators, do not understand why one would choose to cocktail pills instead of focusing on eating right.

  • Anonymous

    The HPV vaccine caused Michele Bachmann to make retarded statements.

    • Yar

      You are confusing cause and effect, Michele Bachmann was making questionable statements long before she started talking about HPV.

    • Modavations

      Even if my son grew a vagina I’d refuse

  • Tallmom

    Wondering what to make of this news article of the nurses study at Harvard (several years ago)….it recommended intakes of more than 400 micrograms of folate and more than 3 milligrams of B-6 to improve cardiac protection for women.  Study was out of Harvard School of Public Health.  Quote from Harvard’s Dr. Rimm “Everyone should be a two to three times the current RDA for folate and B-6 to achieve the maximum reduction in risk.”  I have been following this protocol as I have a family history of cardiac risk.  In fact, I have been taking a ‘Stress Formula’ vitamin for the past 15 years, which includes high levels of B-6 and B-12.  I feel great on this formula.  Unfortunately, I have recently been diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer (and I have never smoked or lived with a smoker).  So this new info on health risk due to high levels of certain vitamins interests and concerns me…

  • Miryam

    Dearest Tom,
     since when do you offer just one side of something? We need to discuss the negative effects of this vaccine and, who knows, the big pharma reasons to insist on this point and, last but not least, the fact that so many other forms of cervical cancer can occur and we have been talked into this for our daughters. Please invite Dr. Gabriel Cousens, MD, who can talk in-depth about vaccinations in general.   Thank you for great shows! 

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      Vaccines prevent disease.  Perhaps you like polio, smallpox, whooping cough, et al.?

      • http://profiles.google.com/caleb.b.king X X

        I am a supporter of the HPV-vaccine being administered to males.
        However, I take issue with your unintelligent and unnuanced criticism of anyone who has objections to or voices skepticism of the safety or efficacy of any particular vaccine.  Your blanket, across-the-board assertions are as naive and misinformed as those of your opponents.

        A recent case: in Finland in 2011 it was found that a certain Influenza vaccine administered across Europe between the mid-1980s and present has extremely high statistical correlation with increased rates of Narcolepsy, leading to valid suspicions about causation links.  I was diagnosed with a very classic case of Narcolepsy in early adolescence, so this peaked my interest.
        It turns out that the suspect agent in the culprit vaccine was a catalyst additive that – in a rare reversal of the norm – though legal in EU countries is actually prohibited by the FDA, which kept American children largely shielded from exposure to the dangerous though very widely administered drug.

        Similarly, in the US, there have been several convincing studies to confirm the health-risks of mercury preservatives added to many vaccines.  That is why it was more than slightly suspicious when the lobbyist-owned U.S. Congress in 2005 granted full legal immunity the producers of ANY vaccine, drug or biological product used in either preventing, containing or eliminating a (strategically undefined) “pandemic” or national public health emergency from any potential lawsuit stemming from harm such a medicine might cause a patient. The infamous PREP Act was denounced for this reason by many consumer advocacy groups and progressive politicians, including the late Sen. Edward Kennedy as well as Public Citizen and A-CHAMP.  The threat of this nasty piece of Corporate Welfare was most recently invoked during the dubious 2009 H1N1/H5N1 (aka “Swine Flu”) “pandemic” which turned out to cause no more deaths during the flu season (from the end of Aug 2009 – the start of April 2010) than the regular seasonal flu pandemic (CDC records 2,117 total confirmed Influenza-derived deaths).  In January 2010, Dr. Wolfgang Wodarg, chair of Council of Europe’s health committee, claimed that the WHO’s “false pandemic” flu campaign constituted “one of the greatest medicine scandals of the century.”  He provided evidence validating the suspicion that key pharmaceutical lobbyists had intentionally mis-represented regular Flu infection rates, starting in Mexico City, to the WHO, who began the warning.  CDC studies clearly demonstrate that there was in fact no pandemic in the US, but that reported rates of Influenza infection and Influenza-related deaths were in keeping with the normal annual rates for these metrics.

        THUS, while vaccines as a GENERAL class of substances have and do prevent viral infections – this is undisputed among ALL parties, including any of the serious critics – CERTAIN vaccines – usually due to additives and preservatives added to the active agent by the manufacturer – have been shown in peer-reviewed, scientific publications to have caused harm in certain individuals and pose demonstrable health risks, esp. for certain subgroups.

        There are too many cases in too many realms of public life for too many years of malfeasance, coverup and nefarious corporate influence for us not to take a second glance at every public policy claim, regulation or deregulation that is put before the body politic to see who has lobbied for it & who stands to benefit financially from its execution.  As a start, I suggest you read the – in this case, rather well-written – Wikipedia article on “Agent Orange.”  A powerful, chilling story of decades of deception, total destruction and ongoing denial.

        If you don’t think massive, intentional, centrally engineered and planned frauds can be carried out on the public to the great harm and fatality of millions, you are clearly ignorant of the history of the Vietnam/Laos/Cambodia wars as well as the 2nd Iraq War.  As a start to the first topic, I suggest reading about “the Gulf of Tonkin Incident” and the “justifications for the war” sections of the Pentagon Papers.  As for the second, look up the following: Habbush Letter; Agent Curveball; Yellowcake Uranium controversy/Valerie Plame Incident; National Energy Policy Development Group (NEPDG) aka Energy Task Force Meetings with Cheney and ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Royal Dutch Shell & Enron; Downing ST Memo; 18 September 2004 Iraq Document Leaks; Oct 2002 Tony Blair and Baronness Symonds meetings with Shell/BP/BG.

        Between 2 and 5 Million Vietnamese people were senselessly massacred in Vietnam alone during the unjustified and illegal US wars with Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.  Robert MacNamara later repudiated the war as a “mistake.”

        The 2nd Iraq War has resulted in over 1 million Iraqi deaths (see the Lancet Survey and the Opinion Research Business Survey). This illegal war has indisputably been shown to have been the result of a pre-planned, intentional conspiracy of the Bush and Blair administrations – using forged documents and fabricated false evidence – on behalf of large energy conglomerates (as well as defense contractors) to privatize and gain drilling right access to Iraq’s oil fields.

        So if you don’t think massive frauds with dire consequences
        can and have been carried out on an – at best – mildly skeptical public, think
        again.  Yes, vaccines prevent dangerous viral infections, but that does not
        mean we should not be wary of the claims assuring the safety and efficacy of particular
        vaccines, nor be vigilant in holding our civic authorities accountable to perform due diligence and subject providers to
        heavy scrutiny (say, by permitting individual and class action lawsuits against
        all companies that produce drugs which have been shown to have – beyond a reasonable doubt – caused
        illness or death).

    • Brett

      Presumably, Dr. Cousens espouses a narrative with which you agree, no?

  • Kayaksolo

    Dont think there is politics against supplements. The most reliable way to take B12 easily is in a nasal gel.  The makers of Nascobal (dosed metered nasal b-12) got the previous generic nasal b 12 illegal in the use, though a normal person would have to have taked $100 worth of the nasal b 12 to have any risk. Take $100 of aspirin and you will die too.  Think the company behind nascobal made no donations to get that regulation passed?  think the pharmaceutical companies who have patented the combination of co-enzyme q with statings to combat the effect that statins have on muscle tissue doesn’t effect politics.  Think that your foood supply has not been bred for size and weight for a long time.  Think  that is still natural?  Think agrabusiness does not affect politics? Think more!

  • Mookie-Hoctor

    UGH!  I take 8 prescribed medications a day for an injury sufferred six years ago.  The LAST thing I want to do is shove another pill into my body.   

    • Nutricj

      drink green drinks 

      • Modavations

        I had a pal who used to drink carrot juice.He turned orange.

        • Anonymous


  • Brett

    The trouble with supplements (synthetic pill and powder-types, etc.) has to do with titration and quality control. One pill in the bottle might have 2,000mg. of the desired nutrient, the next might have none or very little. Some companies are much better at maintaining those standards than others. 

    • Dr. Aaron Root

      yes, good point…there is a critical distinction between the typical commercial, over-the-counter products that have unregulated contents (FDA only regulates label content and claims) versus products coming from regulated, quality controlled labs, that provide products that are most current with research (and there’s plenty of that, too) I have to bite my lip when I read many of these posts – so many reactive comments from un-informed and mis-informed folks who don’t know how to interpret research findings, and probably get their education from news tabloids. There are clinical, therapeutic uses of specific vitamin formulations that are distinctly different from this ‘dietary supplement’ context I see in this discussion, and it’s unfortunate that because of a few bad studies, irresponsible reporting, and biased ‘experts’, credibility for all vitamin use is lost.  There’s a whole world of well educated, well-trained, ethically guided practitioners and researchers involved in nutritional biochemistry and functional medicine, and yes, many of them are chiropractors, acupuncturists, MD’s, ND’s etc… 

  • http://profiles.google.com/caleb.b.king X X

    Regarding the HPV vaccine for boys:

    Noticeably absent from Dr. Schaffner’s review of the CDC’s reasons for offering the vaccine to males was any discussion of the health concerns of men who have sex with men (MSM). MSM is a broader term than Gay or Bisexual to denote all males who engage in sexual activity with members of the same gender – many of which self-identify as “straight” or “heterosexual.”

    Dr. Schaffner briefly and hesitantly included anal cancer in his grocery list of HPV-causing cancers, but it has been found that HIV-NEGATIVE MSM are 20 times more likely to be diagnosed with anal cancer than males in the general population (includes both non-MSM and MSM combined).  The rates for HIV-positive MSM are substantially higher than that.  This is a serious issue for MSM individuals as risks of transmission are only slightly diminished with the use of condoms – this explains the pronouncedly higher rates of Anal cancer among MSM who do NOT have HIV (as condom use is highly prevalent among sexually active men who are HIV negative). Ergo, even if MSM are engaging in anal sex responsibly by using condoms, they are still at risk for HPV-related anal cancers…not to mention throat and neck cancers associated with oral-genital contact among both genders, regardless of sexual preference.

    We must realize that CDC guidelines on vaccination STRONGLY influence insurance companies’ coverage policies.  The great majority of insurers do not cover the cost of the HPV Vaccine for males – and may now only cover it for children.  This means that even MSM who are AWARE of the risks of HPV-related anal, throat and neck cancers are often not able to afford the very expensive HPV vaccine (~$400 USD per dose).  Furthermore, sexually active MSM (or men in general) who may carry benign forms out of the 100+ strains of HPV may still be protected from the cancer-causing strains by being inoculated.

    For this reason, it is also important the HPV virus strain TESTING be made affordable by promoting cheap generic versions of the test.  This will allow health professionals to determine whether it would still be useful for an adult, sexually active male of any given sexual preference to receive the HPV vaccine. As in all of these public health debates, decreasing – not increasing – patent & licensing lengths and protections would be in the public interest: though not in the interest of the large pharmaceutical cartels that write our health policy. Copyrights, trademarks and patents are artificial, state-imposed and police-enforced intrusions into free exchange: so let no hypocritical corporate mercenary protest while, after lobbing for monstrosities such as ACTA and the filers-first system initiated in Sept. 2011, at the same time crying for more and more “deregulation.”  If we care about maximal cost savings and maximal coverage, anyone knows that economic monopsony via a universal state-run health insurance scheme would and has in every case proven to be the best choice. As Harvard School of Public Health scholar, Marcia Angell, so forcefully demonstrates, innovation in biomedicine and drug research is almost wholely a state-run enterprise as it is. In our system there’s a catch, however: state-run costs for R&D (Pharma spends, on average, less than 1/2 on R&D what it puts forward in Marketing), private pocketing of the returns on this public investment.

    Health care economics aside, it is important the MSM health concerns (and those of all LGBT people) be addressed in public health policy decisions. Missionary position between a lawfully wedded man and wife, though long advertised as a monopoly, has – for millennia – been one of many competitors in the sexual marketplace.

    • Modavations

      Even if my son grew a vagina,I wouldn’t administer that junk

      • Anonymous

        Is there a vaccine to prevent that?

  • BigPharmaBad

    HPV Vaccine for girls or boys is the biggest Big Pharma/Big Government criminal scam recently invented. 

    It’s based on bad science, bad technology and an evil agenda. 

    • http://profiles.google.com/caleb.b.king X X

      That’s a very big claim: about as big as the claim that such vaccines will prevent disease.
      Prove it.  Since, as you say, the public health establishment and media have been thoroughly brianwashed to the contrary, the burden of proof rests on YOU and your sources to convince them/us to the contrary.

      Cite the sources for your opinion after summarizing their arguments.
      Otherwise your assertions are ABSOLUTELY USELESS TO YOUR CAUSE.

      What if your assertion is true?  You only DAMAGE IT by not providing citations and clear references to the findings which demonstrate the validity of your claims.  Therefore, stop damaging the message you espouse and start PROVING IT.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Edward-Boughton/1379995701 Edward Boughton

    I only take multi-vitamins leading up to running a
    Marathon.  I worry that, I read Vitamin C
    is only produced in China and I never trust what they put in there.  Jack Elaine, use to live here in Ojai.  He was asked if he took vitamins.  He said yes, in fresh Fruits and Vegetables every morning.  I think that says it all. 

    • Modavations

      Jack Lalane.Throw $5.00 in the “kitty”,please

  • bj kuhnel

    my son and ten-old grandson  don’t eat one fruit or vegetable in a week
    between them.  I eat lots of fruits and vegetables and take supplements, too, and i am much healthier than either one of them.  They should be taking supplements, I might be able to get by without them. I think the conclusions drawn by your guests who are so against vitamins are very simplistic and don’t take into account the vast differences in the way people eat and assimilate vitamins from their food.

  • Jennifer

    This is very interesting, but I would like to know more about the studies being referred here. Can you give me the names of the 2 published studies in medical journals referenced above?

  • BigPharmaBad

    As of September 15, 2011, there have been a total 71 VAERS reports of death among those who have received Gardasil®. There were 57 reports among females, 3 were among males, and 11 were reports of unknown gender.


    First, there are more than 100 different types of HPV and at least 15 of them are oncogenic. The current vaccines target only 2 oncogenic strains: HPV-16 and HPV-18. Second, the relationship between infection at a young age and development of cancer 20 to 40 years later is not known. HPV is the most prevalent sexually transmitted infection, with an estimated 79% infection rate over a lifetime. The virus does not appear to be very harmful because almost all HPV infections are cleared by the immune system.


    In other words, we have seriously increased the amount of chronic illness and deaths in young women without a guarantee that cervical cancer will be reduced…   Parents are very angry that our trust in the medical profession has been betrayed by the governments who have not put the public interest first. Governments have allowed the pharmaceutical companies to fund Professional Medical Associations in order to influence the promotion of this vaccine to the public.


  • BigPharmaBad

    Here’s what Big Pharma likes to call ‘anecdotal evidence’:


  • BigPharmaBad

    Here’s what Big Pharma likes to call ‘anecdotal information’:


    • Anonymous

      Your anti-science hysteria is a danger to all of us and your position is no better than the global warming or evolution deniers.


      • BigPharmaBad

        EricReed –

        That is quite the ad hominem argument you have there.Maybe you didn’t read through all of the information.How are any of the sources provided ‘anti-science’?  My position may not be irrefutable, but it is backed up by science and evidence.Comparing my position to ‘global warming or evolution deniers’ is weak critical reasoning on your part.

        • Anonymous

          Discouraging people to vaccinate their kids puts the child’s health and life at risk, and undermines herd immunity.  So it is not an ad hom that your position puts everyone in danger, it is factual.

          Your site is not scientific, it’s propaganda.  There is a massive amount of evidence demonstrating the safety and efficacy of vaccines.  The studies purporting that vaccines cause autism or other such things have been thoroughly debunked.  And yes, there are rare (very!) severe side effects, but the thing with medicine that actually, you know, does something, is that it always carries some risk.  The number of lives saved from vaccines is astronomically higher than the very few cases of harm that have resulted.

          • GetAClue

            What, the CDC or JAMA is not scientific enough for you?

            Tell that to the families of the dead or debilitated children, or to the tens of thousands of young people and their parents all around the world, who have had there lives ruined by a ‘life-saving’ vaccine injection.

            When it happens to a child in your family, or to someone’s kid you know, it is not ‘rare (very!)’, indeed.

            They were happy, healthy, perfectly normal child until…


          • Nutricj

            great point getaclue!!

            yes, and eric, lest we forgot, many thousands of people die of accidental death in the care of doctors because of mistaken drugs given and reactions to the drugs/vaccines and this is not even considering those estmated millions that are prescription drug addicted. and we really get these vaccines without enough knowledge about the preservatives in them. but, we read headlines, “can your supplements kill you?” now we need to be terrified of vitamin C?

          • Dr. Aaron Root

            Plenty of good science available to support anti-vaccine campaigns –  I was a vaccine-injured child, and in spite of that, am not necessarily against vaccines; just the way their made compulsory, and administered irresponsibly, en masse – not all kiddos should have them, as there are known risk factors that preclude their use, but it’s too inconvenient to screen for that on such a large scale.  The acceptable risk is all too accepted,…we can do better.  

      • majkinetor

        Wow, SBM sux. Gorski doesn’t know basic physiology.

  • Awake

    I have been an advocate of your morning show for many years. Always appreciating “both” sides of the story.
    This morning on my wet drive down 95, I caught the last ten minutes of the early show about Gmo’s, and later found the 2nd show talking about the “Death by Vitamins”.
    Sorry to inform you that the “both” sides of the talking point never came close to reality today! The industry puppets for both conversations are at best, talking heads for their industry.
    The alleged vitamin scam has already been totally discredited by many sources. The FDA and CDC are in the habit of being on the payroll of the Big- Pharma industry. Revolving doors so to speak. Money always wins all conversations.
    In lieu of the two “tainted” On Point shows today, I’ll probably be switching alliances in the short term future.
    I’m proud to say- “I wasn’t born yesterday!”.
    Wish me luck with Hannity and Rush and god forbid, Coulter.

    • Modavations

      While your average NPRer loathes Big Pharma,I thank you guys for the Wonder Drugs.Go rebel against BIG COLLEGE,

  • GMG

    It seems to me the body is like the planet — we don’t have enough knowledge to tamper with its chemical system without unintended consequences.  The fact that a supplement helps with one problem says nothing about what other problems the supplement might cause. It makes sense to have a bias toward avoiding pills in general.

  • SL414

    Please, please, please have Dr. Jeffrey Bland address this topic on the air! You will not be disappointed.

    • Dr. Aaron Root

      yeah, great choice! there are many better qualified experts than those who were on the show…that program was not representative of what’s current in research, products, or clinical applications.

  • Debbie

    I’ve studied the connection between health and nutrition for 40 years. Agreed – real food – is the way to go. We’ve known that since trying to give sailors Vitamin C for rickets – didn’t work until they started eating limes. CHALLENGE even eating a perfect diet won’t do it. Our food does NOT have the needed minerals. Plants ONLY get minerals from the soil and the soil has lost over 85% of the minerals since the USDA began tracking it in 1919. According to the USDA you’d have to eat 26 apples to get the nutrients one used to have. For example, one apple used to provide 50% of the RDA of iron – in 1992 an apple gave 1/50th – imagine! As the mineral content in the soil has gone down – disease rate have risen. The professional journal “Today’s Dietitian” Oct 2009 has an article regarding vitamins and the horrendous toxins, mis-labling etc on vitamins – especially multi-vitamins – 1 in 3 bad news. There are solutions but the are few and far between. Thank goodness I found one about 15 years ago. Wish I could post what it is. 

    • Lvinston

      Why not post it?

  • barent

    if you had any sense,which you don’t,you’d be asking this question of pharmaceuticals.  *this asinine construct of a question, has been brought to you, by the big drug company underwritters, of NPR pseudo-journalism.  shame on you all!!* 

    • Lvinston

      My sentiments also. Thank you!

  • Debbie

    Years ago I thought Vitamin pills were a waste of money. After 40 years of studying this it’s clear they are much worse than a waste of money – they do lots of harm.  I expect to one day see a class action suit toward companies that claim to give you health and do the opposite. 

  • George V.

    @font-face {
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    }p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: Palatino; }table.MsoNormalTable { font-size: 10pt; font-family: “Times New Roman”; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; }I have a question about the manufacture of vitamins.  I read not too long ago that 80 to 90% of vitamins sold in the U.S. are manufactured in China, and not exactly under the most meticulous conditions.  So, I wonder if the vitamins sold here are safely produced and if they actually contain what they purport to contain.  Who oversees this production?  I’d appreciate any additional information on this.  Thanks.

  • Lvinston

    I heard the program today and wondered why did u not interview soemone more knowledgeable like Dr Mercola. The lady you interviewed was obviously biased and paid by the FDA. That was not hard to figure out. Of course you have to exercise caution, and 400 IUs of vitamin e are enough to give someone a heart attack. Education is the key here. I trust doctors 50/50.

    • Steve Bergman

      Mercola is not “knowledgeable”. He’s just an effective and well known vitamin salesman. (And  I’m sure he makes a *very* handy profit from it.) Walter Willett is one of, if not *the* best qualified person on the planet to speak on this topic. (Look up his bio.) If you’re getting your (dis)information from Mercola, you are doing yourself a disservice.

  • Eddie

    Funny how some people still talk about getting vitamins from juice as if that is healthy. Juice or highly concentrated flavored sugar is still not good for you.

    Maybe next headline cycle.

    • Lvinston

      Not only that it is also full of chemicals unless you get organic. Our food is being poisoned and the speaker encourages us to get nutrients from the food we eat? What a farce!

  • Jedd Sullivan

    Tom Ashbrook would do well to learn the difference between science and glibness.  Glibness, while superficially charming and entertaining, is not helpful in a scientific debate or exploration.  Perhaps if Tom is ignorant about a subject, he might consider educating himself before talking, or at least hearing out those who are educated on the subject, rather than interrupting them with “clever” remarks.  
    I suppose this show reflects the larger American society’s ignorance about science and scientific method, the same sort of ignorance that sees nothing odd about putting creationism on an intellectual par with evolutionary theory.  
    I would have appreciated hearing talks by Willet and Schaffner without the pseudo-journalistic patter and sensationalizing from Tom.  
    Nestle would do well to read up on the scientific method, to practice less sophistry and rhetoric, and to place truth seeking above appearing “right” or knowledgable.  

    • Nutricj

      the ADA keeps a tight grip on profs at major universities like NYU so that the RD stronghold keeps its ever watchful and powerful control. nestle used to do ground breaking work and now seems to just spout the party lines. funding funding funding.

  • Thoraj

    It’s really hard to believe that the claims put forward by the Vitamin Supplement industry are honest and not driven by GREED.  Thing is that doctors are also promoting regular use of supplements by their patients.  So where do we go for safe and effective advice?  No one has mentioned the huge cost to consumers who believe they need these supplements which by the way are NOT regulated by the FDA.

  • Bradycrow

    vitamin c fights cancer and is almost impossible to overdose with. and if that doesn’t work there is always dr burzynski… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0ibsoqjPac

    • Possibilianp

      I saw the full video last night on Netflix.  It was truly mind blowing how corrupt our system has become.

  • Dr. Aaron Root

    Great discussion, Tom, and I really enjoy your show!  It is concerning that the reporting on this topic is typically outdated, oversimplified, and represents a clear agenda bias against vitamin therapeutics to the pharmaceutical companies’ benefit (eventually). The critical distinction that they’re not communicating is that the reported studies (for example, the recent vitamin E findings) are based on synthetic products, or the commercially available over-the-counter formulations that tend to be substandard in quality and have little to no regulation or practice/manufacturing standards.  The vitamin E studies are a good example of the deceptive reporting – they are using vitamin E in a format that does not exist biologically or physiologically, and that has a completely different action on a human system than the “correct” format.  The use of vitamins as therapy involves a very complex application by qualified experts, and this is very different than the casual use of vitamins by consumers accessing OTC products from Walgreens or Costco.  There is an explosion of very credible and valid research studies related to the therapeutic use of vitamin formulations, and the current reporting does not accurately reflect the current body of research for clinical application.  The critical distinction between OTC vitamins and those from quality controlled labs must be emphasized, particularly within the context of this political debate that conveniently quotes the invalid studies using inappropriate forms of vitamin formulations.  Another example is the format that folic acid is reported on…”folic acid” is synthetic…”folate” is not – these are critically different in clinical applications.  Also, the active form for therapeutic use of folate is “5-MTHF”…this is another completely different application of the vitamin – one with profound benefits.  Another important distinctions regarding quality and validity of research and therapeutic use of formulated nutrients is that of iron.  It is frequently mishandled, and the issue of anemias is a very complex one, and one that tends to be trivialized in clinical practice.  Again, there is a distinction between the casual use of vitamins by consumers and the clinical application of them, and a distinction between products that are commercially available and those that are quality controlled, beyond label claims and disclosures.
    Pharmacy is insidiously grabbing control of the therapeutic use of vitamins, and is positioning itself for control of that market by invalidating the OTC access by disseminating bad studies and quoting them as good science.  I’d like to see media report on current, well-researched applications of vitamin formulations, versus those that are deceptively propagated.  I’m disappointed in the lapses in appropriate fact-checking prior to reporting on this subject.  This deception is very damaging to the reputation and credibility of the quality based companies and those practitioners who recommend them, since consumers tend to believe headline stories that are reported, without having the background data to critically evaluate the reported claims. Thank you,Aaron Root, DC, DACNB, Dipl.Ac, FACFNDiplomate, American Chiropractic Neurology BoardDiplomate, International Academy of Medial Acupuncture’Fellow, American College of Functional NeurologySan Antonio, TX

    • Chuckles

      So a Chiropractic Acupuncture “Doctor” is the expert with the answers to dispute the very good findings here by saying the vitamins aren’t the right kind.

      I suppose if anyone is going to know good science when he sees it, it would be a Chiropractic Acupunturist.

      As if.

      • Theresa

        Wow. I had to respond to chuckles by politely asking him or her to respond to the merit of the argument rather than the person or his or her profession. Good science does not belong only to people with titles but to those who practice the methodology of proof and  evidence. Insults does not belong here.

        • Anonymous

          No, the fact that the writer is an acupuncturist doesn’t necessarily invalidate his claims, but, given that both chiropractic and acupuncture as treatments are based on fantasies, that both make unfounded claims about their efficacy, and that proponents for them have a long history of distorting science in their favor, we are justified is being skeptical and looking very closely at other claims they make.  It’s ironic that he claims “Pharmacy is…disseminating bad studies and quoting them as good science” since that is exactly what supporters of chiropractic and acupuncture do all the time.  (It’s fun when “real” acupuncture is shown repeatedly to be no more effective than sham acupuncture, ie, placebo, and they claim that as a success!)

          To Nutricj, arguing that treatments were used for thousands of years or that they are/were used by many people has NO bearing on their validity.  (Argument from antiquity and argument from popularity – neither proves anything.)  No one is arguing that our current medical system is perfect or that an impersonal, conveyor-belt approach best serves patients.  We are arguing that ALL medicine have good scientific evidence supporting its efficacy, that alternative medicine and western/allopathic whatever you want to call it medicine is a false dichotomy.  There should be just medicine and either it has been scientifically proven to work (note that we don’t necessarily have to know how it works, though we should be skeptical of claimed mechanisms that violate the laws of physics, ahem, homeopathy) or it has not.  On the one side is then medicine, whatever the source or tradition, and on the other side is snake oil.
          How we deliver health care is a separate issue, though no less important.

          There is no reason to suppose that alternative medicine is any less beholden to moneyed interests that Big Pharma, alt med is ALSO big business – Americans spend somewhat more than $34 billion a year on alt med.  (And labeling things “Big Pharma” or attacking “corporate” or “establishment” medicine is, by the way, just as much an ad hominem attack as what you accuse us of.)

          • Nutricj

            i respectfully disagree with your para II written to me. the medical establishment also rests its defense on experience, knowledge, studies and more over years and then evaluates results. the simplist example come to mind is aspirin. the willow tree. look up its history, then realize that corportate manufacturing went on its laurels and in fact made claims on safety based on history, come to find out later, hmmm there might be some troubles with ingestion based on solid science. cocaine is another fabulous and interesting example to explore. we have to examine history to know ourselves today, and that is also true of medicine. the philisophical term validity here doesn’t quite fit. and on delivery of healthcare- no, they are not at all separate. we medicate many in the masses that are in no need of medicinal support. really, the saddest outcome of this in my view is it really lifts the focus away from those that truly need the care. your snide “ahem” before homeopathy explains that you have no education on the topic or its merits so i will relent on the rest. 

            to your para III, agreed, money is enticing on both sides- but we established a lot throughout this dialogue yesterday explaining exactly how to discern between the reputable and the “snake oil sales.” by establishement, i am specifically pointing finger at the USDA, the FDA, the lobbyists fighting against clean food and winning, and the worst of the bunch The American Dietetic Association. i neither care to hide or mince words- to be absolutely clear: i am “attacking” as you say, them all. “regulation” decrying right now is hilarious. i will enlighten you to one example: CoQ10. NOW, after so much time of the MDs fighting against antioxidant therapies for chemo patients, citing the abuse of supplement industry and worse- NOW they make their own prescription grade and SUPPORT the addition, as long as it is from an exceptionally expensive pharma drug. there are countless examples- just hit your bing- or better, the medical library.

            but, i will say that i also detest false claims on health imparting qualities of products as some supplement pushers do (juice plus) but hey, look at your average cereal box. look at your carton of milk. read your soup label purchased at a supermarket. they are permitted to quote the ADA over and over about things just as detrimnetal to our health as a bad supplement- in fact cereals like Total are just a multi-vitamin on corn, rice or bran. are you fine with that? i am not.

          • Anonymous

            Aside from reading extensively on the subject, I have personal experience with alternative medicine, so your claim that I am uneducated on the subject is ridiculous.  I was a massage therapist for years, I have worked with chiropractors and in chiropractic offices, and I have personally received pretty much the entire gamut of alt. med. modalities.  I left the field because the more I learned, the more I realized I couldn’t ethically continue to work in a system that was so insensible to science and reason and so dishonest (albeit unwittingly most the time) to its clients.  Peddling false hope to people who are suffering is WRONG.

            Nothing that is wrong with mainstream health care has any bearing on whether alt. medicine works.  And your example of aspirin isn’t a criticism of science based medicine.  As the science got better, as we learned more, accepted practice changed!  That’s good!  How many negative studies or debunking of crazy claims like “water has memory” will it take for homeopathy to change, hmm?  One of the hallmarks of pseudoscience is that no matter what the evidence, the proponents will march ahead unswerving in the righteousness of their belief.  The attacks and arguments made by the alt med community against science is exactly of a kind to those made by the global warming skeptics, because they are both ideologically driven pseudoscience, uninterested in reality.

          • Nutricj

            Very interesting, albiet confusing read. At least we agree that science based evidence is important. We may also agree that (as I too know the industry well from years of experience and have seen first hand) there are many dishonest, undereducated hacks, but that is true in both AMA practices as well as alternative medical practices. I am not sure really what it is you are trying to say? I support evidence based medicine. Maybe you should read more of my posts below to know exactly what I rec. Aspirin was an example of historical context leading to establishment mistakes. Safety was touted before it was understood by corporate entities and doctors alike. Experience, time, human health cases, research, both by establishment and alternatives all culminated in a greater understanding. Why do you believe that alternative medical professionals don’t believe in science? I am expressing my dismay with corporate control of human health. Donnie Yance is a great example of someone that has crossed the lines, he employs whole mind body spirit, natural remedies AND mixes with limited prescriptions and has had some wonderful results with his cancer patients adding to their longevity and quality of life. Also, some of the best professionals I know and respect are both MDs and NDs or have gone the distance to get a real nutrition education. I am left to guess you are an RD.

          • Anonymous

            I say many alt med folk don’t believe in science because they continually promote unscientific, unproven ideas as though they were true.  Chiropractic subluxations don’t exist.  We know from the sham acupuncture results I mentioned above that meridian lines or even penetrating the skin is irrelevant to whatever effect it has, which we also know is no better than placebo.  If homeopathy worked, we would have to rewrite the laws of physics.  It’s not only based on the magical idea of like cures like, but even if its active ingredients had a therapeutic effect, diluting them to 200C as in Oscillococcinum means there is literally nothing left. A dilution of 1 molecule in the entire universe would about 40C.  So if water or sugar pills can’t cure you, neither can Oscillococcinum.  Naturopathy, in regards to herbal supplements and nutritional advice, at least has a plausible method of action, but why exactly should we trust an essentially unregulated industry, or think that herbal supplements of questionable purity and strength would be particularly effective?  “Natural” has nothing to do with safety or efficacy.  Naturopathy is essentially like telling people to chew on willow bark rather than take aspirin.  Which maybe works some, but you can’t control for dose and you can’t control for purity.

            And it doesn’t follow that just because there is corporate control of health care that all standard treatments are suspect or that there is a conspiracy to keep people sick.  Obviously, studies paid for by the industry are suspect (as they are for alt med as well), but that means we go through them with a fine toothed comb and ideally confirm them with disinterested 3rd parties – which does happen.  We need more transparency and we need better science in all areas of medicine (or life really).And I’m not an RD.  I’m out of the health care game now and work for an environmental activism group.

          • Nutricj

            sincerely i ask: what do you say to women that have experienced preganancy after years of trying many treatments that have had success with accupuncture? what do you say to the men and women with lower back injuries/issues that report alleviated pain with accupuncture/accupressure? surely you helped some people with massage? i am not a chiropractor, but i do (after 25 plus years of profound study, research, scientific exploration and a few degrees and thesis explorations) believe in alternative medicine. i thank you for answering me because i am looking for all opinions in my research. i also agree that natural does not equate to safe or edible- you know the joke right? “horse sh** is natural, but please don’t eat it raw.” that was on a sign at one of the organic farms i used to get my veggies from. the real trouble i have with the blanket statements about regulation is that is comes down to this: policing. the FDA cannot- by their own admission, handle even 5% of the load it actually should. yes, in a perfect world- we should try to make sure safety standards exist with ingestable substances- but that should go across the board. the ADA cannot in one breath say that aspartame is healthy yet we should eat lower sugar diets. i’d take that natural- meaning grown from the earth sugar anyday. i am old enough to remember the giant ADA campaign for margarine over butter. give me the churned butter. but on the regulation- the point is that we as consumers have to try to protect ourselves where the gov cannot. it just does not have the resources. this is the point exactly where our opinions meet however, right at transparency. but we as the consumer must look for that. we cannot expect a corporation to do that for us.

            i don’t think there is or need be a conspiracy as has been argued by many. how i would describe it- is as anything else where money and power collide. when we make an entire sytem of for profit healthcare the consumer suffers. does not matter in the slightest if that is othodox medical or alt. med. but, make no mistake, there are corporations that both produce things that make us ill and contribute to the pharma lobbyist goals- they DO in fact profit from us being ill. and many of the people i know, respect and deeply love work their tails off for global human rights. one such friend is fighting malaria in Africa every day. she’s an MD, trained by her own description as “establishment protocol.” and she is a great hero of mine. adding in privately funded natural therapies has helped many of her patients over the years.

            but, you win, hands down on the point that i too do not see as valid a perspective that ignores scientific evidence. EBM is very important.

          • Anonymous

            I say that epidemiological studies and anecdotes cannot establish causation.  At best we can say that we don’t know whether acupuncture had an effect on a woman’s pregnancy, in the case you describe, or what effect is might have been.  The good studies that have been done don’t show a significant effect beyond placebo.  As for pain, that is a very subjective experience and highly amenable to placebos.  Again, you can’t get around that sham acupuncture works (doesn’t work if you will) as well as real acupuncture, and the largest effects seen are in regards to pain.  Even if you think that means there is a real effect, you’d have to accept that all the claims of how it works are wrong, which also means that going to school for acupuncture is kind of a scam – you don’t have to know anything about meridians or chi or whatnot to achieve the same outcomes.  And you don’t have to pierce the skin, which carries a small but significant risk.  Risk + no proven benefit = unethical.

            As for massage, we know that relaxation and stress-reduction can play an role in overall health.  So in that sense, you can say it works.  But again, much of the supposed theory behind it is wrong.

            I agree that for-profit health care is a travesty.  I don’t care about organic, though.  I do care about sustainable and humane.  I prefer to buy inorganic and local than organic and shipped halfway around the world.  If the farm is environmentally friendly, and treats their animals well, I don’t care if its strictly organic.

            The margarine thing is another example of the success of science.  New knowledge, ie, the risks of trans-fats, equals change in recommendations.  Nutrition is incredibly complex and incredibly difficult to study.  There’s so many components, all capable of interacting in surprising ways, that’s it’s nearly impossible to make strong claims about the benefits or risks of this or that food.  To quote Dr. Harriet Hall’s take on Michael Pollin’s advice, “Eat a variety of foods. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

          • Dr. Aaron Root

            there’s plenty of supporting research on acupuncture and chiropractic – one has to search well beyond the spoonfed news stories to find them, but it’s out there, and research is fervently in progress every day.  I know, I’ve been at it for 19 years, and i think that qualifies me as an expert in the field.  I can also tell you that I, nor my closest colleagues, didn’t embark on chiropractic college and later postgrad education so that we could scam the public. why would we do that? my student loan payment is as much as my mortgage payment, then there’s annual licensing fees, continuing education (travel,tuition), liability insurance, payroll, and general business expenses, etc… seriously, there are much easier ways to make money.  and, unfortunately, healthcare is a business, much of it is entrepreneurial, and we have to keep our doors open, too, so we can serve..just the reality of it. I agree with your position on healthcare and its for-profit nature, though. Another point regarding acupuncture and chiro validation in research… the problem is in using ancient terminology to continue to describe or explain these healing arts/sciences in current times – that’s where credibility is lost.  it doesn’t mean that these healing arts are bogus…it just means that the way they’ve been explained or justified is outdated or errant.  For example, I don’t tell patients about subluxations, because, that’s based on the limitations of language and science of the 1890′s – we have much more eloquent ways of explaining and describing how these things work, and can therefore design more relevant research and practice to get the most out of these practices, and can do a better job with that knowledge.  I give my patients a neurological explanation for it, whether they understand it yet or not, and i find that most really do ‘get it’ in that context.  but some of these posts on this forum that broad-brush opinions about ‘alternative medicine’ as being bogus are just ridiculous – fine if they’re informed and educated opinions, but most are just blabbing.

          • Dr. Aaron Root

            that’s too bad you had such a negative experience in the ‘alternative health care’ environment.  that hasn’t been my experience…I do take issue with your ‘peddling false hope’ comment, though.  Totally inappropriate generalization – your previous employers/colleagues must have been poor representatives for the profession, and every profession has its rotten representatives.  there is really exciting stuff going on in this field, and it does not involve ‘peddling’, so…I don’t see how you’re so ‘educated’ on the topic.  

          • Dr. Aaron Root

            I’m all for better regulation and quality control and standardization of vitamins, botanicals, etc… and there are labs that are FDA licensed and do these.  These are different than the companies whose products are commonly available on store shelves…unfortunately, these substandard products are what is reported on, as well as the casual, poorly guided use of them.
            So, i feel that better regulation and standardization should be done, but that they should still be available without an Rx.  Btw, there’s a whole lot more to therapeutic use of vits beyond what ‘experts’ on this forum are talking about; B12, Fish Oil, vit E are already old news, and what’s reported on is already 5 -15 years behind the research curve.

        • Dr. Aaron Root

          really?…pharmacy has a proven track record of being deceptive and greedy…they’re constantly being slapped on the wrist, sued,  or fined for verifiable deceptive research claims, omitting data on adverse reactions, and accelerating product and device FDA approval using nefarious tactics.  and those are just the ones we KNOW about…  so, that doesn’t mean that every pharmacy product is bad, or every manufacturer or lab is bad, either.

          chiropractic and acupuncture are far from being fantasy-based.  I don;t know who’s “science” you’re referring to, but you’ve been misinformed.  which studies are you referring to that distort the science ?  yes, there are lots of them out there, but they aren’t necessarily valid or objectively unbiased.  I’m a skeptic, too, even within my own field.  I also don’t “believe” in acupuncture or chiropractic.  they are not religions.  the daily clinical reality of their effectiveness is what keeps me involved with them, not my ‘belief’ in them.  and, verifiably so.  

        • Dr. Aaron Root

          Thank you, Theresa!  It’s a little disappointing that one has to weed through considerably ridiculous posts to find just a few authentic discussions that are on-topic.  I think it’s interesting that those who generalize and label alternative types of therapies as ‘unscientific’ tend to be violating the same scientific methodology that they purport to be using, by not using it in their opinions or assessments on these topics.  For example, our dear friend Chuckles probably didn’t even look up my credentials, before typing his response.  There’s tons  of good science out there, but it doesn’t always make headline news – it must be searched and dug for to find, and to apply.

      • Nutricj

        blows me away that we still have this level of ignorance. he likely has more education and training than a board certified MD. do you know that an MD trained in this nation on average gets approx. .5-4 total hours of edu on nutrition science? one or two courses on epidemiological studies? and let us not even discuss the lack of edu on actually listening/counseling- ya know…human beings in a 10-15 minute interview?

        we lost our human connection in medicine that was at the base of treating people for hundreds/thousands of years in many cultures. now that we have “modernized” and “industrialized” we have bought into the notion over the last century that humans are to be herded through a system, we are numbers to the government, insurance companies and to many medical doctors. why is it so difficult for us to see through the fog that the “establishment” is not the best avenue for healthcare? we must nurture ourselves first and utilize treatment when it is needed from caring, well-educated experts. media and the establishment have convinced you and others quite successfully that anything outside orthodox modern, corporate medical practice is suspicious at best. they push their pills, their radiation, and their giant bills and call you INSANE should you stray to historically sound treatments or dare to question your MD on a regimen or challenge a claim. we should rever anyone that spends their life’s work as a healer.

        and by-the-by, the pre-med edu is practically identical for MDs, chiropractors, nutritionists, etc. it’s chem, biochem, pathophysiology, anatomy and physiology, etc. get educated!!

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_U3D4Q2KL5FSDFH5FPLGI4TEVTM Josef

          I remember looking at a  fatal Stroke data some time ago, when you look at the stats by profession, medical Doctors are #1…

  • Allan Rydberg

    At least this time the government did not seem to do too much harm.    They only wasted a lot of peoples money.     In the Aspartame fiasco they did much worse.    see:  


    • Steve Bergman

      Your link doesn’t work. But I imagine it’s a bunch of disinformation about artificial sweeteners. For the actual facts, people should see this, instead:


      • AspartameAndFDA

        Prior to the approval of aspartame, the FDA sent two specialized teams to G.D. Searle, and found an ghastly 90% level of mis-directed testing, concealed tests, collusion between corporate and their company-funded research, inappropriate antemortum issues, withholding of material facts, alteration of records, lying to investigators, lost records, no records, falsification of reports, bribery, poor test methodology or design….et al.

        Arthur M. Evangelista, Dir. of Operations, former FDA investigator, April 26, 2002

      • AspartameAndFDA

        The results of a remarkable study conducted by Dr Ralph G Walton, professor of clinical psychology at Northeastern Ohio Universities, are revealed. Commissioned by the hard-hitting US national news programme 60 Minutes, it sheds some light on the absurdity of aspartame-safety studies.

        Walton reviewed 165 separate studies published in the preceding 20 years in peer-reviewed medical journals. Seventy-four of the studies were industry-funded, all of which attested to aspartame’s safety. Of the other 91 non-industry funded studies, 84 identified adverse health effects.

        December 1996


      • AspartameSweetPoison

        Detailed scientific and general documentation regarding the toxicity of nutrasweet, Equal, diet coke, diet pepsi, and other aspartame containing items. Web page includes real life reports of acute and chronic toxicity due to long-term ingestion:


        • Steve Bergman

          Your link is to a collection of other links to Internet forum gossip. Hardly ‘documentation’. Come back when you have something credible. Until then, I’m not going to waste anymore time on you conspiracy theorists.

          • AspartameSweetPoison

            Steve Bergman –

            Tried to find some more ‘conspiracy theories’ for you, but unfortunately it doesn’t seem like the industry wants to fund any current independent studies on aspartame.
            Document this:

            The results of this mega-experiment indicate that APM (aspartame) is a multipotential carcinogenic agent, even at a daily dose of 20 mg/kg body weight, much less than the current acceptable daily intake. On the basis of these results, a reevaluation of the present guidelines on the use and consumption of APM is urgent and cannot be delayed.


            The concentration of reduced glutathione (GSH) and the activity of
            glutathione peroxidase (GPx), and glutathione reductase (GR) were
            significantly reduced in the liver of rats that had received aspartame
            (1000 mg/kg b.wt.). Glutathione was significantly decreased in both the
            experimental groups. Histopathological examination revealed leukocyte
            infiltration in aspartame-treated rats (1000 mg/kg b.wt.).

            It can be
            concluded from these observations that long term consumption of
            aspartame leads to hepatocellular injury and alterations in liver
            antioxidant status mainly through glutathione dependent system.


            Long-term consumption of artificial sweeteners (AS) has been the recent focus of safety concerns… We compared the influence of AS (aspartame, acesulfame K, and saccharin) and fructose in terms of functional and structural correlations of apolipoprotein (apo) A-I and high-density lipoproteins (HDL), which have atheroprotective effects. Each sweetener alone or sweetener-treated apoA-I caused accelerated senescence in human dermal fibroblasts. These results suggest that long-term consumption of AS might accelerate atherosclerosis and senescence via impairment of function and structure of apoA-I and HDL.


            In July last year, EU-funded research by Danish scientists, which looked at almost 60,000 mothers-to-be, found a correlation between the amount of diet drink consumed and an early birth.


          • Arkadin

            hey Burgman…How many cool, crisp 100 dollar bills are they pumping up your rectum to say this load of bullocks?

            Continue taking your pharma “meds” you clown!

  • Steve Bergman

    Honestly, the only panelist worth listening to was Walter Willett.

    Sharon Begley, the journalist, was simply being alarmist and even deceptive about the latest study. (Imagine that. A journalist indulging in sensationalism.)Marion Nestle was more “anti supplement industry” than “pro science”. The first words out of her mouth were about how she finds the whole thing “hilarious” because the supplement industry is now “reaping what it sowed”. And she kept right on pushing that agenda. (And her credentials are unclear. She’s a nutrition professor at a school of culture and education and human development? What?) Willett stuck to the science and always took a view of the individual issues that a scientist should about these kinds of things, forming his opinions on the basis of the facts. Even when the facts lead to a conclusion that we currently just don’t know about this or that.
    Let’s be clear. The nutritional supplement industry’s business rests upon a foundation of deception and disinformation,  It *badly* needs to be regulated. They’re slime. But misrepresenting the science to push one’s own journalistic or personal agenda is wrong, too. It’s simply “counter-deception”. And a disservice to science.Once the propaganda is filtered, what’s left is that people should eat a balanced diet. Should probably take a good multivitamin with a reasonable and conservative formulation. (Nothing fancy, “Super”, or “Ultra”. A One-a-day, Centrum, etc. or generic equivalent.) One might well consider adding a 400 or 800 IU D supplement to that. Either eat fish a couple of times a week, or take a fish oil supplement to get a little omega-3 fatty acid. And continue taking precautions against getting too much UV radiation from the sun.

    -Steve Bergman

    • CriminalSlime

      ‘The nutritional supplement industry’s business rests upon a foundation of deception and disinformation…They’re slime.’

      Oh, really…

      Remember when the medical establishment promoted and pushed ‘hormone replacement and estrogen therapy’ on pre- and post- menopausal women during the 70′s and 80′s?

      Remember how the breast, cervical, uterine cancer rates climbed in the following decades for a generation of women?

      They’re not pushing that ‘therapy’ anymore.

      Now I’d call that institutionalized criminal slime.

      • Steve Bergman

        The topics at hand is the ongoing willful deception of the public by the supplement industry. And, of course, the need for regulating it. Also, the results of the recent studies, and what they actually do or do not tell us. And, of course, the matter of which supplements are reasonable to consider in light of the evidence we have. (It’s a short list: a standard multivitamin, D3, and fish oil).  Your comment has nothing to do with any of these things, and comes off as very defensive.

        • BigPharmaBad

          How about the deception by the medical establishment, chemical industry and Big Pharma with regards to the revolving door at the FDA?

          Here’s your ‘science based medicine’:

          An analysis of peer reviewed medical literature using MEDLINE and other databases was conducted by Ralph G. Walton, MD, Chairman, The Center for Behavioral Medicine, Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine. Dr. Walton analyzed 164 studies which were felt to have relevance to human safety questions. Of those studies, 74 studies had aspartame industry-related sponsorship and 90 were funded without any industry money.

          Of the 90 non-industry-sponsored studies, 83 (92%) identified one or more problems with aspartame. Of the 7 studies which did not find a problems, 6 of those studies were conducted by the FDA. Given that a number of FDA officials went to work for the aspartame industry immediately following approval (including the former FDA Commissioner), many consider these studies to be equivalent to industry-sponsored research.


        • Nutricj

          “multivitamin” demonstrates the severity of the ignorance the media has imposed on you…that is not EBM- and that term could literally include countless substances. it is meaningless without context and kengthy description of source, ingredients, dosage, etc.

    • WJ

      I completely agree with your statement that the only panelist worth anything was Walter Willett, who gave a thoughtful, considered summary of the scientific evidence (as well as the quality of the evidence available).

      The other two were talking, histrionically, about a different topic, which consisted of an indictment of the nutritional supplement industry. Not to defend this industry, but this wasn’t the stated subject of the show. By allowing these two panelists to repeatedly shout down Dr. Willett, the viewers lost out on an opportunity to learn as much as possible on the important subject of whether to supplement and, if so, with what and how much. It was disappointing as it distracted from the dissemination of important and useful information.

    • Dr. Aaron Root

      really ?  Centrum?  now THERE’s an example of deception and misinformation – it’s synthetic garbage that has been marketed as the standard for the multivitamin.  it’s all marketing, not quality.  looks like you’re getting your education on TV.  do you know, what to look for in fish oil supplement ? vit D ?  (since you’re an expert on the subject)

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_U3D4Q2KL5FSDFH5FPLGI4TEVTM Josef

        Check The Guide for Nutritional Supplements by Lyle Macwilliam and compare formulas, many of the so called nutritional studies use this kind of commercial junk to evaluate te effects of vitamins, no wonder people feel deceived by Big Pharma….

  • TooManyQuestions

    HPV vaccine? 

    Aren’t HPVs a common virus and don’t 4 out 5 people normally encounter it sometime during their life?

    Aren’t there over a 100 HPV viruses found in/on humans and our immune systems almost always wipe them out naturally?

    Besides, doesn’t this $360 unproven series of inoculations only work on  two strains out of the 100 or more HPVs? 


    Doesn’t current research prove these two HPV strains ‘might’ only be possibly be linked or related – and they’re not entirely sure because it has yet to been proven – to be the cause of cervical cancer?

    Didn’t the doctors use to say, ‘viruses don’t cause cancer’?

    Isn’t there a risk this triple-shot vaccine might kill or maim my child?


    Why would I risk my kid’s health and well being when most people’s immune systems will naturally wipe out HPVs on their own?

    I think I would do an awful lot of research before risking my child’s health.

  • Arakiba

    Vitamins are bad for us…so scurvy and pellagra must be good!

    • Nutricj

      rickets and autoimmune diseases too!!!

      • Steve Bergman

        You guys seem so threatened by data that fails to support your faith in supplements. In fact, the fanatics in this thread read just like the religious fanatics of other forums. You have your irrational beliefs. And you feel very threatened when the data fails to support them. Which is… almost always.

        FWIW, ‘vitamins are bad for you’ is media spin. Mostly, they just don’t do any good, other than as placebos. I think it is interesting that you chose ‘rickets’. Vitamin D is one of a very short list of supplements which appear to have real data supporting their use. The other two being standard (not ‘mega’) multivitamins and fish oil.

        • SupplementThis

          Steve Bergman – Supplement this:

          In the past decade, beta-carotene has gained tremendous stature in the nutritional world. This carotenoid, which gives many fruits and vegetables their yellow pigmentation, has always played an important role in health because it becomes vitamin A in the body.

          But in recent years, researchers have discovered that beta-carotene not only functions as a precursor to vitamin A but also works on its own to maintain health. Unlike vitamin A, which as limited antioxidant properties, beta-carotene is among the most powerful of antioxidant nutrients. As such, it can help to guard against the development of cancer.

          Richard A. Passwater, Ph.D., Beta-Carotene: The Backstage Nutrient Now Universally Recognized for Cancer Prevention, Keats Publishing Inc., New Canaan, Conn., 1984.
          S.K. Gaby and V.N. Singh, “B-Carotene,” Vitamin Intake and Health: A Scientific Review, S.K. Gaby, A. Bendich, V. Singh and L. Macklin (eds.) Marcel Dekker, N.Y. 1991
          Chow, C.K Thacker, R.R, Changit, C. Bridges, R.B. Rehem, S.R. Humble, J. and Turbek, J. “Lower Levels of vitamin C and Carotenes in Plasma of Cigarette Smokers” Journal of American College of Nutrition. 5:305-312, 1986
          Stryker, S., Stein, E.A., Stempfer, M.J. Sober A. and Willet, W.C. “Effects of Diet, Alcohol, and Cigarette Use on the Blood Levels of Beta Carotene”, J. Am Coll Nutr., 6:73,1987
          Aoki, K., Ito, Y., Sasaki, R. Ohtanl, M., Hamjima, N. and Asana, A. “Smoking, Alcohol Drinking and Serum Carotenoid Levels”, Japan Journal of Cancer Research (Gann),78:1049-1056, 1987
          R.R. Watson et al., “Effect of Beta-Carotene on Lymphocyte Subpopulations in Elderly Humans: Evidence for a Dose-Response Relationship”, Am. J.Clin. Nutr, January 1991;53(1)
          Harinder S. Garewal, “Potential of Beta-carotene in Prevention of Oral Cancer”, Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 53:294S-97S, 1991
          Adrianne Bendich, “A role for carotenoids in Immune function”. Clin. Nutri. 7(3):113-114,1988
          H. Nagasawa et al., “Suppression by Beta-Carotene-Rich Algae Dunaliella Bardawil of the Progression, But Not Development, of Spontaneous Mammary Tumours in SHN Virgin Mice”, AnticancerRes., March-April 1991;11(2)
          M. Mazurkiewicz et al., “Effect of Carotenoids on Selected Indicators of Cellular Immunity in Cockerels Receiving Food with High Level of Vitamin A”, Pol Arch Weter., 1990; 30(1-2)
          Derrick Lonsdale, M.D., “Free Oxygen Radicals and Disease”, 1986/ A Year in Nutritional Medicine Monograph, Keats Publishing Inc., New Canaan, Conn.
          Hennekens, Charles, M.D., “Beta Carotene arid Vitamin E in Cardiovascular Disease”, presented at the New York Academy of Sciences Conference, Beyond Deficiency, Feb. 1992
          G.G. Konovalova et al., “Anti-Necrosogenic Action of Natural and Synthetic Antioxidants in Coronary Occlusive Myocardial Infarct”, Biull Eksp. Biol. Med. October 1989
          Jacques, P.F., Hartz, S.C., Chylak, LT.,Jr., McGand R.B. and Sadowski, J.A. “Nutritional status in persons with and without senile cataract: blood vitamin and minerallevels”, Am. J Clin. Nutr., 48:152-158, 1988
          A. Vincze et al., “The Free Radical Mechanisms in Beta-Carotene Induced Gastric Cytoprotection in HC1 Model”, Acta. Physiol. Hung., 1989; 73(2-3)
          Adrianne Bendich, “Antioxidant Micronutrients and Immune Responses”, Micronutrients and Immune Functions, A. Bendich and R.K. Chandra, New York Academy of Sciences, New York, 1990
          Harinder S. Garewal et al., “Response of Oral Leukoplakia to Beta-Carotene”, Journal of Clinical Oncology, vol. 8, October 1990
          Tuyns, A.J., Riboli, E. Doornbos, G. and Pequignot, G., “Diet and esophageal cancerin Calvados (France)”, Nutr. Cancer, 9:81-82, 1987
          Decarli, A, Liati, P. Negri E, Franceschi, S. La Veccia, C. “Vitamin A and otherdietary factors in the etiology of esophageal cancer”. Nutr Cancer, 10:29-37, 1987
          Brock, K., Berry, G., Mock, P.A., Maclennan. R., Truswell, A.S. and Brinton, L.A., “Nutrients In diet and plasma and risk of in site cervical cancer”, J. of National Cancer Institute, 80, 1988
          Micronutrients in Health and in Disease Prevention, Marcel Dekker, N.Y.
          Eberhard Kronhausen, Phyllis Kronhausen. and Harry B. Demopoulis, Formula for Life, New York: William Morrow, 1989
          L. Santamaria et al., “Beta-Carotene Supplementation Associated with Intermittent Retinol Administration In the Treatment of Premenopausal Mastodynia”, Boll. Chim. Farm., September 1989

        • Nutricj

          sorry if this repeats- my ipad conked out mid post

          faith is not what this is about. science is proven. EBM is not a fantasy and in fact is exactly the same data used by the industry. you have not done your hw if you believe Vit D is “the one”

          rickets has actually been on the rise again in some areas in our country. that is reported by the AMA. many autoimmune dysfunction is related to D deficiency. (why do you think we add it to milk?)

          D deficiency believed to be a problem for more than 75% of US people.

          CoQ10 deficiency reported by AMA board certified physicians to be a result of common prescription drug use. (why do doctors advise its addition to therapies?)

          Vitamin B deficiency as a result of prescriptions use as well as regular side effect of aging. (everyone knows this is a problem)

          Vitamin C- well, we don’t produce it at all yet we need to ingest it constantly. (duh)

          Zinc, copper deficieny- skin, eye, mucus health related problems related to many deficiencies.

          Vitamin K shot given at birth to infants in USA for fear of babies unable toblood clot on their own. (establishment- oh what a shock?)

          Calcium inclusion in foods for both children and aging adults for bone density/growth/repair. (again, dairy farmers been adding additonal for decades, as well as orange juice producers, cereal producers…)

          and so on to infinitum.

        • Arakiba


          Not threatened, just amused at how so-called rationalists can be so virulently opposed to things outside their worldview.  That isn’t to say that all supplements are helpful, or that they can’t be harmful, but to thoroughly dismiss the importance of certain micronutrients is foolish. 

        • http://justmeint1health.wordpress.com/ Justmeint

          what about vitamin C

  • PassingAsScience

    The Iowa Women’s Health Study was a terrible study with statistically insignificant results based on self reporting and most likely anecdotal evidence.

    Annals of Internal Medicine… is this the quality your peer-reviewed research today?

    Why were these women taking supplements in the first place? Who assigned the supplementation and by what diagnostic methods. 

    What are the correlations between their type of death and the type of supplement used?
    “In multivariable adjusted proportional hazards regression models…”

    Who funded the study and why were the authors from Findland, Norway, Korea, and Minnesota included in the research?

  • Dd

    The problem was the parameters of the dialogue, in this case. Not precise! Host did not demand accuracy and precision. As a result we could not trust what anyone was saying Marion Nestle came off as a generalized grump. The vitamin proponent was weak. Could have been much better.

    Get detailed accurate research and define the parameters better. Be more demanding.

  • Anonymous

    i am researching health and the how vitamins work, our bodies tightly regulate and recycle vital vitamins and elements needed for life. i am also looking out how human bio flora obtains its nutritional needs, and so far as i can tell, pathogenic bacteria also need vitamin D and folic acid and other minerels to grow and function. I have also found that Nasa astranouts how have a supplemented diet suffer from a loss of bone density when returning from long missions. To me supplents only offer a placebo effect, because good health is dependent on so many biological enviromental factors

  • Slipstream

    This is off topic for this broadcast, but I wanted to say that I am not happy that OP is now running advertisements before their webcast begins.  I thought this was supposed to be public radio.  It is one thing to say you are supported by ABC Company and this is what they do, but it is another to run a commercial message.

  • Slipstream

    I take exception to one thing I heard on this program – the statement, supported by your guests, that you need to have an above average income to eat well.  Not so!  I eat very well, and have a modest income.  HOWEVER, unlike a lot of people, I am willing to cook and prepare food, to research what good food is, and to go out of my way to buy it.  Fresh fruits and vegetables, beans, rice and other grains, high quality bread – all of these things are staples of my diet and taste much better and cost LESS than the high fat, high corn syrup junk that most people consume regularly. 

    The downside is that it is less convenient.  If you want to eat well, you can’t just stop in at a fast food restaurant for a greasy meal washed down with a 24 ounce pop.  You have to either go to good restaurants, which can get expensive, or put some effort into finding good food and preparing it.  I do the latter, and I am very happy about it.  I submit to you that this path is open to all. 

    • Aaronrootdc

      i generally agree with you, and a great response. In keeping the discussion relevant to the topic, if it weren’t for the largely market driven over-abundance of non-food “food” available at the expense of increasingly inconvenient real food, we might not be having this conversation, other than that of the therapeutic aspect of using vitamins and botanicals for specific conditions.  I live in San Antonio, TX, the diabetes and metabolic disease capital of the nation (or very close to that, at least) where availability of decent food for the underprivileged and poor is challenged, and where dialysis centers flourish.  How does a poor single mother of 5 kids with diabetes, inadequate public transport service, and healthcare practitioners using only pharmaceutical symptom management afford and access fresh fruits and veggie and high quality foods without defaulting to the more available non-food junk that is passed off as food? This seems to be a vicious cycle that persists, and one that tends to exceed the availability of education and health resources that might otherwise turn this trend around.  

    • http://justmeint1health.wordpress.com/ Justmeint

      I fully agree with you that it does not have to be extremely expensive to eat healthy food.
      I have a firm beliefe that we did society a misservice when we took Home Economics (call it what you will) out of the school curriculum. About now we have a third generation who do not know how, nor do the understand the need for cooking from scratch. For many many people it is snatch and grab a pre-prepared meal. They have no idea how to shop, how to cook and some know not how to budget.
      We could do humanity a fine service where the worlds education systems to bring back this lost art.

  • CRose

    One thing that struck me when I was listening. I think that it is terrible that the FDA doesn’t regulate vitamins very well. This seems like a no-brainer! My tea that says it’s good for me when I’m sick is required to hedge that (although liquids are great). I’d like to hear more about that….

    • Aaronrootdc

      Hi, CRose - yes, I agree…they should be regulated better, overall, and that’s a tricky thing, because that could equate to eventually requiring a prescription for that tea.   Generally, for commercially available vitamins/botanicals/supplements, the FDA regulates only what is claimed and itemized on the label, and not the quality or standardization of the contents of the container, unless the lab/company has registered with the FDA for licensing that lab, which requires quality control and batch assays on every batch to comply with FDA.  This is one reason the (better) licensed vitamin/herb companies’ products are more expensive – the cost of FDA license, compliance, and R&D has to be passed on to the consumer.  Also, many of these licensed labs don’t sell products directly to consumers, and they must be obtained through a licensed healthcare provider, as part of the FDA compliance and liability – in this way, they don’t (yet) require a prescription, per se, but at least someone that is knowledgeable might be guiding their use.  Like anything else that’s “natural”, they can be mis-used, and are very therapeutic when used properly, but can cause problems when not.  Alot to learn and benefit from these things, but it would be a shame and a disservice if they were to be prescription only.  There has to be a better way that retains generous access, reduces risk, and empowers their beneficial use.  The trivialization and vilification of these preparations is unfortunate, and is largely political, and the opponents will not be quoting the abundance of sound research, clinical trials, etc… – so much of it that I can’t keep up.  

  • Tommasina77

    Very interesting..  only observation: Instead of “.postmenopausal women, and men,( my opinion) it is clearer: “men and postmenopausal women “.

Aug 21, 2014
In this November 2012, file photo, posted on the website freejamesfoley.org, shows American journalist James Foley while covering the civil war in Aleppo, Syria. In a horrifying act of revenge for U.S. airstrikes in northern Iraq, militants with the Islamic State extremist group have beheaded Foley — and are threatening to kill another hostage, U.S. officials say. (AP)

An American is beheaded. We’ll look at the ferocity of ISIS, and what to do about it.

Aug 21, 2014
Jen Joyce, a community manager for the Uber rideshare service, works on a laptop before a meeting of the Seattle City Council, Monday, March 17, 2014, at City Hall in Seattle. (AP)

We’ll look at workers trying to live and make a living in the age of TaskRabbit and computer-driven work schedules.

Aug 20, 2014
In this Oct. 21, 2013 file photo, a monarch butterfly lands on a confetti lantana plant in San Antonio. A half-century ago Monarch butterflies, tired, hungry and bursting to lay eggs, found plenty of nourishment flying across Texas. Native white-flowering balls of antelope milkweed covered grasslands, growing alongside nectar-filled wildflowers. But now, these orange-and-black winged butterflies find mostly buildings, manicured lawns and toxic, pesticide-filled plants. (AP)

This year’s monarch butterfly migration is the smallest ever recorded. We’ll ask why. It’s a big story. Plus: how climate change is creating new hybridized species.

Aug 20, 2014
A man holds his hands up in the street after a standoff with police Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, during a protest for Michael Brown, who was killed by a police officer Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Mo. (AP)

A deep read on Ferguson, Missouri and what we’re seeing about race, class, hope and fear in America.

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