Experts find vitamins and supplements could be dangerous

An investigation into the effects of vitamins and supplements has lead to troubling claims abut their quality and safety. A

An investigation into the effects of vitamins and supplements has lead to troubling claims abut their quality and safety.

A joint investigation by the New York Times and the PBS Frontline program found that some vitamins and supplements are dangerous and can have harmful effects on anyone who takes them, reports the ABC.

“We love the notion of a magic pill. It’s something that makes it all better. It’s just too seductive,” paediatrician Paul Offit, from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said.

But questioned why so many people were taking the pills in the first place.

“You need vitamins to live. The question is, do you get enough in food? And I think the answer to that question is yes,” Dr Offit said.

“Then you look on the back [of product bottles] and you find that a number of these vitamins are contained in amounts that are much greater than the recommended daily allowance.

“Now there are studies done showing if you take a mega vitamin, you actually can hurt yourself.

“You actually can increase your risk of cancer, increase your risk of heart disease. I think few people know the risks they’re taking.”

In particular, the investigation focussed on the science surrounding vitamin D, vitamin E and fish oil and found results that raised concerns.

Fish oil has long been hailed as a ‘magic pill’ that could prevent heart attacks and cardiovascular disease.

The Frontline report also examined the science surrounding vitamin D, vitamin E and fish oil.

Fish oil has been widely taken as a supplement in the belief it could prevent heart attacks and cardiovascular disease, but after examining studies from a range of prestigious scientific journals, epidemiologist Andrew Grey, from the University of Auckland, argued differently.

“I think for cardiovascular disease, one has to say there is no compelling evidence that taking fish oil protects against the first heart attack, or a second heart attack,” Dr Grey said.

“People who are advised to do that, or are doing it, are wasting their time and their money.”

Some dietary supplements were found to be causing major liver damage, with brand OxyElite found to have caused serious damage to 70 people.

Dr Herbert Bonkovsky, who researches liver damage, said he is concerned about the damage these so-called health products can do.

“This has been sort of the fastest-growing kind of liver injury that we’re observing in the drug-induced liver injury network,” he said.

“The frequency with which we see this has roughly tripled in the past 10 years.”

Researchers are urging people to cut back on their vitamin and supplements intake or cut it out all together and get nutrients from food instead.

Do you take vitamins or supplements? Do you think they make a difference to your health?

  1. Robina Broughton  

    This flies in the face of recent research which shows in todays world, you cannot get all the vitamins, trace elements, enzymes etc from what you eat to counteract the toxic world we live in AND maintain and sustain a healthy body. Time to hang up the BigPharma thinking!

    • Catherine  

      I agree. These days with fruit and veg in particular being stored longer and not always fresh I don’t think you get enough.

  2. Catherine  

    I have Fibromyalgia and it helps me if take a good quality multi vitamin. I also take fish oil, calcium with Vit D for my bones as I cannot eat much dairy, magnesium and a mix of Vitamin C, fenugreek, marshmallow and garlic. All have been checked by a qualified pharmacist to make sure nothing interacts badly with the scripts I have to take.

  3. Macman2  

    My Doctor prescribed Vitamin D, as I get low amounts of sunlight.

    Another Australian Doctor, Cilento, spent much of her life proving Vitamin C has benefits.
    Doctors should not warn about Vitamins unless they have conducted tests. Alternatively it should be mandatory to have vitamins tested before they are sold.
    I asked on Doctor if he believed in Vitamin C. He replied “No, but my wife does!”

    Now many vitamins are prescribed, like Saw Palmetto.

    I am very vulnerable to colds and swear a daily vitamin C helps. I recently started taking garlic too, and appeared to feel better.

    All the controversy would disappear if clinical tests were conducted, with each vitamin company expected to contribute.

  4. Richard Barnes  

    The war against HARMLESS vitamin supplements continues.

    Maybe they think we’re living too long??

    It’s probably all tied up with the global warming scam and how can they reduce the population so that it’s “sustainable”!!!

    The next step might be to require prescriptions for vitamin tablets!!!

    • Russell Boucher  

      Stop giving these geniuses Idea’s there are to many thing’s we have to pay prescription’s price for that is not needed let alone giving the another sting to our wallet’s, They will work that out with out our help I hope not

  5. Sue McEvoy  

    My cardiologist recommended 4000mg fish oil per day instead of statins, is working a treat.😊

    • Jude Power  

      You mean fish oil reduced cholesterol?

  6. When I read something like this, I have to ask if the person making the comments is in any way connected to any of the multi million dollar pharmaceutical industries – and how was the research funded. I am a person who goes by results, and so if my body tells me that something is not quite right, I will opt’ for natural remedies or supplements. Good health now that I am in my seventies tells me that I am doing something right. Recommend that you choose any conventional medication at random, then Google, and look at the list of possible side effects.

    • youcankeepyourstatins  

      Yes, i agree. Seems more like the companies are worried about potential further declines in their profit margins. Funny how there is no article like this, detailing how dangerous statins are or how ridiculous blood pressure regulations are and how dangerous blood pressure meds can be. How about telling people how the magical 200 for cholesterol came about???

  7. It’s worth noting that the Frontline program is looking at the industry in the USA which is very different to Australia in terms of regulation, both in regards to ingredients, testing and manufacturing standards. There are many supplements available over the counter in the States with ingredients which are not permitted in Australia under the TGA. My advice is to be cautious about what you buy online.

    Generally, nutritional supplements can play a valuable role in circumstances where diet does not meet your specific needs provided they are appropriately selected, in a form that is well absorbed and taken at a dose right for your needs. Otherwise, they may be of limited or no value and indeed, in some instances they can be harmful. Always seek advice from a qualified health provider with training and experience in nutrition.

  8. Ann Waterworth  

    I have been taking vitamins for years and as when one gets older one does not always absorb enough from your vegetables. I have eaten organic vegetables for years and take Amway vitamins which are the top in the world today. One needs to read what is in them such as multi vitamins, from mulched down food

  9. David  

    What an absolute joke! The article is typical of the medical professions constant attacks on complimentary medicine.
    The attached links indicate that there have been been no deaths over a long period that can be attributed to vitamin supplements, however, there are over 120,000 deaths(not to mention the terrible side effects most drugs exhibit) per year in America that are directly attributed to the effects of medical drugs.

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