The ‘waste of money’ that could save your life

Have you heard the latest attack on supplements? It is so utterly remarkable in its arrogance and stupidity I just couldn’t let it slide.

In case you didn’t hear, the Annals of Internal Medicine recently published an editorial titled “Enough is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements.”

Now, I could probably stop right there. This title certainly tells you all you need to know about the outrageous content of the article attached to it. But let me also provide you with the authors’ closing comments, just so we’re all on the same page:

“Although available evidence does not rule out small benefits or harms or large benefits or harms in a small subgroup of the population, we believe that the case is closed– supplementing the diet of well-nourished adults with (most) mineral or vitamin supplements has no clear benefit and might even be harmful. These vitamins should not be used for chronic disease prevention. Enough is enough.”

I’m sorry, but does anyone in their right mind really think that the majority of the people in this country are “well-nourished”? Really?

Americans are far from well-nourished.

And not just because an unsettling majority aren’t eating nutritious food. But also because even our nutritious food doesn’t offer the same mineral and vitamin content that it used to, thanks to modern obstacles like soil depletion and GMO farming.

If you ask me, the “small subgroup of the population” here are the ones who don’t need to supplement with additional minerals and vitamins.

The supplement industry still has a long way to go in terms of clinical research, no doubt about it. But especially in recent years, they’ve really started producing some high quality papers.

In fact, over the last few decades, volumes of published studies have confirmed the clear benefits of nutritional supplementation.

And maybe that’s why mainstream detractors have started to beat their drums more loudly. Because unfortunately, we live in a society where whoever screams the loudest gets the biggest audience–despite the drivel that may tumble out of their mouths.

But it doesn’t change the facts. And anyone who says dietary supplements are a waste of money with this level of certainty is a sorry excuse for a scientist.

This editorial took a small segment of available data and warped it into pure fiction. Because there’s just not enough evidence to support a conclusion this ridiculous.

I mean, the authors didn’t even do a good job of analyzing the data in the specific research they did choose to acknowledge. And they certainly didn’t offer a fair representation of the current evidence in support of supplementation.

I could go on and on here, making a rebuttal for each of the invalid arguments in this pile of nonsense. But most of it boils down to highly technical scientific data-crunching. So let me simply say, based on the greater body of evidence, I remain totally, 100-percent committed to the use of nutritional supplements. And no shamelessly biased editorial is going to change that. Nor does it somehow erase the incredible benefits I’ve personally witnessed in my own patients.

Really, I just wanted you to know where I stand on this issue. (As if you probably couldn’t have guessed.) Because as far as I am concerned, these clowns have crossed the Rubicon.

To which I say, bring it on. This fight is just beginning. But I’m ready for it.

“Enough Is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements.” Annals of Internal Medicine. 2013 Dec;159(12):850-851.
“The case is closed: Editorial bias prevents reasonable evaluation of dietary supplements!” Point Institute. 28 Dec 2013.