Vitamin Supplements: Do You Believe in Magic?

The Atlantic recently published an excerpt from Dr. Paul Offit’s book Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine, which takes a closer look at the vitamin supplement industry and the harm it is inflicting [1].

Vitamin supplements

New Supplement Results Easy to Sensationalize, Not Highly Meaningful

New research published in this month’s Archives of Internal Medicine has caused quite a stir amongst vitamin- and mineral-popping Americans [1]. Researchers report that over the course of a decades-long study, older women who regularly took vitamin and mineral supplements were more likely to die than those who did not.

This news may surprise those who look to vitamin and mineral supplements as a mechanism for maintaining — and even improving — health. However, while it would be easy to sensationalize the research findings, the reality is that there are many limitations that prevent drawing meaningful conclusions — ones that could be used to inform behavior — from the study.


Study Showing Antioxidant Vitamins Increase Mortality Flawed

A study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) made headlines recently. The review, “Mortality in randomized trials of antioxidant supplements for primary and secondary prevention: Systematic review and meta-analysis”, assessed the effect of antioxidant supplementation on mortality in randomized primary and secondary prevention trials and concluded that beta carotene, vitamin A and vitamin E supplementation are positively correlated with death and may increase mortality.