Major Medical Organization: “We Shouldn’t Be Studying Supplements as If They Were Drugs”

supplementsAn independent panel of non-federal experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine concludes that the natural health community has been right all along.
On February 25, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) made a remarkable confession: conventional medicine isn’t qualified to properly assess the benefits of dietary supplements.
The group’s Recommendation Statement on dietary supplements and the prevention of heart disease and cancer, which evaluated and combined existing studies on multivitamins and individual nutrients, concluded that:

  • Studies on dietary supplements should be designed differently than drug studies (which are largely random controlled trials, or RCTs);
  • Existing dietary supplement studies aren’t representative of the general population, and don’t show “true subgroup differences” (e.g., how a nutrient will affect a young Hispanic woman versus an older Caucasian man);
  • Research should target those who are deficient in the nutrient they are testing instead of patients with optimal nutrient levels (a point that should be self-evident but has always been ignored);
  • Disagreements on appropriate nutrient levels “hinders progress in understanding potential benefits of dietary supplements”; and
  • Due to these factors, there is simply not enough evidence—using conventional medicine’s customary approach—to determine whether multivitamins, vitamins A, C, or D (with or without calcium), selenium, and folic acid help prevent heart disease or cancer, or not.

Please note the important caveat: using conventional medicine’s customary approach. Integrative doctors have used the hundreds of thousands of studies on dietary supplements to devise successful healing protocols, but they usually begin with tests to determine deficiencies and they do not generally use a one-pill-or-dose-per-health-problem approach.
The USPSTF recommended against supplementing with vitamin E and beta-carotene, to prevent negative health effects. We agree: taking beta-carotene in large quantities without the co-factors found in nature (such as other carotenoids), or taking vitamin E in the common alpha-tocopherol form without other mixed tocopherols, especially gamma, is dangerous.
To the natural health community, this all seems rather obvious. But to the FDA, Big Pharma, and major medical associations (e.g., the AMA), these are revolutionary concepts. After all, both the FDA and the FTC have been demanding that dietary supplements submit to RCTs before making any substantive claim about their intended health effects.
You’d think mainstream media would pick up on this report. You’d be wrong. Let’s check the headlines:

  • ABC News: “Supplements No Guard Against Country’s Top Killers”
  • Time Magazine: “What You Don’t Know about Your Vitamins: Supplements Are Good for You, Right? Maybe Not So Much.”
  • MinnPost: “Vitamin Supplementation is Wasteful and Risky, Researchers Stress.”

Sigh. Only the Big Pharma-funded mainstream media could pull “Supplements are bad!” from “The natural health community has been right all along.”


  1. Amazing! They are beginning to show some sense! I am 75, take lots of supplements, and have cured all my problems, and am perfectly healthy. I expect to live to be 100.

  2. It is just amazing to me how those that got do not want any one else to get! This should not be the case! If FDA has not got their hand it they will find a way to make us sick. They need to be investigated. Start calling your state reps. We need to be heard!

  3. Drugs are prescribed for a diagnosed condition and need not help those without the condition. An approved drug may harm those without the condition since they should not have legal access to it. An approved drug may harm those with the condition if there is no means other than individual experiment to identify which patients derive more benefit than harm.
    Supplements are usually consumed by those without a diagnosed need. They must provide some benefit to a significant fraction of consumers or collide with truth-in-advertising regulations. Conversely they may not harm any consumers unless product labeling provides a clear way to determine when use is inappropriate. This could be resolved through consumer education but the lie that “this is all natural so it must be safe and beneficial for everyone” is only true for placebo/homeopathic remedies. Every product that has a physiological effect, even unprocessed “organic” food is bad for someone.
    Neither physicians nor FDA consultants require a drug to benefit a large fraction of patients with a particular condition. It might only be approved for those whose condition is caused by a specific genetic defect. This is already true for some cancer drugs which require genomic testing of the tumor. A drug may carry a “black-box” warning to clarify which patients should not receive it and which side effects require immediate response. Often such warnings are added after statistically rare reactions are encountered in large clinical populations.
    While conventional medicine drills deeper to match the solution to the problem, so-called “alternative and integrative medicine” makes ever broader claims that could not bear the same degree of scrutiny or perhaps any degree of scrutiny at all. I watch employees with no actual medical training at my local “Natural Grocers” recommend (dare I say prescribe) products based only on label claims, not to cure a disease but for a symptom that could have been caused by hundreds of diseases or by the customer’s vivid imagination.
    As one who researches every substance before I consume it, who matches the published studies against my specific medically diagnosed conditions and who continues or ceases consumption based on measured effects (blood pressure, blood chemistry etc.) I fear that the clowns with the magic panacea will shut down the market for everyone.

  4. How about putting some social media buttons on your site so we can share some of the articles we think might be of interest to a larger audience?
    Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, G+1, Stumbleupon might be good for starters.

  5. Supplements have been very helpful and I will continue to take them. I have NEVER had negative reactions from taking supplements but have had one of my children develop nervous system issues after stopping a prescription drug.
    He is taking high quality supplements to help deal with this issue.
    Will use natural supplements to deal with issues and natural remedies as I am an educated person who makes my OWN DECISIONS ABOUT MY HEALTH.
    Is the bottom line about peoples health or money going into only certain companies that don’t happen to be preventative health care based. Seriously side affects let’s look at all the damage done by drug companies, supplements shouldn’t be investigated!
    Put the media to work on looking at other issues that really are a problem; this IS NOT one of them.
    I am sure most intelligent people would choose to decide for themselves how to deal with their health.
    Let me make my own decisions!!

  6. They are right! Only the Big Pharma-funded mainstream media could pull “Supplements are bad!” from “The natural health community has been right all along.”

  7. I use magnesium for migraines with great effect. I also had a blood clot in each lung. Th e cause was a lack of B12 because I have a DNA mutation that prevents me from absorbing it. Now I take methylcobalamin which is kinda like taking “preabsorbed” B12. I have more energy and I haven’t had a repeat of blood clots. My primary doctor still doesn’t believe me.

  8. Establishment institutions, government, medical, pharmaceutical industry and news media enjoy oddly blind trust up to the level of idolatry by a significant majority of the population yet risks credibility and the public catching onto the realities. [email protected]

  9. My brother and I stopped watching all mainstream news (disinformation propaganda) well over one decade ago and have not been connected to the Comcast box for about four years.

  10. Fun how this Big money and scients stude the Issuse disgear with isshase their.

  11. Big Pharma has nothing to gain by acknowledging this study, though the study’s results are gratifying to those of us who believe that supplementation can be helpful. And mainstream media is hopeless. My theory about this group is that they are mostly lazy and find it easier to print the same old content rather than rise to the challenge of writing about new and contradictory information. And maybe they are in the pocket of Big Pharma? It is discouraging that the results of this study by USPSTF aren’t
    published somewhere in the newspaper or magazines, even though it makes the Corporate Mindset look deliberately biased if not outright stupid.
    Btw, I just received a message when I hit the “submit comment” button that I need to enter a valid email address. The is a valid address that Apple offers it’s users. So now I’ll give you my gmail address that I never check.

  12. Mainstream media do not deny the fact that they receive payola from Big Pharma companies because they are engaged in business and they would not last long without the revenue needed for their operations.

  13. I’m mad as hell that I was placed on statins for over 40 years which resulted in aches and weakness in my calf muscles and serious joint pain, only to reach a cholesterol level of around 225. Yet, 3 months on 2 Red Yeast Rice tablets a day has brought it down to 189. It has never been that low before, and guess what! NO SIDE EFFECTS! We’ve all been cheated by our doctors, by the FDA and especially by Big Pharma. Anti-biotics have their place, but it’s not in the cramped conditions that cows, pigs are chickens are kept in. It’s incredible how badly those who buy into what they see on TV are duped.

  14. I wonder what the same researcher had to say about the carnage created by pharma drug…..never mind thats$$ profitable

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