Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Letter sent to Reader's Digest in response to The Vitamin Myth (11/07)

Myths about Vitamin Dangers While “The Vitamin Myth” did responsibly quote experts refuting some negative reports emphasized in the article, the overall tone was sensationalist and negative, greatly exaggerating supposed risks. Vitamins may be among the safest substances known, typically causing no deaths in any given year. The article emphasized heavily-criticized single reports in preference to more rigorous published research contradicting the alleged dangers (for example, of vitamin E), a common media error. Megadoses far above levels commonly consumed were highlighted as reasons why we should not take vitamins, with confusing potencies listed for oil-soluble vitamins by weight rather than by the consumer-friendly IU measurements. The lack of specific disease benefits was presented as the only reason not to take certain vitamins (“Vitamin C: There’s no conclusive evidence that it prevents colds, heart disease, cataracts or cancer.”), reflecting an expectation and bias not shared by many nutrition experts. Any such disease claims are regulated as “drug claims”, which are prohibited for vitamins. Were you really that hard up to find 10 reasons not to take vitamins? Nutrients are not drugs, may require synergies with other nutrients for best effect, and may be misrepresented by the conclusions of review studies that combine dissimilar protocols. Even your article admits that only 3% of us get the minimal amounts of vitamins and minerals from our diet, making supplementation essential for virtually every American.


Anonymous said...

Well stated Neil. Reader's Digest is not know to me as an a very good source of good scholarship, nor complete information. But the sensational title on the cover caught my attention and I thought, well maybe I can peruse this article and at least get the sources of the claims. Pretty much wrong.

Altho there is info on some claims, some are unsubstantiated and there is no bibliography nor info on who the author is.

Not a very useful article and I trashed it.

Thanks for your comments

PS I am not a diet nor vitamin professisonal. Just a user of vitamins who regularly and systematically attempts evaluate and to keep my use of vitamins beneficial to my health.

Unknown said...

Thank you Neil.
I finally got around to reading the article. As I read it, something didn't seem right. As Anonymous said, there is no bibliography nor info on the author. It looks as if someone from the pharmacy industry wrote it to discourage people. I wonder if Readers Digest would write an article on the draw backs and dangers to prescription drugs? I know, I wouldn't hold my breath on that.
So a big THANK-YOU for your honest reply.