The Vancouver Sun, one of the struggling relics of the former print media era had recently published a story reporting that vitamins don’t work. (If struggling means a share price that has plunged by over 80% in two years, then it’s struggling). Considering that the post media group relies heavily on advertising, it was a courageous story, don’t expect to see any adverts for vitamin supplements in the near future in it’s thinning pages…

The theory of vitamin use is to maximize the amount of beneficial elements in your diet, including amino and fatty acids, minerals and fiber. One of the most common vitamins on sale is the range of multivitamins taken to boost the immune system, particularly during cold and flu season. Accept, according to research, as the article in the Vancouver Sun pointed out – they don’t work..

The manufacturers must be licking their lips at the ageing boomers who have always had no qualms about taking a pill to feel better or to improve something. And there is no shortage of blog sites that will tell you that supplements work – they don’t. And there is no shortage of mouths to swallow the sales pitch, which is the most active ingredient in any supplement according to research.

Here are some recent (2012 -2013) research conclusions:

The Journal of Evidence-Based Medicine published a study that found that “Long-term supplementation with multivitamins and minerals did not improve male US physicians’ cardiovascular health or prolong health.”

Effects of Vitamin A and B-Carotene Supplementation on Birth Size and Length of Gestation in Rural Bangladesh: “A Cluster-Randomized Trial: Antenatal vitamin A or β-carotene supplementation did not benefit these birth outcomes.” From the same study, “Birth weight, length, and chest, head, and arm circumferences did not differ between supplementation and placebo groups nor did rates of LBW (Low Birth Weight). Neither gestational age nor preterm birth rate differed with vitamin A or β-carotene supplementation.”

Supplement Use Among Pregnant Women in Ethiopia,  Prevalence and Predictors: “Overall supplement use, particularly folic acid intake, was found to be negligible during the prenatal as well as antenatal periods.” The authors of that study also noted that, – “Information by the media and healthcare personnel given to childbearing women about the need to take folic acid to prevent neural tube defects seems to improve the intake of folic acid during the protective period.”

Other research has taken a look at suspected links between vitamin supplements and cancer. Calcium has been implicated in carcinogenesis and linked to the risk of several cancers in epidemiologic studies.  “Calcium Intake and Lung Cancer Risk Among Female Nonsmokers: A Report from the Shanghai Women’s Health Study found that there was, “No association was observed for dietary magnesium intake or the use of calcium – or vitamin D-containing supplements.” No effect found which linked calcium supplements and cancer.

The object of course is to stay healthy, and evidence indicates again and again, the best, almost exclusive way to do that is to eat healthy and get some exercise. There is no shortage of laziness to keep the supplement industry buoyant, or media companies eager to ‘report’ on the next vitamin taking trend.

Bon appetit!