There’s not much evidence present to recommend vitamin supplements for most people. At the same time, an expanding body of research suggests most pills are unnecessary and don’t possibly make us healthier.
However, the message is not promoted correctly. Over half of US adults consume dietary supplements daily, benefiting an industry worth roughly US$50 billion annually.
The new USPSTF recommendations, which are the first about vitamin supplements since 2014, didn’t come lightly, but only after considering 84 studies examining the effects of supplements, comprising almost 740,000 participants in total.
“Unfortunately, based on the existing evidence, the Task Force cannot recommend for or against the use of most vitamins and minerals and is calling for more research,” explains USPSTF interim chief scientific officer John Wong.
The new proposals regarding insufficient proof of benefits only apply to healthy adults without nutritional shortcomings. Still, they do not apply to pregnant people who are attempting to become pregnant, and who are instructed to take folic acid supplements.
“We found that there is no benefit to taking vitamin E and that beta-carotene can be harmful because it increases the risk of lung cancer in people already at risk,” explains USPSTF vice-chair Michael Barry.
Except for those limitations, though, the new recommendations practically restate what many scientists have been telling us for years; there’s no objective evidence that these pills are beneficial for us.