Traditional multivitamins are falling out of favor among Americans, while supplements such as vitamin D, fish oil and probiotics are gaining ground, a new study finds.
Researchers found that between 1999 and 2012, Americans’ overall use of supplements remained stable. Slightly more than half of adults said they took vitamins, minerals or some other type of dietary supplement. What’s changed are the products of choice.
Multivitamins and many individual vitamins and minerals are less popular, as are botanicals such as Echinacea, ginseng and garlic extracts, the investigators found.
On the other hand, more people are using vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics – “good” bacteria said to benefit the digestive system.
“I did expect to see that vitamin D use would go up, and that fish oil would go up,” said lead researcher Elizabeth Kantor, an epidemiologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.
That’s because both have been the focus of a lot of research and media attention in recent years, Kantor pointed out.
Some studies, but not all, have suggested fish oil pills can curb the risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular trouble. And studies have hinted that vitamin D could be protective against a range of ills, from cancer to diabetes to multiple sclerosis – though clinical trials testing those ideas have yet to be finished.
The drop in multivitamin use was less expected, Kantor said. But it also makes sense, she added. During the study period, a number of studies questioned the value of multivitamins when it comes to preventing major health conditions.
Similarly, antioxidants – such as vitamins C and E, and beta-carotene – were once a hot topic. Early studies suggested they might battle ills like heart disease and cancer. But clinical trials later found either no benefit, or even potential harm, from antioxidants, Kantor’s team pointed out in the new report.
The disconnect between research, medical implementation and public perception just astounds me. Much of it is due to reductionist thinking.
Vitamin D is a prime example. The research indicates that vitamin D controls gene transcription in the nucleus of each cell of the body. This has far reaching effects on all aspects of health, but to reduce this research to “protection” against a host of chronic illnesses distorts the true value of vitamin D.
Probiotics have great benefit when used properly – after chemotherapy, radiation therapy or antibiotic use. However, daily use of probiotics has far reaching negative effects on digestive health and the immune system. In this case, the media is about ten years behind the research.
Antioxidants have tremendous benefit when used in lower doses. However, high dosage antioxidant therapy does have negative effects. The research on botanicals is exploding everywhere but the United States. Not only do we not do the studies on botanicals, we don’t read them either.
I have been taking and recommending fish oil for over 35 years. I also predicted that the multiple vitamin would disappear from store shelves by 2000. Obviously, I was way ahead of the curve. When an instructor has to bend the curve this much, they must question their teaching methods – is the information actually getting through?
The Bottom Line:
Public perception and medical implementation of nutritional supplements lags years behind current research. There are no simple solutions just complex biochemistry. However, practitioners that stay current with the research can offer you support that is years ahead of that public perception.
Source: October 11, 2016 National Institutes of Health