You may run into the “vitamins are a waste of money” meme just about everywhere on the internet and on cheesy television news programs (you still watch television news?). Here is a blurb from CNN:
A newly-published editorial about vitamins is getting a lot of attention.
The controversial piece, published in this week’s Annals of Internal Medicine, claims that dietary supplements and vitamins are a waste of money.
The editorial, which is based on three studies, says taking supplements offers no benefit when it comes to preventing cardiovascular disease, cancer or a second heart attack.
The report also says those studies also show that multivitamins don’t prevent mortality or improve cognitive function in men older than 65.
Depending on the agenda of the reporting site, the report might not suggest that the vitamin study would inevitably have reached a different conclusion if it had been conducted with a population that was in need of nutritional assistance. Let’s face it: study healthy individuals, especially those who enjoy a healthy diet, and vitamin supplements might well be a waste of money; but study those that do not have the means to provide for healthy meals, those that might be forced to choose between paying the rent and feeding the kids, then the addition of vitamins to their diet might show great benefit.
Of course another problem is that the vitamin industry is yet-another huge, greedy corporate interest and when a family is choosing between food and shelter, there might not be any money available to bolster the profits of the vitamin plutocrats. Ironically, this industry has created the myth that vitamin supplements are necessary to sustain a healthy life (making vitamins psychologically addicting?). So the report questioning the efficacy of vitamins does have value, even if it is possibly skewed.
Don’t just accept this report or any other report or study without engaging your critical thinking genes. Today’s news reporting is too often selected for its entertainment or shock value. Think for yourself. Question everything. You might not be the expert on vitamins or anti-bacterial soap or spinach, for that matter, but you can still question the parameters of a study and definitely the language used in the reporting of the results. Unless, of course, when Popeye says it.
Vitamins might or might not matter but words do matter.