Vitamins A, C and E are ‘a waste of time and may even shorten your life’

Vitamin users: ready for a surprise?

Just published today in Great Britain:

“Vitamins taken by around a third of the population do not extend life and may even cause premature death, according to a respected group of international scientists.

After reviewing 67 studies involving more than 230,000 men and women, the experts say there is no convincing evidence that taking supplements of the antioxidant vitamins A, C and E can make you healthier.”

Read the surprising and alarming article here.

Guess what kind of vitamins these are?

Have you checked your vitamins to see if they’re synthetic?

Here’s a quick way to check if your vitamins are synthetic: Use the test in “Are Your Vitamins Safe?” report here. [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Disclosure: I am one of the owners of a company mentioned in this report that offers a whole food multi.]

If you’re going to take a daily, get a whole food multi. They’re available, but obscure and more expensive than the cheap dailies. You have to ask for them.

More info on my new blog, devoted to things we thought we knew on every day health, “Are Your Vitamins Safe?”

UPDATE: Walter Mariani sends a link to a rebuttal of the above UK study by an excellent website, Natural News here. The focus of the outcry seems to be that the UK study summary must have been funded by big pharma, in an effort to discredit vitamins and supplements in general. My focus was not that. Rather that the vitamins in the studies summarized were most likely synthetic, and THAT makes some of the conclusions about their being ineffective consistent with similar studies on synthetic vitamins mentioned in “Are Your Vitamins Safe?” piece. It’s not supplements in general that are on trial, but synthetic vitamins, which seem to be pretty useless at best, given available studies.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

About the author

Kim Klaver


  • There was a similar study published in JAMA last year. It was highly problematic for the following reasons:

    (1) The studies focused on these vitamins in isolation (and science knows anti-oxidants work in a network)

    (2) The study didn’t differentiate between causes of mortality (i.e., it didn’t matter if you died of cancer or due to a car crash)

    (3) The average length of the study was three years (does anyone really believe that taking vitamins for three years can kill you?)

    (4) The researchers were selective about the studies that were included in the meta-analysis; and results would be very different depending on which studies they included.

    Please note, I am not arguing any side. My only point is that it is a very complicated problem that I don’t personally believe has been resolved adequately.

    One other point . . . be careful when reading statements like the one in this article: “antioxidant supplements significantly increased mortality.” Most people read that and think it means you will die a LOT sooner if you take vitamins. What they are really trying to communicate is that there was a statistical significance between the groups. So, for example, one group could have a lifespan of 76 years, and the other of 74 years, which could be considered statistically significant.

    Walter Reade (from Wisconsin)

  • When I read about these studies I always seem to have the following thoughts:

    1. Who paid for the study? What do they have to gain by the result, positive or negative?

    2. Is this a double-blind study? (This is the only type that is completely unbiased.)

    3. Was the study conducted across age groups, genders, ethnic groups, lifestyles, professions, etc.?

    4. Considering the close relationship that the big pharmaceutical companies have with the FDA, I hold suspect all studies performed or funded by the allopathic community. I feel that those who embrace the natural health and wellness methods are targeted to be discredited in order to increase the profits of Big Pharma.

    I’ve been supplementing my food intake with vitamins and minerals for many years and by all accounts I am well. I see my own results as the only study I need for myself.


  • Walter and Jude have both done their homework! I felt the same way about these reports until I realized the truth needs to be told. If I could change one thing about the way the Media reports these studies, it would be stating synthetic ingredients (chemicals) are being used not whole foods.

    More reason for spreading the word about safe vitamins.


  • Jude, Walter and Robin:

    It may be true that the intentions of these rsearchers was to belittle vitamins and supplements in general, and to buttress big pharma. I know some of these studies seem to have their hidden agendas.

    However, my reason for reporting is to direct readers to the fact that synthetic vitamins are the problem, not supplements – not when they are whole food based, I mean.

    Several new whole food supplement products are on the market, and some of you market them!

  • …and one of you is the owner of a company that markets them, right still Kim?

    I am sorry, the information is good but I would have appreciated a “full disclosure: I own a company that market a whole food multi, and where many blog comments are distributors in that company.” In the past you used to do this for any material of yours that could be interpreted to promote your specific company, I’m surprised you didn’t do that this time.

    I am glad to see that Walter and others have read up, it’s not just the way the studies are done but that the amounts studied are often very low (100% RDA, not the higher amounts that are needed to actually improve health as opposed to not get a deficiency disease).

    Unfortunately, the popular media headlines such that you chose are what can scare those without a rock-solid belief in vitamins from taking anything at all, when I got your e-mail I almost deleted it in shock that you chose that headline…

  • Ed you are right on. I forgot it and added it in – in bright orange.

    Sorry for the ommission.

    Thanks for picking up on it.

  • A few more points:

    (1) About the study — it wasn’t actually a study, per se. What the researchers did was compile the results of 67 other studies into one big analysis.

    (2) I’m not aware of any research that shows whole food supplements give different results than synthetic, either way.

    (3) With that said, my personal belief is that it is best to get as much nutrition from good food, and then to supplement with good natural supplements. But, I don’t really have a problem with synthetic vitamins, either.

    Walter Reade (from Wisconsin)

  • Kim,

    With all due respect, it is important to go beyond media distillations of medical literature and examine the actual articles being reported. The headlines here are damning, and the published meta-analysis in JAMA actually has a lot of difficulties. Some of the problems could relate to the form of antioxidant being used in the studies — for example, Vitamin E consisting of alpha-tocopherol alone and not adding in natural Vit E with tocotrienols, etc. We don’t know from how things are published here.

    The larger problem with this particular analysis is its emphasis on controlled double blind studies as the ‘gold standard’ by which to analyze studies and include them in the paper. They started out with 16,111 studies and “excluded” all but 68 in their meta-analysis. Many of the excluded ones were observational studies of populations, apparently.

    There are many troubles using only CDT criteria for nutritional studies, one of the most prominent being the time usually referenced: often 6 months or less. Nutritional changes often require longer than that for actual results to accumulate.

    I just returned from a huge Nutrition and Health conference put on by the Program in Integrative Medicine at University of Arizona. Researchers such as Jeffrey Blumberg, David Heber, Michael Holick, and many more were there, with additional focus talks with Andrew Weil. Interestingly, we were discussing the challenges with research in preventive medicine — prevention of illness being the main reason most people take multivitamins in the first place.

    You appear to be suggesting that this meta-analysis supports the idea that ‘synthetic’ vitamins are clearly more dangerous than ‘whole food’ ones. Although such a conclusion would be nice for whole-food vitamin business, it goes way beyond this already problematic paper’s analyses to say that.

    This said, Dr. Blumberg ended his presentation on “Evidence-based Nutrition and the Problem of Proof” with a quote from Sir Austin Bradford Hill (who developed the criteria of disease causation often used in studies today):

    “All scientific work is incomplete — whether it be observational or experimental. All scientific work is liable to be upset or modified by advancing knowledge. This does not confer upon us a freedom to ignore the knowledge we already have, or to postpone the action that it appears to demand at a given time.

    Who knows, asked Robert Browning, but that the world may end tonight? True, but on available evidence most of us make ready to commute on the 8.30 the next day.”

    Prevention is still a good idea, but we’re still foraging for how best to do that. I know what my personal choice is, but it may not be everybody’s.

    Best wishes,

  • Walter –

    You write:

    (2) I’m not aware of any research that shows whole food supplements give different results than synthetic, either way.

    Actually, a product I used to represent years ago, Juice Plus, has studies showing the efficacy of their product – a whole food supplement – on antioxidant levels in the blood among other things.

    Depending on your beliefs and what you care about, you may or may not care about whether vitamins are synthetic or not. I’ve been so brought up with whole food and whole food supplement thinkers, and am no doubt jaded. But I believe totally in whole foods and whole food supplements, right along with eating organic.

    I have learned that in the end, your own beliefs and personal experiences with products are the best metric of “Does this product work?”

    To each his or her own.


    Pam –

    Thanks for your thoughts…indeed science is never standing still…and we find out new ways to be healthy the more we read and try new stuff.

    No matter what is found, it will support someone’s belief, and will help someone while others could care less. Statistics matter most to those who have strong world views about the issues. And we know people have different agendas based on their world views.

    Like organic or not organic. I believe big time in eating organic and buying from local farmers. and I pay extra to do it. Others who have the same options, don’t.

    Different beliefs.

    Regardless of the flaws this (and any other scientific study may have), the fact remains that the vitamins discussed were most probably synthetic, and there have been previous studies showing their ineffectiveness (except at giving people expensive urine).

    I have been a supporter and user of whole food supplements for almost 20 years, so I am definitely biased and happy to be so.

    I feel so strongly about it that now I am part owner of a company that offers whole food multis on the market.

    We hope to do more than anecdotal studies soon on their effectiveness, vis a vis synthetics.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

  • Well as I live in the UK, this report has had splashed headlines on TV and newspapers.

    Personally I have almost given up reading the daily reports that are often contradictory so I no longer believe any of them, positive or negative.

    What one “study” approves today will be rebuffed tomorrow.

    How many of us feel the same as myself?

    Drink red wine, don’t drink red wine (or any alcohol), the reality is that we all make choices of lifestyle for better or worse!!

  • Adios….

    I’m not educated enough nutritionally to really participate in most of the above conversations re: the article.

    What I will add to is this comment from Ed:

    “In the past you used to do this for any material of yours that could be interpreted to promote your specific company, I’m surprised you didn’t do that this time”.

    I simply add that I concur w/ his opinion. I also was surprised. This is your site/service etc. so you can do as you please (you’ve earned it) however, personally I’d rather you shout it out loud (as you used to before others stopped you) vs. coming in from the ‘back door’ which is what happend this time. Not sure why that bugged me so much, but it did.

    To your credit, you apologized.

    Continued success all…Adios.

  • Do we know where the whole foods come from to make the whole vitamins?

    Does the bottle of YOUR whole food
    vitamin tell you?

    Couldn’t they come from whole foods that are genetically modified whole foods.

    I’d like to know how to find out.
    If anyone can comment on that, please post it here.


  • Hi Kim,
    My mother use to say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Nothing is more powerful than personal experience, not even those so-called scientific research. Quote from one of my favourite book by Kevin Trudeau: “The term scientific evidence is one of the greatest deception of all time. If the scientific evidence is so accurate, why are the conclusions and results constantly being disproved when new research is produced? You are led to believe that scientific evidence prove that something is true. This is a false assumption. Every day we hear new research shows old resaeach to be false. The bottom line is, you will hear the term, “scientifically proven” used when the medical community claim they know the cause of a disease. You will hear doctors make statements of fact when, in reality, they are only opinion. You are being misled and you are being lied to. You are being decieved”, end of quote.

    That resaerch could not have been carried out by an independent, unbiased third party. Think about it, there is more proof every day that vitamines and minerals which are made from fruits, vegetables and whole grains have been helping people live healthier and longer.

    People need to be educated and don’t swallow every thing they hear and read. There are effective vitamines made from natural biodegradable products. There are ineffective and even dangerous vitamines out there. Uneducated consumers are at risk to select ineffective supplements and waste their money, time and health. Or worst yet, to select dangerous supplements and sacrifice their health.

    The food we eat is not giving us all the nutrients that the body needs to be healthy and function at is best. supplementing our diet is a must for good health and vitality.

  • Great post,

    Thanks for sharing this useful information and hope to read more from you. Vitamins and minerals play a big part in our lives and many of us don’t realize the importance that they actually hold. We take food for granted nowadays and it has been shown on many occasions in the media and such that the foods we consumer don’t hold nearly as much nutrients as our bodies need. Everyday we are faced with choices of supplements, medication and organic choices of food that will help us to bring our bodies back to the levels that are healthy and this in turn will help to fight off diseases and ailments. 🙂

    Max Life Research

  • God bless you! You continue to be a woman of your convictions. How dare anyone criticize you and your understanding of whole foods and such, when for all these years marketers have been arguing to be heard themselves?
    It is a crying shame that marketers will allow someone else to express themselves openly and honestly without wrong criticsm.
    You have a different opinion, great. Let's talk. How about that for a concept?
    karl in Arizona

  • God bless you! You continue to be a woman of your convictions. How dare anyone criticize you and your understanding of whole foods and such, when for all these years marketers have been arguing to be heard themselves?
    It is a crying shame that marketers will allow someone else to express themselves openly and honestly without wrong criticsm.
    You have a different opinion, great. Let's talk. How about that for a concept?
    karl in Arizona

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