Americans are not falling for fake news about dietary supplements

Bill Sardi  ·  Jul 29, 2019

A quick read of recent news headlines suggest most Americans must be dumb and dumber for taking dietary supplements.

  • Poll finds 86 percent of Americans take vitamins or supplements yet only 21 percent have a confirmed nutritional deficiencyAmerican Osteopathic Association
  • Americans Spend Billions on Vitamins and Herbs That Don’t WorkHealthline
  • Vitamins and Supplements Can’t Replace a Balanced Diet, Study SaysTime
  • Save Your Money: no evidence brain health supplements work, say expertsThe Guardian (UK)
  • Dietary supplements don’t reduce mortality ratesBig Think
  • Do vitamin and mineral pills actually work? No, say scientistsNewsweek
  • Do multivitamins even do anything?Men’s Health

Balance the above news headlines with the following fact: According to a poll sponsored by the Council For Responsible Nutrition (representing dietary supplement makers), 75 percent of US adults take dietary supplements, up from 65 percent in 2009.

Hey, Americans must all be mindless consumers of dietary supplements. Or, they really don’t believe the anti-dietary supplement propaganda. In this era of fake news, methinks it is the latter, which suggests the American public is not as naïve as one might think.

A report published in Pharmacy Times notes that “more than 90 percent of Americans fall short of obtaining the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) or Adequate Intake (AI) of at least one vitamin or mineral from food alone. Unlike Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs), which represent the nutritional level sufficient for 97 percent to 98 percent of all healthy individuals, the EAR represents the quantity of a given nutrient sufficient to meet the requirements of 50 percent of healthy individuals within a given age- and gender-specific group. EAR levels represent a less stringent metric of dietary adequacy than RDA levels.”

The Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) values represent the intake level for a nutrient at which the needs of half of the healthy population is adequate and half is inadequate. “Yet, the vast majority of Americans fail to meet this basic measure of dietary adequacy based on food alone.”

And 98 percent of individuals who reported taking multivitamins regularly achieved intakes of vitamin D at or above EAR levels compared to only 4 percent of individuals who reported not taking a supplement. Corresponding proportions of individuals in these two groups with intakes at or above EAR levels for vitamin E (100 percent vs 12 percent), vitamin A (100 percent vs 47 percent), vitamin C (99 percent vs 50 percent), magnesium (82 percent vs 42 percent), and calcium (89 percent vs 62 percent) demonstrate the value of multivitamins in preventing nutritional shortfalls, said the Pharmacy Times report. Multivitamins anyone?

An authoritative report ignored by news agencies published in The Nutrition Journal states:

The typical American diet bears little resemblance to what experts recommend for fruit, vegetables, and whole grains, which serve as important sources of an array of vitamins and minerals. With time, deficiencies in one or more micronutrients may lead to serious health issues. ...

Persistent or periodic nutritional gaps are common in the general population, and people who don’t consume adequate amounts of certain foods may have nutrient shortfalls. Over the course of a lifetime, deficiencies in one or more nutrients may contribute to serious health issues. Data shows total usual intakes from all food sources (excluding supplements) below the EAR for vitamins A, C, D, and E (45 percent, 37 percent, 93 percent, 91 percent, respectively), calcium (49 percent), and magnesium (55 percent). ...

In another national US study, regular use of supplements resulted in an estimated greater than 75 percent decrease in the proportion of older persons with inadequate micronutrient intakes.

Did you ever hear about the French multivitamin study? It’s based on a supplement containing ascorbic acid 120 mg, vitamin E 30 mg, beta-carotene 6 mg, selenium 100 mg, and zinc 20 mg. This supplement was associated with a 31 percent reduction in overall cancer incidence and a 37 percent reduction in overall mortality.

I’ve maintained public health authorities, representing the medical profession, game the public for more disease to treat.

By the way, the dietary supplement industry continues to lobby for multivitamins to be covered under nutrition assistance programs paid for by the US government.11 We really don’t want government setting the standards for vitamin supplements. And once government pays for anything, the price soars beyond affordability.

Dislcaimer: The information in this article is for educational purposes and not meant as medical advice.

Copyright © 2019 Bill Sardi Word of Knowledge Agency. Reprinted by permission. <>

Bill Sardi is a consumer advocate and health care research analyst. He is a member of Light House Church in La Verne, California. Read about his latest research at