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Osteopathic Physicians Say Vitamins Are Unnecessary for Most People

A new online poll conducted by the Harris Poll on behalf of the American Osteopathic Association has revealed that 86 per cent of Americans take vitamins or supplements, even though only 24 per cent have some kind of vitamin deficiency or nutritional problems. In other words, a majority of them are taking vitamins rather unnecessarily and are wasting their money on supplements that are unlikely to improve their health. “Numerous investigations show the alleged benefits are unproven and in the worst cases, vitamins and supplements can be harmful,” says Dr. Mike Varshavski, an osteopathic family physician. “In particular, I advise patients that this industry is highly unregulated, so it’s important to research manufacturers to ensure their products actually contain the nutritional supplements advertised.”

American Osteopathic Association has urged the government to formulate legislation that requires dietary supplements to undergo pre-market safety and efficacy evaluation by the FDA and requests the agency monitor all products marketed for human consumption, including nutritional supplements.

As the multibillion-dollar market for vitamins and supplements grows, Dr. Varshavski counsels patients to rethink whether these items should be integrated into their preventive care plan. The money spent on supplements could be used to add high nutrition foods to their diets, he added, which is more likely to promote overall health.

The survey asked American adults how they decided which vitamins or supplements to take. The top three sources of information were:

  • Recommendations from a physician (51 per cent)
  • Their own research, based on personal needs (39 per cent)
  • Recommendations from a friend or family member (22 per cent)

The survey also found 13 per cent of Americans choose their vitamins or supplements based on what items interest them in stores, while another 13 per cent go off of recommendations from a trainer, exercise professional or nutritionist, and 6 per cent base their choices on endorsements by celebrities or social media influencers.

“Obviously, there is a great need for real education on this topic, even among health care professionals,” says Dr. Varshavski. “Consumers are also cautioned to avoid trends, such as vaping supplements, until the research is conclusive and to be skeptical of gummy vitamins—which are basically sugar tablets.”