Do Vitamin Supplements Really Work?

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Follow us over to It's OK To Be Smart to find out about the weird science behind the placebo effect: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcPwIQ6GCj8

This week Reactions is taking a look at the science and chemistry, or lack thereof, behind supplements. You’ve seen them in late night commercials and at your local pharmacy—little pills that claim to cure your cold, help you wake up or maybe help you lose weight. Vitamin and mineral supplements are everywhere and generate billions of dollars in revenue in the U.S. each year. But do they really work?

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Music:
Funk Delite
Nylon Flares

Producer:
Elaine Seward

Writer:
Sam Lemonick

Executive Producer:
Adam Dylewski

Scientific consultants:
Francisco Tomás-Barberán, Ph.D.
Darcy Gentleman, Ph.D.
Sophia Cai

Sources:
Should you take multi-vitamins? http://www.berkeleywellness.com/supplements/vitamins/article/should-you-still-take-multi
Prenatal vitamins: http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/prenatal-vitamins
Industry revenue: http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887324392804578362073624344816
Large multivitamin studies showing no significant benefits for healthy people:
http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=1789253
http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=728199
http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=211978
http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=1767855
http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/97/2/437.long
Some experts recommend multivitamins as “nutritional insurance”:
http://www.health.harvard.edu/mens-health/do-multivitamins-make-you-healthier
http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/01/30/382587987/study-sheds-light-on-benefits-of-multivitamins
For those with diabetes, supplements can help: http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=716096
Adverse effects: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsa1504267
Fish oil claims not supported by research: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/03/30/fish-oil-claims-not-supported-by-research/ http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fish-oil-supplement-research-remains-murky/
Choline: http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/other-nutrients/choline
Other sources: Trials for supplements don’t show adequate evidence of benefits
http://www.nhs.uk/news/2013/12December/Pages/Study-finds-vitamin-pills-have-limited-benefit.aspx
http://www.health.harvard.edu/alternative-and-complementary-medicine/the-arguments-against-dietary-supplements
http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2014/06/do-vitamins-work/index.htm
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fact-or-fiction-vitamin-supplements-improve-health/

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