Common Dietary Supplements Have Little to No Effect on Mortality

Yet another sizable study has shown that common dietary supplements have little to no effect on late life mortality. This finding of course has to compete with the wall to wall marketing deployed by the supplement market. Researchers have been presenting data on the ineffectiveness of near all supplements of years, but it doesn't seem to reduce the enthusiasm for these products. In the past it was fairly easy to dismiss all supplements as nonsense, or at the very least causing only marginal effects that were in no way comparable to the benefits of exercise and calorie restriction, but matters are now becoming more complex. New supplements based on altered mitochondrial biochemistry or senolytic activity, such as nicotinamide riboside, mitoQ, and fisetin, might well have effect sizes that are worth it as an addition to calorie restriction and exercise; we shall see as human studies progress.

In a massive new analysis of findings from 277 clinical trials using 24 different interventions, researchers say they have found that almost all vitamin, mineral, and other nutrient supplements or diets cannot be linked to longer life or protection from heart disease. Although they found that most of the supplements or diets were not associated with any harm, the analysis showed possible health benefits only from a low-salt diet, omega-3 fatty acid supplements and possibly folic acid supplements for some people. Researchers also found that supplements combining calcium and vitamin D may in fact be linked to a slightly increased stroke risk.

Surveys show that 52% of Americans take a least one vitamin or other dietary/nutritional supplement daily. An increasing number of studies have failed to prove health benefits from most of them. "The panacea or magic bullet that people keep searching for in dietary supplements isn't there. People should focus on getting their nutrients from a heart-healthy diet, because the data increasingly show that the majority of healthy adults don't need to take supplements."

The vitamin and other supplements reviewed included: antioxidants, β-carotene, vitamin B-complex, multivitamins, selenium, vitamin A, vitamin B3/niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin D alone, calcium alone, calcium and vitamin D together, folic acid, iron and omega-3 fatty acid (fish oil). The diets reviewed were a Mediterranean diet, a reduced saturated fat (less fats from meat and dairy) diet, modified dietary fat intake (less saturated fat or replacing calories with more unsaturated fats or carbohydrates), a reduced fat diet, a reduced salt diet in healthy people and those with high blood pressure, increased alpha linolenic acid (ALA) diet (nuts, seeds and vegetable oils), and increased omega-6 fatty acid diet (nuts, seeds and vegetable oils). Each intervention was also ranked by the strength of the evidence as high, moderate, low or very low risk impact.

The majority of the supplements including multivitamins, selenium, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin D alone, calcium alone and iron showed no link to increased or decreased risk of death or heart health. "Our analysis carries a simple message that although there may be some evidence that a few interventions have an impact on death and cardiovascular health, the vast majority of multivitamins, minerals and different types of diets had no measurable effect on survival or cardiovascular disease risk reduction."



I'm sorry, but the funding source of "massive" studies like these must be disclosed. Big pharma would love to either shut down the natural supplements industry or convince everyone that they have few if any benefits. I'm sorry Hopkins Medicine participated in this. I'll give an example: How much red wine would one have to drink in order to get the SIRT1 benefits of a resveratrol suplliment? ( ).

I could go on and on with components of my daily stacks ( ashwagandha, quercetin, and ~20 other things limited only by my budget for suh things, with ~10 more on my wish list that are too expensive to justify right now starting with PQQ, NAD, and CBD oil).

Now doubt, this study will receive great attention from the Big-Pharma sponored Big MSM Media and convince millions of low information consumers to go ahead and get sick and old, and pay $$$ a month for drugs to treat the symptoms of underlying diseases that could have been prevented or delayed.

Posted by: Tom Schaefer at July 19th, 2019 7:45 AM

@Tom Schaefer
Supplement market is not regulated because the going assumption is that there's low effect and low harm done by supplements. I am surprised there's low effect. Because the people telling supplements would be the ones taking care about their health, unless the study controlled for that.

Posted by: Cuberat at July 19th, 2019 8:37 AM

@Tom Schaefer: Yeah, because we all know that supplement sellers don't make big money... oh, wait...

Posted by: Antonio at July 19th, 2019 9:22 AM

not all supplements are ineffective. there are plenty that have shown real promise (glycine, fisetin, Mitoq, etc) just to name a few

Posted by: scott emptage at July 19th, 2019 10:00 AM

Unless one happens to be African-American:

"A secondary analysis showed taking fish oil lowered the risk of heart attack by about 28 percent, which is a "statistically significant" finding, says Dr. JoAnn Manson, who is chief of the division of preventive medicine at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. She led the research.Those who appeared to benefit the most were people who didn't ordinarily eat much fish in their day-to-day diet, as well as African-Americans, Manson says.

African-Americans in the study experienced a 77 percent lower risk of heart attack compared with taking a placebo, which is a "dramatic reduction," Manson says. Further research is needed to confirm these findings, she adds, but, "in the meantime, it would be reasonable for African-Americans to talk with their health care providers about whether they may be candidates for taking fish oil supplements."

"Vitamin D And Fish Oil Supplements Mostly Disappoint In Long-Awaited Research Results"

Posted by: Tim at July 19th, 2019 10:24 AM

Depending on the sample and effect sometimes half a percent is statistically significant. 28 percent is huge, if applied throughout the whole population.

Posted by: Cuberat at July 19th, 2019 1:15 PM

Everyone wants to pop a pill and get healthy. Even me! This is pretty much the ideal way to medicate yourself. You just swallow a pill, it travels to your stomach, it gets digested and sent to your bloodstream, the chemicals then get distributed to every cell in your body, which then hopefully all get better and stronger and YOUNGER!

Nothing could be easier. Scientists need to get to work on an effective Fountain Of Youth pill. :-)

Posted by: Zan at July 21st, 2019 7:42 AM

Unfortunately, these studies offer to little information about how they performed to be meaningful. Similar past studies of vit. C and E that showed little to no effects - were under recommended dosages and for insufficient time periods - to contradict other studies that were specific and showed more effects. Frankly the supplement industry is no more monetarily biased than the US health care industry. It is no accident that US prescriptions cost multiples of what other developed countries pay for the same scripts and medical care in the US is many times more expensive than countries that rated much higher in medical care quality and results. Whether nutraceuticals or prescription there is more than enough profit motive to bias outcomes.

There are few areas of our lives where the term "Buyer beware." is more appropriate than in healthcare. Turning you life over to the US BIG health care industry (corp. medial professionals, corp. hospitals, and corporate insurance) is begging to be their prey. You might want to read up on the current conclusions of the opioid epidemic - it was the medical and pharmaceutical industry that were responsible for it. Not your corner dope pusher - though the outcome was the same. This fact alone should make you very skeptical about any health advice you get that involves large sums of money in its treatment. (Search - Whose responsible for opioid epidemic.)

Not reading clinical data on supplements and vitamins before taking them and or noting their standardization results in a similar state of being "farmed" or worse "preyed" upon by unrestrained and unethical levels of profit motive.

Posted by: Durwood M. Dugger at July 21st, 2019 1:08 PM

I think Reason got the headline right. Supplements won't extend your life. As far as I am concerned I take supplements to not be deficient in any of them. And I don't take a many of them to avoid an excess of them because this is probably as harmful as being deficient. Any deficiency of any nutirent is linke with numerous health conditions, so I don't think they are worthless on aging...

Posted by: Christian Kerner at July 21st, 2019 2:29 PM

@ Christian Kerner fisetin could extend healthspan (increase chances of getting to 100)

Posted by: scott emptage at July 21st, 2019 4:19 PM

First there is limited research on supplements. Best consolidation is probably

I'm trying to stay with the supplements that have the best research.

Vit D is an example: I'm trying to get my level to around 70 or so. I try to do this with most supplements...look for the best research...go with the best evidence. Try to ignore the naysayers....try to be aware of where the info is coming from.

Also trying to avoid toxics in supplements.

Trying to reduce expenses. Seems COQ10 is about as effective as ubiquinol...just need to take a bit more...and is less expensive.

To say that the issues are complex is understating it...keeping a legit overall view-point is difficult.

But diet...stress reduction...exercise...mental challenges...supplements...are pretty much what most people have access to at this point. Access to the newer therapies is limited and sure to be costly.

Posted by: harold at July 23rd, 2019 8:47 AM

They looked at only THREE non-vitamin supplements! Why even repost this garbage?

This is obviously a trashy study that says nothing at all about the literally THOUSANDS of different other supplements available.

Posted by: Paul Tozour at July 23rd, 2019 9:40 AM

There was an article this week in Men's Health about rapamycin and Dr. Alan Green. Does anyone have an experience with him? If you look him up in the state of New York he seems to have multiple offices and practices based around several types of practices and locations. One is in Bayside, family medicine, one is in Flushing, Rapamycin, one is in Galway focusing on addiction. All use the same phone number.

Posted by: OK at July 23rd, 2019 1:47 PM

I'd like to know where the science really is on Mitoq. Helpful or detrimental?
This article does not bode well for it:

" With the development of MitoQ, a highly cell penetrable compound with specific affinity for mitochondria, the ability to deliver antioxidants specifically to the mitochondria in vivo became possible"
but then it goes on to say, " Other groups have further suggested that MitoQ may even be a cytotoxic compound that induces a collapse of the ΔΨm, which significantly reduces mitochondrial ATP production and oxygen consumption (Alshamrani et al., 2016)"
." Mitochondrial-targeted coenzyme Q has been shown to steadily accumulate in the mitochondria, where even micro-molar concentrations can disrupt membrane integrity leading to mitochondrial dysfunction; however, accumulation at nano-molar concentrations is suggested to be protective for membrane integrity (Cocheme et al., 2007). This speaks to the difficulty of achieving the correct dose of MitoQ in different tissues that vary greatly in their mitochondrial density, and with a compound that steadily accumulates in the mitochondria over time."

Finally another article makes it sound good:
There may be several reasons for the cytotoxic specificity of Mito-compounds in cancer versus healthy cells. First, cancer cells have a greater Δψm than healthy cells, which enhances mitochondrial accumulation of these agents. Second, cancer cells have higher levels of ROS and may be more susceptible to further tilting of the redox balance.

Posted by: august33 at August 28th, 2020 9:18 PM

Very nice post! Food supplements are very necessary for today's time because regular meal does not provide us sufficient nutrition and proteins for our day to day requirement. We can also consume these type of supplements for body building purpose.

Posted by: Arthur at September 1st, 2021 9:28 PM
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