Food supplements are well anchored in the habits of many millions of people around the world.
A must-attend business on the shelves of drugstores and physical or virtual pharmacies, the act of purchasing food supplements is done once in two (49.6%) through the historical sales channel of pharmacies.
Despite the lack of sufficient evidence for the majority of supplements and the persistent skepticism of scientists, the dietary supplement market is in very good health.
These magical health products, with incredible powers, appeal to people of all ages around the world.
For example, 52% of Americans take at least one vitamin or other dietary and nutritional supplement a day. And the French market accounted for around 1.9 billion euros in 2018.
Assuming that this business is juicy, we understand that any attempt to demonstrate that food supplements are globally useless will be contradicted by defenders.
Note that science is not perfect and always in search of truth, we can leave the doubt that some food supplements may have some effectiveness. However, by looking more closely at the thick scientific literature and by quickly analyzing the situation of this market, it is easy to understand that the business of the food supplement is mainly a story of money.
WHAT IS A FOOD SUPPLEMENT?
Food supplements are foodstuffs intended to supplement the normal diet and which constitute a concentrated source of food. nutrients or other substances having a nutritional or physiological effect alone or combined.
There are many dietary supplements, but “unlike drugs, the marketing of food supplements does not require individual marketing authorization, based on the prior assessment, by an expert body, of a submitted dossier. by the industrialist. “
“The manufacturer is responsible for the compliance of food supplements placed on the market with the current regulations, both in terms of safety and consumer information (non-deception of the consumer)”.
277 clinical trials scrutinized prove the ineffectiveness of the majority of dietary supplements for heart health or prolong life.
In an analysis published in Annals of Internal Medicine on July 9, 2019, authors – who received no financial support for this study and declared no conflict of interest – reveal that the vast majority of dietary supplements do not improve not heart health nor delay death.
The results come from a massive analysis of 277 clinical trials involving 24 different interventions.
Through their analysis, the researchers found that almost all supplements or diets based on vitamins, minerals and other nutrients could not be linked to prolonged life or protection against heart disease.
Although they found that most dietary supplements or diets were not associated with any adverse effects, the analysis showed that only a low salt diet, omega-3 fatty acid supplements, and possibly folic acid supplements could have health benefits.
The researchers also found that calcium and vitamin D supplements could actually be associated with a slightly increased risk of stroke. Until now, a growing number of studies like this one have failed to prove that most dietary supplements are beneficial to health.
The writer writes that “the magical or miracle solution that people are looking for in food supplements does not exist”.
People should focus on a heart-healthy diet, as the data shows more and more that the majority of healthy adults do not need to take supplements.
For this study, researchers used data from 277 randomized clinical trials evaluating 16 combinations of vitamins or other supplements and 8 diets with mortality or heart disease, including coronary heart disease, stroke, and heart attack.
In total, they included data collected from 992,129 research participants around the world.
Vitamins and supplements examined included antioxidants, β-carotene, vitamin B complex, multivitamins, selenium, vitamin A, vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, calcium, a complex of calcium and vitamin D, folic acid, iron and omega-3 fatty acid (fish oil).
Diets studied were a type of Mediterranean diet in healthy people with high blood pressure, an increase in diet based on alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) (nuts, seeds and vegetable oils) and a diet enhanced with omega-6 fatty acids (nuts, seeds and vegetable oils).
Each intervention was also ranked according to the strength of evidence as a high-risk, moderate, low or very low impact.
The majority of supplements, including multivitamins, selenium, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E alone, calcium alone, and iron were unrelated to increased or decreased risk of death or heart health.
In three studies involving 3,518 people who studied a low-salt diet in people with healthy blood pressure, 79 people died. The researchers reported a 10% decrease in the risk of death for these individuals, which they rated as a moderate associated impact.
Of the five studies in which 3,680 hypertensive participants were on a low salt diet, they found that the risk of death from heart disease decreased by 33%, with 674 deaths from heart disease during the study periods. They also rated this intervention as moderate evidence of an impact.
Forty-one studies involving 134,034 participants assessed the potential impact of omega-3 fatty acid supplements. In this group, 10,707 people had events such as a heart attack or stroke indicating heart disease.
Overall, these studies suggested that the use of supplements was linked to an 8% reduction in the risk of heart attack and a 7% reduction in coronary heart disease compared to those not included in the supplements. The researchers ranked evidence of a beneficial link with this intervention on weak.
Based on 25 studies of 25,580 healthy people, the data also showed that folic acid was associated with a 20% reduction in stroke risk. Approximately 877 participants had a stroke during the trials. The authors rated the evidence of a beneficial link as weak.
Furthermore, the authors point out that studies suggesting the greatest impact of folic acid supplementation on stroke risk reduction have occurred in China, where cereals are not fortified with folic acid as is the case in the United States and other countries.
Thus, in their opinion, this apparent protective effect may not be applicable in areas where most people consume enough folic acid in their diet.
Also, twenty studies evaluated the combination of calcium and vitamin D in a supplement. Of the 42,072 participants in the study, 3,690 had a stroke during the trials and, taken together, the researchers say this suggests a 17% increase in the risk of stroke. The evidence of risk was classified as moderate. There was no evidence that calcium or vitamin D alone poses risks or health benefits.
Although there may be some evidence that some interventions have an impact on death and cardiovascular health, the vast majority of multivitamins, minerals, and dietary regimens had no measurable effect on survival or reduction in risk of cardiovascular disease.
Finally, these results support the importance of not blindly relying on claims and sales arguments for dietary supplements. A healthy lifestyle can go completely beyond those potions that promise miracles and are often expensive. By using your money to buy healthy foods and beverages and to practice essential activities like sports, you will be better able to cope with the shortcomings and inevitable hazards of aging