Vitamin and mineral supplements

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What is quackery and does the use of vitamin and mineral supplements fall into this category?

For Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) pediatrician and rotavirus vaccine co-inventor Paul Offit, any practice or product advocated by alternative medicine qualifies is quackery when it replaces effective conventional therapy, or when it otherwise causes harm.

Together with other CHOP leaders, Offit is helping to expose the dark side of the supplement industry–a $22 billion per year market–for its opposition to regulation of its products and its tactic of scaring consumers about non-existent health dangers into buying supplements, many of them useless, in large quantities.

Known nutritionally as micronutrients, the value of vitamins and minerals have been appreciated only during the last century and a half. By learning how these chemical agents work in biochemistry, medicine has been able to stop numerous diseases with relatively simple intervention. But during the last half century, the unproven idea that if small doses of vitamins are good, huge doses must be great has gone viral–not necessarily in the science literature, but in the public’s mind. And those views are supported by a multi-million dollar marketing effort that supports the incredibly lucrative vitamin/mineral industry.

For many people, there is good reason to supplement certain vitamins, but supplementing everything for everything may not be a good idea, and in many cases vitamin supplements are outright harmful. And that is why Offit is going after the supplement industry. Primum non nocere, is the Latin term used in medicine – first, do no harm.

Source: genetic literacy project

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