Vitamins and Supplements

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Vitamins and Supplements

Answer to a Reader’s Question:

Most importantly, it is often stated, perhaps almost as a main theme, that the use of vitamin and mineral supplements is an important strategy for promoting and re-gaining health. I have followed this field very closely since its inception, in the laboratory, in the policy arena and in the FTC/FDA regulatory arena (I still have an autographed copy of Linus Pauling’s book on Vitamin C and the Common Cold).

Supplements of individual vitamins do not work for long term health and to argue that they do, diverts attention away from the truly important message of consuming whole plant based foods (much if not all of it being organic and raw). These supplements may increase tissue levels and they may, in some circumstances, assist in attenuating early lesions and reactions thought to lead to long term outcomes. But this is not long term health, for which there is essentially no evidence, as now summarized in several published meta-analyses of a large number of clinical trials during the past 2-3 decades.

Moreover, I strongly disagree with the assertion that taking vitamin and mineral supplements represents “nutrition”. It does not. These supplements have been shown in a growing number of studies that increased disease risk may be an outcome– exactly the opposite of the intended result. I consider nutrient supplements to be nothing more than an extension of the drug industry–in earlier years, Hoffman-LaRoche controlled more than 60% of the early market on vitamin C, for example. These products are only being offered earlier than the conventional drugs in the course of disease development, although this distinction is becoming ever more blurred.

I do not subscribe to the view that medical practice can be best improved by the use of these supplements.

In contrast to many who support the use of supplements, I receive no funding from the drug industry, either personally or professionally.

T. Colin Campbell, PhD has been at the forefront of nutrition research for over forty years. His legacy, the China Project, has been acknowledged as the most comprehensive study of health and nutrition ever conducted. Dr. Campbell is the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University. He is also the founder of the highly acclaimed, Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate and serves as the Chairman of the Board for the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.
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