Saturday, September 10, 2011

Busting the Anti-Supplement Myth Machine

[Note: Adapted from an article which originally appeared in Natural Products INSIDER Supplement Perspectives]

Pick up any newspaper, scan your daily news feed, glance at the TV --- and you’re sure to be hit by the latest “news” about dietary supplements: how they don’t work, how they’re all tainted with contaminants and laced with pharmaceuticals; and how their manufacturers are out to get us!

The truth, however, is far more reassuring than the headlines make out.  Go ahead, Google “dietary supplements” with the name of any of the big networks or newspapers, anything from ABC News to the Chicago Sun-Times or CNN, you name it.

I did: and in top search listings for seven of the country’s leading newspapers and five of its major networks, nearly 70 percent of the coverage is skeptical and cautionary about dietary supplements.

In fact, our self-appointed guardians of public health (whether wielding Senatorial powers or using a journalist’s pen) almost always forget to discuss those tablets and capsules that are profoundly dangerous and largely toxic: prescription drugs. Each year, prescription drugs injure approximately 2.2 million and kill at least 100,000 Americans.

With today’s nutritionally bankrupt diet over 52 percent of Americans take dietary supplements, a rate that is expected to keep growing. So, if supplements are so popular, and good for us, why, we ask, are they getting such a bum rap? Good question.

Feeding the undeservedly bad reputation is a confluence of several factors, including: historically poor government enforcement against a small number of fringe operators; general misunderstanding of how well-regulated the dietary supplement industry actually is; and media feeding frenzies related to high-profile cases that have little, or nothing, to do with the dietary supplement industry, aside from actually showing the regulations effectively working.

Therefore, it’s up to all of us to be myth-busters on a daily, or weekly or monthly basis — so that one day our guardians of public health will have no choice but to acknowledge what we already know: the power and promise of safe dietary supplements that are produced by a responsible, well-regulated dietary supplement industry: in other words, the facts.

It’s time that conventional researchers begin to design studies that build on vitamin research of the last 50 years rather than attempt to poke holes in what we already all know: vitamins promote health, reduce disease, and help people live longer … and better.

And it’s high time that the media write a new story about dietary supplements, one based on science and facts not on cynicism and misreporting, because the story they have been writing of late is getting old fast. 

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