Why Vitamin Supplements May Not Be So Healthy After All

New research shows the best kind to take is natural or they could decrease your life expectancy

So if any of this stuff is true then why are so many health magazines and nutritionists promoting supplements everywhere I look? Well, there are two main reasons for the widespread misinformation on this topic…

  1. Most people or businesses in the health industry are profiting either directly or indirectly from vitamin sales in some way and so they are always going to be biased whether they mean to be or not.
  2. Because over 80% of all synthetic vitamins are now produced in China and because the FDA and UK, Australian & New Zealand Governments do very little to regulate vitamin products most pressed vitamins and health supplements on the market are not actually tested for efficacy or for safety. Meaning they don’t have to do any of the stuff that they claim that they will on the label.

Now what about the science that proves all the amazing health benefits of vitamin supplements? Well, most of that research is based on the effects of actual natural vitamins sourced from food and not the synthetic recreations that makeup 98% of all vitamins available for sale worldwide. The trouble with these types of vitamins is they are created with chemicals and so they are merely artificial clones of the real thing sometimes our bodies don’t even recognize them as vitamins and so more often than not we don’t even absorb most of the nutrients from them. Further more, many clinical studies have found artificial vitamins to actually have harmful side effects on our health long term including a shortened life expectancy.

Infographic from nutrigold.com

“In a more recent study researchers at Tufts University have found that nutrients from food are associated with living longer—but the same can’t be said for vitamin supplements.

The researchers analyzed data on more than 27,000 adults in the U.S. to evaluate the link between dietary supplements and mortality. They found that the “lower risk of death associated with adequate nutrient intakes of vitamin K and magnesium was limited to nutrients from foods, not from supplements,” a statement on the research says.

Additionally, the researchers found that getting enough vitamin K, vitamin A, and zinc via a balanced diet lowers your chances of having cardiovascular disease. Getting enough of those three via pills, though, doesn’t have the same effect. On top of that, the researchers found that getting too much calcium from supplements—defined as at least 1,000 milligrams a day—increases your risk of dying of cancer. But that relationship doesn’t exist if you’re getting that much calcium from food, the study found.”


I am certainly not suggesting that no supplements at all are beneficial for your health and I do in fact take one myself – an oregano oil supplement. However what I am saying is that the majority of the stock on your local pharmacy shelves is likely to be ineffective, especially if it is a pressed vitamin pill and so if you are going to take anything then you should probably do some thoughtful research first. If you are not living on a processed food-rich diet then it is most likely that you would not be deficient in any vitamins in the first place as we don’t actually need to consume a large amount of proper food to get our daily intakes. Our body’s can’t actually absorb much more than this amount anyway and so if I were to take a vitamin C supplement for example it would simply just pass through my body without being absorbed as a vitamin because I eat citrus every day already.

Now if you do think you absolutely need your vitamin pills because you are actually cutting food groups out of your diet altogether you should consider the fact that the vitamin pills do not contain any of the micronutrients that you would have been getting from the food and so even if they did work 100% as well as they said they would still not give you all the health benefits that you would have got from simply eating real natural foods instead. Things like minerals and proteins are just as important for our health as vitamins and so if we become vitamin obsessed and forget about other aspects of nutrition then we are certainly not going to have a balanced body.

People tend to think that they need to top up their nutrition with vitamins even if they are health conscious but the amount of vitamins that our bodies require to function at full capacity would be covered in most normal balanced diets. So if it’s not actually that difficult to get out nutrients from real food then why are over a billion people taking at least one vitamin supplement worldwide?

One of the big psychological factors behind it is hope. Humans are hardwired to believe what we want to believe. We like all the promises we are told about the benefits of health supplements and so we want to believe it is true in the hopes that we will become more healthy or more beautiful without having to actually do anything to achieve that. You could say that artificial vitamins are the modern-day magic beans.

The Facts About Synthetic Vitamins

And so what about the 2% that are in fact natural, how beneficial are those vitamins for your body?

Well as long as they have not been heated at high temperatures they should be all good eg. This is why people buy cold-pressed oils, as heating foods at high temperatures destroys most of the nutritional structure of the food. Dried herbal products are usually highly effective as well as oils and herbal tinctures. But beware of long-life juices and concentrates as they usually lose their potency very quickly on the shelves and often to combat this manufacturers will ad synthetic vitamins into the mixture to compensate and if you are not dealing with a high-strength vitamin then they won’t usually put that on the label.

To sum up I would say that more research needs to be done into the effectiveness of synthetic vitamins and their effects on our bodies and probably the government could tighten up the rules a bit around safety testing and labeling. But what you can do to protect yourself from buying dodgy products is firstly buy locally manufactured goods as cutting out China is going to give you the best chance that your supplements will be legitimate. And secondly, make sure that you actually need them as there is zero point to be taking something that you are already getting enough of in your daily diet.

Now there are of course some cases where vitamins can save people from malnutrition where food is just not an option but they are certainly no substitute for the real thing and I prefer to use them as a last resort not my first point of call for nutrition.


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