omega 3 fish oil

Are Supplements A Waste Of Money?

FishoilGreens“Researchers warned people to stay clear of supplements, which are taken by one in three people in Britain.” – Telegraph Online.

We’ll make this a quick one, because we do not like to ramble on. Feel free to add your comments. We are very open to different views and would like to hear yours.

1.) A diet rich in a wide variety of natural whole foods should provide the body with adequate micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).This is why PT’s should encourage their clients to look at their diet first whenever the topic of supplements is being discussed. But also, when you start working with a new client, it’s usually a good idea to conduct a review of their dietary records anyway, usually in the form of a food diary. This can often highlight areas where important food sources are lacking. e.g. fruit and vegetables, good fats (such as nuts, seeds, oily fish, etc), and protein-rich foods.

2.) Not everybody consumes a diet with a wide variety of natural whole foods across all of the food groups. Having a poor diet obviously puts people at risk of deficiencies. According to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 93% of the U.S. population do not meet the estimated average requirement for vitamin E, 56% for magnesium, 44% for vitamin A, 31% for vitamin C, 14% for vitamin B6, and 12% for zinc. We found this quite surprising. (1)

3.) A study by NCBI shows that 7.5 years of low-dose antioxidant supplementation lowered total cancer incidence and all-cause mortality in men. (2)

4.) Another study conducted by NCBI indicates that an individual following a popular diet plan has a high likelihood of becoming micronutrient deficient; a state shown to be scientifically linked to an increased risk for many dangerous and debilitating health conditions and diseases. (3)

5.) This overview by Oregon State University, shows that there are a number of different groups of people (listed below from the overview – all credit to the authors) who may be at risk of nutritional deficiencies. (4)

  • Women of childbearing age (folate, vitamin D, iron)
  • Pregnant and lactating women (vitamin B6, folate, vitamin D, iron)
  • People who consume <1,200 cal/day (multiple micronutrients)
  • Obese individuals (multiple micronutrients)
  • Infants, children, and adolescents (vitamin D)
  • People with dark-colored skin (vitamin D)
  • Those who cover all exposed skin or using sunscreen whenever outside (vitamin D)
  • Older adults (vitamin B12, vitamin D, zinc)
  • Low socioeconomic status (multiple micronutrients)
  • Patients who have had bariatric surgery (multiple micronutrients)
  • Patients with fat malabsorption syndromes (fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K)
  • Alcoholics (vitamin A, B vitamins)
  • Smokers (vitamins C and E)
  • Vegans and those with limited intake of animal products (vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium)
  • People taking medications that interfere with the absorption and/or metabolism of certain micronutrients (e.g. proton pump inhibitors used to treat heartburn may impair vitamin B12 absorption; frequent aspirin use can lower vitamin C status.)
  • People whose diets are not adherent to the (formerly food pyramid)—the vast majority of Americans (multiple micronutrients)


It is our opinion that individuals should aim to obtain adequate micronutrients from their diets. 

There are people who do not obtain their RDA from vitamins and minerals from their diet. There are also people in the categories listed above that may be at risk of micronutrient deficiencies.

Ideally we would all be educated in nutrition and therefore able to analyse our diets to ensure we are getting everything we need. If people were able to identify gaps in their nutrition, ideally they would know what foods to consume more of, in order to plug that gap.

We do not live in this “ideal world” and people often choose to take a daily multivitamin and mineral as an “insurance policy” against deficiencies.

It is our opinion that taking a vitamin as a “cure all” for a poor diet is not good enough.

Obviously everyone is free to make up their own minds about whether or not to supplement with a vitamin and it’s worth taking a look at the article on the Telegraph Website. We are always fascinated by the comments section at the bottom of the articles and often learn more by reading some of the well written comments than we do from reading the article!
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