A few weeks ago Frontline, a PBS documentary series broadcast a program called “Supplements and Safety”. The show was produced by Frontline, the Canadian Broadcasting Commission and the New York Times. The program left the viewers with the idea that supplements were unsafe and unregulated and unnecessary because they have no benefits and may even be dangerous.
Dr. Paul Offit, a longtime natural health foe explained that taking 1000 mg of Vitamin C would be equal to eating 7 or 8 whole cantaloupes and this is not healthy because the body was just not meant to eat that much. The facts are, scientific evidence actually suggests that food alone may not be able to provide the nutrition needed by the body and also the suggested daily requirements (the nutrients need for optimal health) are way different than the RDA’s of food (the required daily allowance of a nutrient needed to avoid getting a disease condition like scurvy for Vitamin C). Additionally it is believed that 93% of Americans are actually nutrient deficient.
Many false examples in regards to Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Fish Oil, to name a few, were given to question the credibility of supplements as well as to lay the foundation for more regulation requirements needed for the industry in general. Of course no mention of the damage these regulations might do on consumer free choice, supplement pricing and drug company intervention in the supplement industry was given.
The program went on to suggest the false idea that supplements are only being used to treat or prevent disease. This plants a misleading picture in people’s minds. Many supplement users, as we know, take supplements as part of a lifestyle which includes healthy eating in addition to exercise.
One segment of the show focused on fish oil supplements found in health food and other types of stores being inferior to fish oil made by pharmaceutical companies. The expert, Preston Mason, PhD, cut open fish oil supplements and pointed out the difference between the drug and the over the counter supplement. Dr. Mason, who is not a medical doctor, used the drug Vascepa in the segment. For the past several years, Dr. Mason has been a paid advocate for this drug which is manufactured by Amarin Pharma. This connection was not pointed out in the show. At the end of the show, Amarin had a website ready that highlighted the documentary and a media campaign that showed Dr. Mason and another advocate for the drug Vascepa Dr. Eliot Brinton, MD. Dr. Brinton, a medical doctor is required under the Sunshine Act to disclose his compensation publically. Dr. Mason is not. Dr. Brinton has earned over $350,000 from pharmaceutical companies according to OpenPayments.cms.gov.
As consumers in this industry we need to keep our eyes and ears open to the possibilities that these attacks against the vitamins industry by the pharmaceutical industry, the media and the government are going to increase in order to escalate more regulation onto the supplement industry. We need to stay informed and alert others that these attacks are bogus and may seriously harm our right to chose. We really need to STAY EDUCATED.