Readers Digest vitamins article misleads millions of Americans: CRN

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Dietary supplements Nutrition

An article about vitamins published by Readers Digest has mislead millions of Americans about the important contribution dietary supplements can make to a healthy lifestyle, warns the Council for Responsible Nutrition.

Its comments follow the publication of the article, 5 Vitamin Truths and Lies​ in the April 2010 issue of Readers Digest​ magazine. It suggested that the age-old advice to take your vitamins is a folk tale. “Once upon a time, you believed in the tooth fairy………And you figured that taking vitamins was good for you. Oh, it's painful when another myth gets shattered​,” wrote the author.

Waste of money

Recent research suggests that a daily multi is a waste of money for most people—and there's growing evidence that some other old standbys may even hurt your health,”​ the article continued.

But CRN insists there is a large body of evidence that shows the various health benefits of vitamins, ranging from filling nutrient gaps, helping prevent neural tube birth defects, supporting heart health and more. The article fails to put the science into perspective and cherry-picks through the scientific literature without providing consumers with a balanced view about the role that vitamins play in an overall healthy lifestyle, said the council.

Its vice president, scientific and regulatory affairs, Douglas MacKay told “Taken at face value, this article is misleading to the millions of consumers, that for a variety of reasons – including individual diet choices (vegetarian, vegan, lactose intolerant, etc), life stage, habits, health status, etc –may benefit from nutrient supplementation​.”

CRN believes that articles like this add to consumer confusion around health, nutrition and the practice of preventive healthcare. “Health and Nutrition is highly individualized and the authors’ lack of understanding of the topic is clear by their effort to support an overstated generality that dietary supplements are not necessary by citing a handful of studies is a preposterous exercise​,” said MacKay.

The science supporting the appropriate application of dietary supplements like calcium for strong bones, omega-3 fats for heart health, iodine for healthy pregnancy, and probiotics to balance the good bacteria in the digestive system is so strong it is irresponsible for the editors of Readers Digest to not present this information to their readers, he added.

Healthcare professional

Meanwhile, dietary supplements complement a healthy diet along with other healthy lifestyle choices, including exercising, seeing your healthcare professional regularly, getting enough sleep and other factors, argues CRN.

Founded in 1922, Reader's Digest​ has a global circulation of 17 m, making it the largest paid circulation magazine in the world. It is read by 40m people in more than 70 countries, with 50 editions in 21 languages.

No one from Readers Digest was available for comment before publication of this article.

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