Press reports of ‘new’ negative vitamin study quote old research

The results of a two-year-old study conducted by Dr Tim Byers of the University of Colorado Cancer Centre have been touted in the press as ‘new’ findings that highlight the negative effects of taking more than the RDA of vitamins.

Newspapers, including the Daily Mail, reported that a “new study” had found that taking too many supplements can increase the risk of heart disease and cancer, however the data source was in fact a 2012 review published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

“This commentary is not based on any new research, but on old data discussed at an American university forum, which by its own admission, showed that only those who took unrecommended, high levels of supplements reported negative health effects,” said Graham Keen, executive director of the HFMA.

He added: “The commentary pointed out that, ‘multi vitamins taken at the correct dosage can be good for you and people need not be afraid of taking multi vitamins and minerals’ – an outtake which could be missed or misinterpreted by consumers reading today’s news reports.

“Food supplements have an excellent history of safety, both in the UK and worldwide. Aside from eating healthily, food supplements are an essential requirement for some groups of people who may be at risk of nutrient deficiencies, a position supported by the Department of Health.”