The tide may be slowly turning on the medical establishment’s vilification of nutritional supplements… but don’t get too excited just yet.

Last month Dr. Howard LeWinde, the chief medical editor at Harvard Health Publishing, reversed course and stated that he now recommends a daily multi-vitamin/mineral supplement for the general population at large.

This follows on the heels of a 2023 congressional resolution that acknowledged the health benefits of nutritional supplements, and an earlier survey that found 80% of pharmacists take a daily multi-vitamin.

According to Dr. LeWine, who is also a practicing internist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, the results from the recently published COSMOS Trial showing the cognitive benefits of multi-vitmain/mineral changed his viewpoint.

“Before this study, I supported anyone who wanted to take a standard daily multi-vitamin/mineral, although I did not promote its use for all my patients,” he wrote in a blog post. “However, this new evidence has tilted my opinion in favor of a daily multi-vitamin/mineral for everyone. It’s relatively inexpensive and quite safe.”

The referenced study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in January, is of course just the latest in a montain of studies proving the benefits of vitamin/mineral supplementation.

In fact, a similar cognitive study, published 18 months earlier, also showed cognitive benefits from vitamin/mineral supplementing. That study was published in the Alzheimer’s Association trade journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia in September 2022.

And those are just recent studies examining cognitive benefits. Other pivotal studies Harvard may have noticed include a 2021 study that found long-term daily supplement users had a “better cardiometabolic health profile” than people who chose not to take a nutritional supplement. Meanwhile, a 2020 study found that vitamin/mineral users had “shorter and less acute illnesses.”

Small change

While this small change of direction by a member of the medical establishment is welcome news, the natural health community shouldn’t be overly hopeful. Apparently the thumbs-up for supplements only applies to multi-vitamin/mineral supplements.

In the same blog post Dr. LeWinde continued to maintain a complete disdain for other supplements:

“The grocery and drugstore shelves are full of other supplements, which are heavily promoted for all kinds of health benefits, most of which have no scientific evidence to support their use.”

This is an odd statement to make considering the depositories of health and medical research—such as the National Institutes of Health’s PubMed database—archive literally hundreds of studies on each and every nutrient and herb on grocery store shelves.

The research on each nutrient weighs heavily on the side of positive results—which is precisely why people buy them, and why they are on the store shelves in the first place.

For example, probiotics, which surveys show is the fastest-growing nutrient supplement based on international sales, has been shown to provide health benefits in more than 30 studies in the past year alone.

Just in 2023-2024 studies from a wide variety of countries demonstrated benefits for skin health, pain management, offsetting microplastic damage to the gut, blood sugar management, and improving sexual function for women taking anti-depressants. At least six studies during the past year also showed positive results in aiding weight loss.

Does pharmaceutical funding affect opinion?

One reason Harvard Health my be changing its opinion on vitamin/mineral supplements is because they receive funding from pharmaceutical companies, and pharmaceutical companies now invest heavily in vitamin/mineral products.

For example, the world’s most recognized vitamin product, Centrum, has been owned at various points by Pfizer, Glaxo-Smith-Kline, Wyeth and Haleon.

It could be that when these pharmaceutical companies start investing heavily in probiotics, enzymes and traditional herbs the world will witness Harvard Health “suddenly discovering” all the research proving their benefits.

In the meantime, if Harvard Health’s sudden support of taking vitamin/mineral products has convinced you, check out the advantages of the whole food version offered by Optimal Health Systems.

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Source: Harvard Health Staying Healthy blog.