Tag Archives: supplements

Resources for responsibly reporting on supplements during the pandemic

Photo: Special via Flickr

One of the biggest challenges of covering the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic has been the proliferation of inaccurate information. That includes misinformation, propaganda, disinformation, conspiracy theories and, most pernicious of all, fake cures and treatments.

Some of the misinformation about substances that supposedly can treat COVID-19 is downright harmful, such as bleach or colloidal silver. The problem is so bad that the U.S Food and Drug Administration began issuing warning letters to multiple companies in early March to stop selling products that they said were fraudulently claiming could be used against coronavirus infections. Continue reading

Brain health supplements offer mostly hype, false hope


Photo: Kenny Stoltz via Flickr

I don’t know about you, but every time I see a commercial for one particular supplement marketed to improve brain health, I cringe. The ad is misleading and can lead people to think that consuming essentially an unregulated blend of herbs and spices can help stave off cognitive decline or even prevent Alzheimer’s. If only it were true.

The ads are so misleading that the Federal Trade Commission and state of New York actually took the manufacturer to court in 2017 to get the company to stop airing them. (A judge later dismissed charges against the company’s former president, but let the rest of the suit go forward). Continue reading

New research examines pros and cons of vitamin D to improve memory

Photo: Thomas Hassel via Flickr

How much can vitamin D supplementation boost memory, learning and decision-making in older adults – and how much can be too much?

That’s what Rutgers University-led research team set to find out in a recent study published in The Journals of Gerontology: Series A.

They examined the effects of three different doses of vitamin D on the cognition of older women. Continue reading

BBC piece on vitamin research a great example of engaging explanatory journalism

Photo: Dean Shareski via Flickr

Photo: Dean Shareski via Flickr

Anyone who has covered medical research for a while knows how fraught it can be to report on vitamin supplements and “wonder” foods with antioxidants and other substances aside from FDA-regulated drugs.

Since the FDA does not regulate these products with the same guidelines and stringency as it does pharmaceuticals and medical devices, it can be harder to find solid data about them. Further, studies on them are frequently funded by supplement companies or food organizations with a vested interest in their effectiveness or benefits. In an additional complication, there’s a mythology surrounding vitamins that promotes two main ideas: the supplements almost always are beneficial, and even if they aren’t, can’t hurt anyway. Continue reading