The big vitamin scare: American Medical Association claims vitamins may kill you (opinion)

Wednesday, February 28, 2007
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Editor of (See all articles...)
Tags: vitamins, conventional medicine, medical myths

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The latest round in conventional medicine's ongoing attempts to discredit (and ultimately outlaw) nutritional supplements is found in a highly questionable study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which claims that vitamins actually increase the risk of death.

The study claims to have analyzed a collection of previous studies on Vitamin A, beta carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin E and selenium, concluding that most of the nutrients are actually dangerous to human health. Of course, this is research from conventional medicine – an industry that promotes patented chemicals as perfectly safe, even though FDA-approved pharmaceuticals are killing 100,000 Americans each year. (Imagine the uproar if vitamins killed even a fraction of that number…)

To avoid getting hoodwinked by questionable research on "vitamins," you have to strongly consider the financial interests of the source of this research. JAMA accepts millions of dollars in advertising from drug companies each year, and its pages are absolutely packed with drug ads. The American Medical Association, for its part, has long worked to discredit alternative medicine and has even been found guilty by U.S. federal courts of engaging in a conspiracy to destroy chiropractic medicine. The AMA, which is largely considered a joke by anyone familiar with natural health, is hardly a credible source for publishing scientific findings on nutrition. To protect the multi-billion dollar drug industry, the AMA would say practically anything, I believe.

How to fake a vitamin study

Faking a vitamin study to show supplements as harmful is extremely easy to pull off, by the way. All you have to do is use synthetic forms of the vitamins and avoid using natural, food-sourced vitamins. These synthetic vitamins – which are really just industrial chemicals – may be called "Vitamin E" or "Vitamin A" or even "Vitamin C" but they have no functional resemblance to the real vitamins that occur in nature. Every single study over the past two decades that has sought to discredit Vitamin E, for example, focused on using synthetic Vitamin E in order to show harm. It is curious that no researcher from the world of conventional medicine will ever test the natural, full-spectrum vitamins, nutrients and phytochemicals that appear in nature. You know why? Because they would discover a universe of natural medicine that makes patented prescription drugs obsolete.

A second way to fake a vitamin meta-data study is to simply cherry-pick the results you want to include in your meta-data analysis. This is a routine trick used by dishonest researchers who have an agenda of discrediting nutritional supplements. To pull this one off, they simply eliminate all previous studies that showed positive results for vitamins, and include only previous studies that showed negative results. Then they run a statistical analysis on all the studies they hand-picked and declare – surprise! – those vitamins are dangerous! Many of the studies on vitamin E, by the way, were conducted on dying heart patients who were only expected to live two weeks, regardless of what they took.

A third way to distort the science is to confuse people with statistical obfuscation. The reporting on this particular study, for example, confuses absolute risk with relative risk. Vitamin A, according to the reports on this study, increased mortality risk by 16 percent. But that is a relative risk number, meaning that if 1 person out of 100 normally died, then 1.16 people out of 100 would die when taking these synthetic Vitamin A supplements. In other words, it might not even be one additional person out of 100, or even out of 1000.

And yet, it is curious that when conventional medical researchers report the results of mortality risks for their prescription drugs, they always use absolute risk. They say things like, "Well, this drug only increased the risk by one percent." But what they are not saying is that it may be a 200% relative increase in mortality risk, depending on the baseline absolute mortality numbers. So if only 0.5 people out of 100 normally died from heart disease during a particular study, but 1.5 people died when taking a drug during that study, the relative risk increase is 200%. But the medical journals and the mainstream media will report is at a "one percent increase."

You see how the game is played? Here's the con:

• All statistics on the dangers of prescription drugs are reported as absolute risk to make the numbers seem smaller (and make drugs seem safe).

• All statistics on the dangers of synthetic vitamins are reported as relative risk to make the numbers seem larger (and vitamins seem dangerous).

And this is how conventional medicine lies with statistics. It's only one of the many tricks used to disinform the American public about the dangers of pharmaceuticals or the benefits of nutrition.

This research published in JAMA does remind us of one important point, however: synthetic chemicals are harmful to human health. If you take cheap "vitamins" made of these synthetic chemicals, you are doing yourself more harm than good. These cheap vitamin manufacturers, by the way, are usually owned by pharmaceutical firms. I would personally never take vitamins purchased at common retailers such as Wal-Mart or Walgreens. I only recommend and consume vitamins from high-end nutritional supplement companies.

Blurring the line to scare consumers

But conventional medicine researchers try to blur the line between "junk vitamins" and "quality vitamins" by classifying all nutritional supplements as "vitamins," regardless of what they're really made from. By discrediting a few synthetic chemicals, they can effectively dissuade the masses from taking ANY vitamins, including the good ones. And that is, of course, their goal: to use FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) to scare consumers away from nutritional supplements so that patients will flock to the patented, synthetic chemicals that earn drug companies billions of dollars in profits. Drugs make money for Big Pharma, and vitamins compete with drug sales. Once you understand the economics and the motives of the parties involved here, the junk science con becomes quite obvious: Pushers of pharmaceuticals will always use dirty tricks to discredit nutritional supplements because it is in their financial interests to do so.

My own financial interests, by the way, are squeaky clean. I sell no supplements, I earn no money from supplement companies, and in fact I am not even paid by NaturalNews for my work on these articles. In terms of potential conflicts of interest, I have far more credibility than the AMA, a shady organization that remains mired in blatant conflicts of interest and a frightening agenda of pushing drugs, surgery and radiation onto as many Americans as possible.

Now, here's a common sense way to quickly realize the JAMA research is complete nonsense. Round up 100 people who are taking multiple pharmaceuticals, and compare their health to 100 people who are taking vitamins and nutritional supplements. Guess who's healthier? The supplement crowd will be healthier every time. It's the obvious question: If vitamins are so dangerous, where are all the dead vitamin takers? And if pharmaceuticals are so safe, where are all the super-healthy prescription drug patients? They are nowhere to be found.

The healthiest people, by far, are those who take supplements, who engage in regular exercise, and who avoid taking prescription drugs.

Why conventional medical researchers remain nutritionally illiterate

Western medicine still doesn't "get" nutrition. They think all health effects are achieved by single, isolated chemical constituents. But nutrition doesn't work that way. In nature, for example, Vitamin C is not a single chemical, but rather a symphony of complementary phytonutrients that work in concert. Conventional medical researchers almost never test plant medicine using full-spectrum nutrients. Why? Because they don't understand the concept of nutritional synergy.

The bottom line? Only fools believe research about nutrition that comes from the American Medical Association or its journal. Conventional medical researchers declaring that vitamins are worthless is about as credible as Bush Administration climatologists claiming there's no such thing as global warming.

With the publication of this research, the distortion of health reality is now complete. According to the Americal Medical Association, vitamins will kill you but pharmaceuticals will make you healthy.

Someone help me stop laughing before I blow out a lung and require surgery.

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About the author: Mike Adams (aka the "Health Ranger") is the founding editor of, the internet's No. 1 natural health news website, now reaching 7 million unique readers a month.

With a background in science and software technology, Adams is the original founder of the email newsletter technology company known as Arial Software. Using his technical experience combined with his love for natural health, Adams developed and deployed the content management system currently driving He also engineered the high-level statistical algorithms that power, a massive research resource now featuring over 10 million scientific studies.

In addition to being the co-star of the popular GAIAM TV series called Secrets to Health, Adams is also the (non-paid) executive director of the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center (CWC), an organization that redirects 100% of its donations receipts to grant programs that teach children and women how to grow their own food or vastly improve their nutrition. Click here to see some of the CWC success stories.

In 2013, Adams created the Natural News Forensic Food Laboratory, a research lab that analyzes common foods and supplements, reporting the results to the public. He is well known for his incredibly popular consumer activism video blowing the lid on fake blueberries used throughout the food supply. He has also exposed "strange fibers" found in Chicken McNuggets, fake academic credentials of so-called health "gurus," dangerous "detox" products imported as battery acid and sold for oral consumption, fake acai berry scams, the California raw milk raids, the vaccine research fraud revealed by industry whistleblowers and many other topics.

Adams has also helped defend the rights of home gardeners and protect the medical freedom rights of parents. Adams is widely recognized to have made a remarkable global impact on issues like GMOs, vaccines, nutrition therapies, human consciousness.

In addition to his activism, Adams is an accomplished musician who has released ten popular songs covering a variety of activism topics.

Click here to read a more detailed bio on Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, at

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