Vitamin supplements - Do we need them?

Half Price Vitamins and Mineral Supplements
This is one of the worst ads (now on TV) seen to extoll viewers to purchase huge amounts of Vitamins, Mineral Supplements, plus possibly other alternative medicines, just because they are HALF PRICE or heavily discounted. The shoppers are all female – indicating that females need more medication, or are more gullible? Insulting to females, anyway.
At the end one shopper reviews her bill with great joy, with the quantity of “remedies” she has purchased, she must be very wealthy.
We are supposed to trust health professionals, but when they promote items like this, how can they expect our trust?

99% of the population do NOT need extra vitamins or minerals, but somebody has got to make money out of believing that we do!


I agree, tmar5954. I get an annual blood test, however, have confirmed with my GP that this test does not screen for Vitamen C. I have always wondered the reason for weak fingernails. Put it down to genetics. I found I was very low in Vitamen C.
GP’s should always inform their patients about this very important Vitamen.

You have focused on capitalism and the underpinnings of modern economies, world-wide, save for a few insulated places. To wit, does anyone need an iPhoneX, a 3D HD TV to watch footy, the latest toy or fashion, and so on?

Most of us do not need vitamins IF we eat a healthy balanced diet, but many of us, for whatever reason, do not. There is one view that ‘they do no harm’ as sufficient justification for taking supplements, just in case.


The boffins state that vitamins consumed in excess of our requirements are excreted in our urine thereby making our urine “very expensive”. Might I offer the suggestion that food per se which is consumed both for and beyond our daily requirements is excreted in both our urine and faeces. The over-consumption of food can make us obese, but only those vitamins we have been warned not to consume to excess because of adverse outcomes are of any danger to us - other than to our wallets.

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Could not agree more. When collecting statin medication from my pharmacy I have, on 2 occasions been recommended to purchase COQ10.
On another occasion when collecting an antibiotic it was suggested that I purchase a probiotic.
I have known the staff who have made the suggestions for some tine. The pharmacy recently changed ownership. I believe the staff have been fed a spiel promoting the benefits the products mentioned.
The proliferation of vitamin supplements in pharmacies is of concern to me. Do we know whether the claims made for the products have substance.
COQ10 I believe needs to be made from specially sourced seaweed. Of course I could have been conned in this belief!
Who knows? Who knows if any of the vitamins sold are of value?
I used steer clear of pharmacies with large displays of vitamins, etc. Hope my pharmacy does not go too far down this road.

I propose it is more of a modern business ‘ethic’ best summarised by ‘Want fries with that?’ or ‘Want to supersize?’ or in a bank, ‘Need any insurance today?’ where everything is a hard sell / suggestion delivering more profits. While many of us find it objectionable it apparently works to boost the bottom line, so it probably not going away as a tactic.

We’ve got some content up on the CHOICE website for members on vitamins and supplements - it’s worth having a read if you’re really interested in this issue, or wondering what the value of the main products available on the market is.

@johngordon42, in response to your comment - if you didn’t catch it we partnered with Four Corners on a mystery shop of pharmacies to see what products they’re selling in store. It makes for interesting viewing.

We also made a submission to the TGA earlier this year, supporting options for reform in the labelling of supplements. This would include adding a special label to the front of products that have been independently, scientifically proven to do something. I’ve just checked, and I appear to have never posted the submission on our policy page - I’ll post it up this afternoon and it will be under 2017 submissions, for those interested in reading it.

And if you’d like to know how the TGA currently regulates these products, the answer is (more info here):

“The TGA doesn’t actually test the products for safety and quality, rather, it checks they contain only pre-approved ingredients that are considered low risk. Sometimes there are lab tests of products and inspections of manufacturing facilities to ensure good manufacturing practice is upheld.”

Tilly - private health insurance (and some other health related issues) campaigns and policy advisor