Vitamins advertised

November 25th, 2004 by Ben Goldacre in adverts, bad science, nutritionists, weight loss | 3 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Thursday November 25, 2004
The Guardian

· Come with me as we pull back the veils, and examine the bizarre world of the nutrient marketing industry: I give you Nutraingredients, one of the many trade publications that feed the vitamin headlines. They enthuse about the developing trend among confectionery manufacturers to fortify their products with vitamins and minerals: nice. They eagerly explain how Unilever-owned Solero leapt on the noble campaign to get us to eat five pieces of fruit and veg a day, by advertising itself as the “ice cream to help you reach five a day”. Decadent westerners, open your ears and not your mouths: ice cream is not good for you in the same way that fruit and vegetables are.

· They also suggest that a rather small (albeit satisfactory) trial of vitamin E supplements in diabetics can be deployed in campaigns to negate the impact of that very large well-publicised meta-analysis of 14 separate placebo trials which damaged their industry by finding that vitamin E supplements can actually increase your risk of death: which is a problem notably not associated with a proper balanced diet. Reader Roger Daniels certainly knows his onions. “Most of us get our fat-soluble vitamin E through a balanced diet containing such things as nuts, vegetable oils or oily fish,” he explains, before revealing, with a flourish: Andrex with Aloe Vera and Vitamin E.

· It’s not clear to me exactly what proportion, if any, of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin E I’m expected to absorb from my anal verge: certainly the French are in favour of the rectal administration of drugs, partly on grounds of taste – feel the irony – and partly because the veins that take blood away from the rectum can go straight into the bloodstream without passing through the liver, and so an entire phase of first-pass metabolism may be avoided. Look, there’s no reason why this shouldn’t be educational, just because we’re talking about my sphincter; we’re all grownups, and we’re perfectly capable of talking openly about our bottoms without deploying puppies. I’m equally willing to entertain the hypothesis that the vitamin E is there for cosmetic reasons, intended perhaps to reduce sphincteric wrinkling. After all, you can also find vitamin E in Body Shop Tinted Moisturiser, and just like their blurb says, “as an antioxidant, it can help protect the skin from the harmful effects of pollution and extreme weather”. Which could be very useful in the adverse meteorological conditions of my cleft.


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3 Responses



  1. Toren said,

    January 25, 2006 at 10:57 pm

    Love the site and all the articles. However, I had to “google” Andrex to learn it is toilet paper!

  2. prakasharige said,

    September 30, 2007 at 5:44 pm

    Vitamin E is good antioxidant.

    - Prakash Arige
    Health Value Travel

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