Thanks for this, Phil.

One of my bugs as a journalist is when it takes ages to find the original research, because the article does not include any reference to it. I think it’s lazy and obfuscatory to have only vague references to ‘researchers’ and ‘experts’. The only quoted people in this article are a dietician in London who has nothing to do with the research, and a rep from a body representing the industry. Not good journalism! I assume this is the research referred to, below. Reading the abstract, I think more research is needed – as is so often the case with info news journos pick up and turn into something definite!

Long-term antioxidant supplementation has no effect on health-related quality of life: The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, primary prevention SU.VI.MAX trial

  1. Serge Briançon1,2,*,
  2. Stéphanie Boini2,
  3. Sandrine Bertrais3,
  4. Francis Guillemin1,2,
  5. Pilar Galan3,4 and
  6. Serge Hercberg3,4

+ Author Affiliations

  1. 1Nancy University, P. Verlaine, Metz University, Paris, Descartes University, EA 4360 Apemac, Nancy, France, 2Clinical Epidemiology and Evaluation, University hospital of Nancy, CIC-EC CIE6 Inserm, France, 3UMR, U557 Inserm/U1125 Inra/CNAM/Paris 13, CRNH Ile-de-France, Bobigny, France and 4Department of Public health, Avicenne hospital, F-9017 Bobigny, France
  1. *Corresponding author. Ecole de Santé Publique Faculté de Médecine, 9 Avenue de la Forêt de Haye 54505 Vandoeuvre les Nancy, France. E-mail: [log in to unmask]


Background The effect of antioxidant vitamin and mineral supplementation on health is one of the most controversial issues in human nutrition. Our objective was to investigate the effect of nutritional doses of a combination of antioxidant vitamins and minerals on health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in a sample of healthy French adults.

Methods SU.VI.MAX is a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, primary prevention trial in which a total of 8112 participants received a single capsule daily containing either placebo or vitamin C 120 mg, vitamin E 30 mg, beta-carotene 6 mg, selenium 100 μg and zinc 20 mg. Participants completed HRQoL questionnaires (SF36 and GHQ12) at baseline and after a mean of 76.0 ± 4.2 months.

Results Scores for physical dimensions tended to decrease over time, whereas those for mental dimensions tended to improve. No differences in changes over time were observed between the supplement and placebo groups. Participants who believed that they received placebo had lower HRQoL scores than did those who thought they had received supplements [SF36 Bodily pain (−3.3), General health (−2.2), Vitality (−1.6) dimensions and physical component summary score (−1.1) in men, and in SF36 Social functioning (−2.3), General health (−1.4) dimensions and physical component summary score (−0.7) in women].

Conclusions Long-term supplementation with antioxidant vitamins and minerals had no beneficial effect on HRQoL in this trial. This is contrary to conventional beliefs and claims that such an effect exists.

Trial Registration “Primary Prevention Trial of the Health Effects of Antioxidant Vitamins and Minerals.” NTC n 00272428



Mandi Smallhorne
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Subject: Taking multi-vitamin pills 'does nothing for our health'


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