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The vitamin hype includes some hazards
The history of vitamin use and abuse


*Corresponding author
1. Department of Food Science and Nutrition, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, University of Minnesota, USA
2. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, 717 Delaware St. SE, Room 478, Mail code: 1932, Minneapolis, MN 55414, USA


The discovery of vitamins in the last century has helped to eliminate many nutrient deficiency diseases and diet-related disorders that have plagued humankind since the dawn of civilization. This understanding of the interactions between vitamins and human health has launched the fortified food industry that has led to the addition of vitamins to many of the food products we eat on a regular basis such as milk, bread, juice, and the majority of processed snacks and cereals. Today we also see vitamins and related supplements sold in mega-doses, marketed by the media as the universal cures or preventions for nearly every conceivable ailment such as enhancing immunity, increasing, lifespan, boosting sexual drive, improving exercise capabilities, or preventing diseases such as cancer or Alzheimer’s disease. This review will briefly summarize the role of vitamin supplements and examine the exaggerated claims and possible dangers of unrestrained vitamin use from a scientific perspective.


Throughout the past decades, the use of dietary supplements has increased significantly alongside the growth of the multi-billion dollar dietary supplement industry (1-3). Over half of the U.S population uses dietary supplements defined as vitamins and minerals and thousands of claimed beneficial natural or synthetic products of diverse origins (3-5). It is clear from these purchasing habits that consumers have placed a considerable amount of value on these dietary supplements, but what is not so clear, and perhaps, what is puzzling, is to try to decipher why and upon what evidence. Why are we buying these products so readily and incorporating them into our every-day routines and health practices and ... ...

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