7.55pm, Thursday 16 June on Freesat 156 | Virgin 276 | Sky 534 Presented by Gillian Friday, this documentary looks at the multi- billion dollar vitamin and supplement industry and the failure of the US authorities to monitor it.
It is estimated that half of all Americans take a health supplement every day, but do they know what they are taking? Doctors and authorities have documented cases of deceptive claims and contamination, most notably in a 2010 study that found trace amounts of hazardous ingredients in over 90% of the supplements tested. Less well known are a number of studies that suggest that supplemental vitamins can even increase the risk of chronic diseases, including cancer. The programme hears from people who have suffered adverse side-effects from supplements. It is not generally appreciated that unlike the pharmaceutical industry, new diet supplement products coming on to the market are not subject to approval from the FDA. There is no testing and no obligation to provide any evidence that a product is effective - or even safe. Many people are self-prescribing, consuming vitamins in pursuit of long-term health benefits, unaware that they may be undermining the very thing they seek. The film raises troubling questions about the quality and safety of vitamins and dietary supplements, whether their health claims can be proved, and why successive administrations have seemed averse to tackling the problem.