About this Author
DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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March 17, 2010

Dietary Supplements, Charted

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Posted by Derek

I'm a complete sucker for dense but well-presented information, and this one isn't bad at all: here's a chart of nutritional supplements by the strength of the evidence for them in human trials. I haven't cross-checked the data, but the authors appear to have done some homework in PubMed, at least, and haven't included any non-human or in vitro data. The interactive version at the link is particularly fun to mess around with. (Thanks to a reader and commenter here who put me on to this).

Comments (10) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Snake Oil


1. Skeptic on March 17, 2010 3:04 PM writes...

International Research = Google Ranking + # of Statistical Mumbo Jumbo studies from "Scientists"

Now thats Snake Oil!

Permalink to Comment

2. Sili on March 17, 2010 3:40 PM writes...

Ben Goldacre loves that site, but he hasn't pimped that particular graphic yet.

You've seen the climate one of course.

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3. Anonymous on March 17, 2010 4:18 PM writes...

I'm glad to have learnt what's good for my cholesterol, but what I'd really like to know is why my doctor believes that with cholesterol "the lower, the better". That seems rather implausible somehow.

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4. Cloud on March 17, 2010 6:07 PM writes...

My software engineer husband loves that site, too.

There's a really recent paper out with a possible mechanism for why vitamin D improves immune function. I actually wrote it up a couple days ago on my blog... we've been taking vitamin D for awhile, because any family with kids in day care is all about improving immune function.

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5. Anonymous BMS Researcher on March 17, 2010 8:21 PM writes...

I like the fact that they make full details complete with citations to sources, available as a Google Docs spreadsheet, and encourage readers to send them citations of evidence they might have missed.

I have felt for many years that many supplement makers like to make drug-like-claims without having to generate the sort of evidence we must generate before regulators will approve the claims we make about our products. Yes, the fine print says "these claims aren't FDA-approved," but I suspect most of their customers believe the claims anyway given their anti-science and anti-big-pharma worldview.

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6. cliffintokyo on March 18, 2010 4:05 AM writes...

Really interesting, and nice original visuals.
Would not have found this without your signpost.

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7. Vader on March 18, 2010 9:24 AM writes...

The relatively high rankings for st. john's wort for depression and cinnamon for diabetes are a blow to its credibility, at least with me.

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8. thomas on March 18, 2010 11:20 AM writes...

It's a pity they don't distinguish between "no evidence as to whether this works" and "good evidence that this doesn't work for the particular indications it claims".

For example, there's good large-scale randomized-trial evidence that beta-carotene supplementation doesn't do any good, and reasonable evidence that gingko doesn't prevent dementia. Turmeric, on the other hand, is in the 'no (human) evidence' category.

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9. Skeptic on March 18, 2010 11:46 PM writes...

"The detection of *OH production in cells is therefore extremely difficult (if not impossible) ..."

Free-Radical-Induced DNA Damage and its Repair
von Sonntag
Springer, 2006

But that doesn't stop the consumer from spending bucks on useless antioxidants in an attempt at attenuating the free radicals. Why bother spending all that money on R&D when all you need to move product is a quack on the tube and the so-called science journals playing the role of rating agencies. Antioxidants: Rated Triple AAA endorsed by Dr. Schnoz...buying frenzy commences

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10. raspberry ketones and garcinia cambogia on March 4, 2014 3:26 PM writes...

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