It's official: health supplements are a load of phoney baloney

22 August 2013

Most health supplements are officially bollocks, according to Which! A recent investigation by the consumer vanguards found that many of their benefits were exaggerated – and in some cases – downright false.


The EU now asks for companies who make health supplements to give them independent scientific evidence that they actually do something. And the amount they’ve turned down for authorisation is huge – out of 44,000 products, only 248 have been officially approved by the European Food Safety Authority. Glucosamine for healthy joints? Nonsense. Prebiotics? Nah. Probiotics? Pah! etc.

Which! decided to investigate well known brands like Seven Seas to see if they actually worked, according to EU regulations. They found that Bioglan Probiotic capsules, Bimuno Prebiotic powder and Seven Seas Cardiomax all made unproven health claims on their packaging. Since December, it’s been illegal to advertise health claims on products that haven’t been approved by the EU.

It's a blow for the lucrative supplement industry, which is worth £385m. 38% of people in the UK take some kind of supplement, and we spent a staggering £164m on multivitamins in 2012 alone. So as you can imagine, they're furious at the Which! report.

Graham Keen, director of the Health Food Manufacturers’ Association said: ‘This new report is inaccurate as it infers that manufacturers are misleading their customers – which is simply not true. Just because a certain ingredient does not have an EFSA-approved claim, does not mean that it doesn’t have a beneficial effect.’

Well, it KINDA DOES.

Anyway, you know what has a beneficial effect, makes your joints supple and aids speedy digestion? Booze. And it's cheaper.

TOPICS:   Consumer Advice   World News   Health   Scams


  • craig
    i have a bad knee,im a postman and i take condroitin,glucosamine hcl and msm tablets. i have noticed a huge difference in my knee,the click has gone and its pain free. so its all false how come it works? or i suppose its in my head??
  • craig
    i think alot are exagerated to extremes with crazy claims but alof of them contain stuff i have found works. green tea extract,capsicum,cinnamon,spirulina for a start are excellent
  • Daisy
    Taking Seabrooks cheese and onion crisps always makes me feel better.
  • Kev
    @craig : re your bad knee, look up what placebo means if you dont already know. Placebo is great, I am afraid of flying. I asked my sister to prescribe me pills to keep me calm on the flight. they worked a treat!! Only for her to tell me they were multi vitiamins. It's amazing that people believe what they think works.
  • craig
    @kev i have tried a few things and they dont work at all(they also claim to work )so that would of given a placebo effect no??? and the pain in my knee is bad,it isnt a placebo. as said alot are pure bull. seven seas for joints is a ripp off that doesnt work at all,plus many other joint tablets alike. but i have noticed a too big a difference for the one im on to be fake/placebo. its funny though because i havent been to a doctors in over 5 years,last time i had paracetamol,ibuprofen was about 7 yr ago. i walk 6 days a week for work,mountain bike,run,train light weights,so my joints are under alot of strain and i went from living on ibuprofen to reduce the swelling to not being on any. msm is anti-inflamatory ,like capsicum so i gonna stick with natural things over doctor tablets thanks
  • Zeddy
    Dr Tablets sounds like a dodgy practitioner anyway. Dr Kildare is the man to go to.
  • Mitchell-= 7.
    Both of us have been taking Glucosamine and Omega 3 (1000mg) tabs for 13 years and swear by them. My wife has acute Rheumatoid Arthritis and while she still has pain it is nowhere as bad as it used to be. They are supplied by Health Span. Note - My wife broke everything from the waist down when she was 20 and involved in a serious motor accindent
  • Mitchell-= 7.
    My wife and I have been taking Glucosamine and Omega 3 (1000mg ) tablets for 13 years supplied by Health Span and cannot agree with the above. My wife broke everything from the waist down when she was 20 and involved in a serious motor accident. She now suffers from Rhumatoid Arthritis but not bad enough to stop her living a full active life which we put down to these tablets. I am 75, my wife 65
  • fibbingarchie
    Easier to pop a pill than live on a healthy balanced diet I suppose......
  • Captain.Cretin
    Another +1 for Glucosamine, I dont take it all the time, but it helped me a lot after joint pain caused by steroid treatments; now I take it whenever I suffer joint pain and within a week or two I feel much better. A lot of the others are tat though; tried all sorts of treatments for hayfever and the only one that worked was a rubber clip in my nose.
  • Big M.
    @craig, read Ben Goldacre's book 'Bad Science'. You will be fascinated about the section on placebo effect. The packaging the tablets come in can lead to a difference in your perceptions. So can the colour of the tablets, the cost of the tablets, the perceptions of the person prescribing / recommending the tablets. Two tablets are better than one, injections even better. It really is fantastic reading, couldn't recommend enough.
  • Chewbie
    Flex with the herb (or just smoke a placebo)
  • Big R.
    puff on me julie, y'all be on a ragga tip. big up.
  • Shiftyniftysshadow
    Chill pills are good...
  • So T.
    So, there are now 65+ year olds visiting this site? Hard to believe. I bet they drink Tennant's...
  • Paranoid P.
    Wow, 3 x recommendations for Glucosamine on one comments thread! Must be effective, gotta get me some!! You're definitely real people who use it and not paid to push it in social media, right? I mean, if you can't trust what people say on the internet then we're all screwed right?
  • Jean
    I take a particular brand of glucosamine too and it really works. I won't name it because that would be advertising but it quickly stopped the inflammation in my feet when I was diagnosed with arthritis. Saved me from taking the painkillers which was all the doctor could prescribe. I also take hyaluronic acid capsules from a certain health store, they work too, as does cherry active concentrate. They also help with back pain. I am a very active person and I KNOW that I no longer have the pain I had before I took these. It is most definitely NOT a placebo effect!
  • Chewbie
    Flex with the herbal supplements
  • Big M.
    @Jean, thing is you don't KNOW anything. Placebo effect. BTW does anyone suggest Glucosamine as an anti-inflamatory? Strange how alternative medicine doesn't work on cancer and AIDS. Jean - You are not in a position to say something is not placebo effect. Read up on it. Suppose you're into homeopathy too.
  • Teddy E.
    I used to take Viagra for my joints until I discovered glucosamine. Wow! Now everything stands to attention.
  • Mike O.
    These people saying they've taken a pill and the pain is gone therefore it means its not a placebo are retards. As previously said, read the Bad Science book.
  • Jean
    Whoa! Steady on Big Mozzer and Mike! Each to his/her own. I only said these supplements work for me, that's all. And glucosamine and hyaluronic acid are already present in joints, they're not herbals. No, I'm not into homeopathy and yes, I do read up on everything. Fair's fair chaps!
  • Phuck M.
    It wasn't already widely known to be utter bollocks?
  • Gary
    I have to say, I was suffering from what the doctor says is "psoriasis", a skin condition which is apparently genetic, and I have started taking supplements and it has not only made a huge difference to my skin, I also have a lot more energy and notice I am a lot more alert, and it is the only thing I have changed in my daily lifestyle
  • Me
    I start taking after I shagged Chewbaccas mom!

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