Are Health Supplements Too Much of a Good Thing?


January 15, 2016

Americans today consume more nutrients than ever. In addition to enriched foods and energy drinks, half the country regularly takes a vitamin or mineral supplement. People with health problems may need additional nutrients. But for most Americans, researchers don’t know for sure whether extra doses really help — and caution that in some cases, they might hurt.

“We don’t have long-term clinical trial data on the efficacy or safety of supplements,” said Regan Bailey, a nutritional epidemiologist and associate professor at Purdue University. So “consumers need to be aware of how much they’re getting.”

Below, compare the dosages for some of the most common supplements to the amount of nutrients available in everyday foods. And for more, watch our documentary, Supplements and Safety, beginning Tues. Jan. 19.

Sarah Childress

Sarah Childress, Former Series Senior Editor, FRONTLINE

Dan Nolan

Dan Nolan, Lead Designer for Digital, FRONTLINE



More Stories

‘Children of the Cold War’: Inside Biden and Putin’s Years-in-the-Making Clash Over Ukraine
Watch an excerpt from the new FRONTLINE documentary ‘Putin and the Presidents.’
January 24, 2023
A Reflection on 40 Years of FRONTLINE, From Our Editor-in-Chief and Executive Producer
Our first episode aired 40 years ago tonight — and our work goes on. A message from FRONTLINE Editor-in-Chief and Executive Producer Raney Aronson-Rath.
January 17, 2023
Jan. 6, Two Years Later: 10 Documentaries to Watch
Explore a selection of FRONTLINE's reporting related to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
January 6, 2023
'Collaboration is Protection': Journalists Talk About Investigating Pegasus Spyware
Laurent Richard and Sandrine Rigaud of Forbidden Stories spoke with FRONTLINE about investigating Pegasus, the powerful spyware sold to governments around the world by the Israeli company NSO Group, and measures they took to protect themselves.
January 3, 2023