20.04.2024

Supplements have NO health benefits and are simply a money-making scheme, top scientist claims

A top scientist has claimed trendy supplements have no health benefits and are simply a money-making scheme. Professor Tim Spector, a genetic epidemiology expert, said we should buy ‘real food’ instead and eat a predominantly plant-based diet with minimal, if any, ultra processed food.

The author of Food For Life: The New Science Of Eating Well said supplements make ‘total mugs’ of those who buy them.

Speaking at the literary Hay Festival in Wales, he said: ‘These supplements are driven by the same companies… they’re going to be the new future giant food companies.

‘Their budgets are massive. They’re not these artisan little people in the back of a shed in Somerset making a superb organic supplement.

Health expert Professor Tim Spector (pictured) said people should spend money on ‘real food’ instead of supplements

Health expert Professor Tim Spector (pictured) said people should spend money on 'real food' instead of supplements

‘They’re all made in massive factories in China and you have no control [over] what it is – and 99 per cent of them have been shown not to work at all.

‘So we’re total mugs paying all that money for supplements when we should be spending it on real food.’ He said the only supplement with any benefit is B12 for vegans who are not eating as many iron-rich foods as they should.

TV doctor Chris van Tulleken, 44, added: ‘The last time I looked at the big meta-analysis, my reading of it was that there is no supplement or extract of any food that brings any health benefit in a healthy person with the possible exception of vitamin D, or B12 in a vegan.’

Professor Spector, 64, said he recognises that it is ‘impossible to do away with all the unhealthy foods completely’ but said people need educating on how to identify them.

‘We could massively increase the life expectancy of the poor and our health span,’ he said. ‘It [the UK] is officially the sickest country in Europe.’

The scientist said the supplements available are made in 'massive factories in China' as he claimed '99 per cent of them have been shown not to work at all'

The scientist said the supplements available are made in ‘massive factories in China’ as he claimed ’99 per cent of them have been shown not to work at all’

The scientist, who has been calling for ‘personalised nutrition’ and co-founded Zoe, a personalised nutrition programme, follows a plant-based diet, eats lots of fermented foods, practises intermittent fasting and has been ‘weaned off milk chocolate’.

But he said he is ‘addicted’ to nuts and crisps which he swaps for ‘a small bowl of high-quality peanuts or cashew nuts’.

Professor Spector also said switching to a plant-based diet will prove beneficial for the planet, claiming that giving up meat is more effective than not driving and not taking flights for holidays abroad.

He said: ‘The single most important thing we can all do if we care about climate change is reduce our meat and dairy intake, particularly beef, lamb and milk.

‘[This is] much more important than not flying to Spain on your holidays or not using your car as much.

‘It’s been proven that environmentally friendly diets are good for your health and vice versa. You don’t have to give it up completely.’

Asked about the impact of milk on our health, he added: ‘We are drinking much less milk than we were in the 1970s… the evidence there is that we as adults don’t get any benefits from drinking milk. It’s fairly neutral.

‘And there is some evidence that over-drinking milk can cause problems of earlier puberty in children.’

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