General Question

rojo's avatar

Why would you sell a supplement that provided way above the minimum daily requirement?

Asked by rojo (14589 points ) February 11th, 2013

In the store this weekend and noticed that a Zinc supplement said it provided 333% of the minimum daily requirement.
Why would you do this? Why not make the pills ⅓ the size and only offer 111%? You can still sell them 100 to a bottle even if they are smaller. What would be the thinking in such overkill? Is it just the American mindset in “more is better”?

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16 Answers

Judi's avatar

Because people don’t trust thr RDA numbers. These are the same people who gave us the disaster that was the food pyramid.

elbanditoroso's avatar

The minimum is just a minimum. That is, the smallest amount that is suggested for a diet.

But facts show that in many cases, a larger amount of a mineral or vitamin has increasingly positive effects, up to a maximum of course.

For example, vitamin C intake (minimum RDA) is 90mg for a male over 19. But there is plenty of evidence that additional vitamin C (200–300% of the minimum) is good a staving off the effects of a cold.

The same is true for almost every vitamin.

And as @judi said, the RDA is in fact an average – any every person is different. A 130 lb. woman will have different vitamin and mineral needs that a 250-lb. male.

rojo's avatar

@Judi . @elbanditoroso thanks.
I still have questions regarding this practice. If you have one that provides 100% and you want more, you could just take more. As I understand it, with minerals and vitamins, if you take in more than you neeed, you just piss out the extra so I guess it would be hard to overdose with any of it.

Mariah's avatar

You don’t absorb all of the nutrients in a supplement. Sometimes the excess is there because the absorption rate is low.

DrBill's avatar

Some people have a deficiency and need more than the the daily minimum, or those with digestive problems need several times the minimum just to absorb the minimum.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@rojo, with regards to your comment about pissing away the excess—

In general, that’s true. But there are some vitamins and minerals that – in excess – will cause problems. I’m not an expert so I won’t presume to tell you what they are -see the following for an article: http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/effects-of-taking-too-many-vitamins

But let me give you an example. Everyone should have a certain amount of Iron in their diet. Males over 50 need 8–10 mg.

But if you take too much iron, you may be more likely to constipate… and that creates its own set of problems, most unpleasant.

So – people have to be careful to take enough but not too much.

Unbroken's avatar

Well what everyone else said and then look up comparison charts for pill absorbtion and efficacy of multivitamins.

Centrum and One a Day are the worst. For the most part they pass through your system unaltered.

Rarebear's avatar

Profit motive.

Mariah's avatar

@rosehips I tried looking but couldn’t find what you’re talking about. I’m interested though – do you have a link where I can find this info? I take a Centrum multivitamin, but a chewable one – I thought this would help absorption. My absorption rates are inherently low due to a condition.

rojo's avatar

@Rarebear Would profit be the motive if you could make 3x the pills with the same amount of material?

Rarebear's avatar

No the whole supplement industry is purely a profit driven industry. 27 billion dollars according to CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/04/13/supplements.dietary/index.html

And this is an industry that thrives on false claims of efficacy and poor science.

RocketGuy's avatar

But 333% is AWESOME! I would worry about overdosing on them, though. Too much can be as bad as too little.

Unbroken's avatar

@Mariah I am on my phone and can’t do a link I can give you one site.

@www.multivitaminguide.org

There are essentially 4 ways they are tested. Quality standards, bioavailability, synergy and I can’t remember the other. Centrum rates pretty low.

As far as chewables being more absorbable, maybe to a degree but if the synergy and recommended amounts aren’t met then what are you absorbing?

Unbroken's avatar

Ok here it is.

Rarebear's avatar

@RocketGuy Some vitamins it’s not a big deal to take a big dose. The water soluble ones like Vitamin C for example have an extremely large safety profile. The fat soluble ones, such as Vitamin A and E, however, are a different story as they can cause hepatotoxicity. That said, there is sketchy evidence to show that taking vitamins makes any difference in normal healthy people who eat a well balanced diet.

Don’t get me wrong. I would LOVE to see studies showing that vitamins improve outcome. I was thrilled when a study came out in the New England Journal of Medicine showing that Vitamin E helps nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, and I now use it. But good studies like that are far outweighed by the either the crappy studies, or the negative effect studies.

Mariah's avatar

Thank you @rosehips. I wish they had included chewable vitamins in there. I do think the increased surface area from chewing probably helps with absorption. That’s what I like to think, anyhow.

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