The NIH’s Skeptical View on Supplements

Executive Summary

  • The NIH has some curious things to say about nutrient supplements.
  • This article explains why the NIH says what it does.


Most of the budget of the NIH goes to approving grants that are designed to maximize the profits of pharmaceutical companies. There are strong financial connections between the NIH and the pharmaceutical industry. In this article, we review what the NIH says about nutrition supplements.

Our References for This Article

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The NIH Admits That Nutrition Supplements Can Help Health

This quote is one of the few times that an entity that is part of the medical establishment admits that supplements can help support one’s health.

Evidence does suggest that some supplements can enhance health in different ways. The most popular nutrient supplements are multivitamins, calcium and vitamins B, C and D. Calcium supports bone health, and vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. Vitamins C and E are antioxidants—molecules that prevent cell damage and help to maintain health.

Research suggests that fish oil can promote heart health. Of the supplements not derived from vitamins and minerals, Hopp says, “fish oil probably has the most scientific evidence to support its use.”

The health effects of some other common supplements need more study. These include glucosamine (for joint pain) and herbal supplements such as echinacea (immune health) and flaxseed oil (digestion).

Many supplements have mild effects with few risks. But use caution. Vitamin K, for example, will reduce the ability of blood thinners to work. Ginkgo can increase blood thinning. The herb St. John’s wort is sometimes used to ease depression, anxiety or nerve pain, but it can also speed the breakdown of many drugs—such as antidepressants and birth control pills—and make them less effective.  – NIH

Some of these quotes are some of the most positive of any on the website of any health authority. However, the NIH makes a false statement when it comes to the dosage recommendation.

I cover in the article Why Some Natural Supplements are Treatments Against Covid that the likely reason several supplements are effective against covid is that they rectify deficiencies and thus allow the immune system to function correctly.

However, observe the strange thing that the NIH has to say on this topic.

People require several vitamins and minerals—including vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc—for proper immune function, and clinical deficiencies of these nutrients can increase susceptibility to infections [14,19]. Other dietary supplement ingredients, such as botanicals and probiotics, do not have essential roles in the body, but they might affect immune function. However, measuring the impact on the immune system of vitamins, minerals, and other dietary supplement ingredients is difficult because the immune system is a complex network of organs, tissues, and cells; no single, straightforward measure of immune system function and resistance to disease exists.

This is curious because many vitamins and minerals work regarding the immune system is far better understood than how many vaccines work in the body.

The immune system is incredibly complicated, and much of what the vaccine industry does is exaggerate how much they understand about the immune system. And furthermore, vaccines are well established to interfere with and often damage immune systems. But the NIH considers all of them as safe and do not bring up this interaction.

However, what is curious is that the NIH does not bring up the immune system’s complexity when it comes to how they interact with vaccines but brings up the complexity of the immune system when it comes to how they interact with vitamins and minerals. The article How Safe Are the Covid Vaccines addresses that the vaccines cause long-term inflammation and disrupt the immune system. This is something that not only the covid vaccines do, but other vaccines do as well. Just the covid vaccine, which promotes the body to create spike proteins, illustrates how experimental many vaccines are.

However, the NIH states that the vaccines are safe and effective. Yet, in the article How Safe Are The Covid Vaccines Versus Ivermectin and Remdesivir, I show, using the WHO’s adverse reaction reporting system that the covid vaccines have roughly 22 times more adverse events than Ivermectin.

The Recommended Daily Allowances

For vitamins and minerals, check the % Daily Value (DV) for each nutrient to make sure you’re not getting too much. “It’s important to consider the DV and upper limit,” says Haggans. Too much of certain supplements can be harmful.

This is incorrect as the FDA is highly anti-supplements and does not update its RDAs with research into supplements.

The NIH on Supplements and Covid

The NIH’s advice on supplements and covid is also inferior.

Currently, data are insufficient to support recommendations for or against the use of any vitamin, mineral, herb or other botanical, fatty acid, or other dietary supplement ingredient to prevent or treat COVID-19

Treatments for Covid: An Embarrassing Fact for the American Cancer Society

The following screenshots are from the website C19 Early, which tracks treatments for covid. Note the treatment name and then the improvement versus covid right next to it. The following significant value is the number of studies performed.

Some of the best treatments for covid were not drugs, but vitamins and minerals. The best drug treatment for covid is Ivermectin, a drug that is not approved to treat covid and which the medical establishment has done everything to undermine. 

How can the NIH make this claim regarding supplements with the presented evidence? It is almost as if the NIH thinks that this claim cannot be disproven through other sources.

The NIH on Omega 3 Fatty Acids

The NIH covers many nutrition supplements, and their coverage of Omega 3s is an excellent example of their coverage of supplements generally.

Omega-3s play important roles as components of the phospholipids that form the structures of cell membranes [149]. Omega-3s also form eicosanoids; these signaling molecules affect the body’s cardiovascular, pulmonary, immune, and endocrine systems [149,150]. Omega-6 fatty acids, the other major class of polyunsaturated fatty acids, also form eicosanoids, and these eicosanoids are generally more potent mediators of inflammation, vasoconstriction, and platelet aggregation than those made from omega-3s. Thus, higher concentrations of omega-3s than of omega-6s tip the eicosanoid balance toward less inflammatory activity [151,152].

Whether higher intakes or blood levels of omega-3s reduce the risk or severity of COVID-19 is not known. However, self-reported use of omega-3 supplements (dose not reported) more than three times per week for at least 3 months among 372,720 U.K. residents aged 16 to 90 years was associated with a 12% lower risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection after adjustment for potential confounders [156]. Findings were similar for 45,757 individuals in the United States and for 27,373 participants in Sweden.

Omega 3s and Omega 6s are two of the most essential supplements as it is so difficult to obtain this from a diet. Long-chain fatty acid fats have been mostly removed from modern western diets.

According to the NIH, Omega 3 is one of the most commonly taken supplements.

Overall, the way this entry is written is very typical of the coverage of the NIH, which is that they tend to acknowledge some potential benefits of some nutrient supplements. Still, they also state that the benefits are generally unknown.

The NIH Sends People to MDs for Supplement Advice

Consult your healthcare provider before taking dietary supplements to treat a health condition.

Get your healthcare provider’s approval before taking dietary supplements in place of, or in combination with, prescribed medicines.

If you are scheduled to have any type of surgical procedure, talk with your healthcare provider about any supplements you take.

“You should discuss with your doctor what supplements you’re taking so your care can be integrated and managed,” advises Dr. Craig Hopp, an expert in botanicals research at NIH.

This is a common statement by entities that are part of the medical establishment, and this is because it presupposes that the MD is an expert in nutrition and supplementation. However, MDs are trained by pharmaceutical companies to de-emphasize supplements and even diet. I cover this in the article Why Health Authorities Position MDs, Nurses and Pharmacists as Experts in Nutrition.

On the Topic of Nutrient Deficiency

The topic of nutrient deficiency is so important and connects to so many different areas of medical advice from health authorities that I have centralized this topic to an article, which is The Reality But Ignored Topic of Widespread Nutrient Deficiency. However, this nutrient deficiency is well established.


Of all of the websites that are part of the establishment medical system, the NIH is the most accurate and the most positive regarding nutrition supplements. However, they have a number of statements around supplements that are incorrect and I was able to contradict several of the NIH’s claims. The NIH’s view of the relative risks of the covid vaccines versus nutrition supplements, implying that the covid vaccines, which have an enormous number of adverse reactions that are documented at the WHO are safer than nutrition supplements illustrate the NIH’s very strong bias in favor of pharmaceuticals.