Vitamin Category Struggles with Disappointing News

The New York Times recently recapped a slew of bad news for vitamin manufacturers. 


Vitamin E has been plagued by disappointing clinical trials and negative media for the better part of the last decade. In 1999, U.S. consumers spent $868 million on Vitamin E supplements, according to NBJ estimates. In 2007, that number dropped to $391 million. Many of the studies cited in the NYT piece can be directly tied to the precipitous decline of the vitamin E category.

Most recently, a clinical trial of 15,000 doctors has shown that taking vitamins C and E for up to ten years had no effect on cancer rates. Another recent study of more than 14,000 doctors found that taking vitamins C and E had no effect on heart disease.

A third study of more than 35,000 men taking selenium and vitamin E ended after researchers raised concerns that the treatments may cause more harm to prostate health than it does good. The National Cancer Institute found that slightly more of the vitamin E users were getting prostate cancer, and slightly more selenium-only users were being diagnosed with diabetes.

While Vitamin E sales were down again in 2007, the decline was less severe than in previous years (4%). Optimists in the industry hope that the category might be finally turning the corner and approaching positive growth once again. That may be far-fetched now, as recent clinical trials have failed to produce positive momentum for vitamin E.

If you are an NBJ subscriber and would like to read more of NBJ’s coverage of the vitamin supplement market, click the following:

Vitamin E, Selenium May Not Help Prevent Cancer
Study Deals a Second Blow to Vitamin E and C
Has Vitamin E Turned the Corner?

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