The other night while watching the news, during a rare break from pharmaceutical advertising, there was a commercial for a multiple vitamin. The ad extolled the virtues of the product, and then in a little snippet that I almost missed, it quickly added language about the need to maintain a healthy, balanced diet. Later I saw another ad that never mentioned the balanced diet issue at all.
I take a multiple vitamin because I believe that it helps me go for the complete nutritional requirements for each day when I don’t always get to eat like I should – which is almost never. I don’t think I’m unlike most people on the go – eating a balanced diet is a talent, not a natural attribute.
Recently multiple vitamins have come under a greater measure of scrutiny, however, especially in relation to the claim that they help deter or prevent the onset of some chronic disease. The Wall Street Journal ran a huge story on it last month. And in May, the National Institutes of Health will sponsor a state-of-the-science conference on this very topic, which will undoubtedly garner a good deal of attention.
Manufacturers of multiple vitamins might anticipate this sooner, rather than later. Any negative spin from the consensus conference is bound to be picked up by the media and portrayed as a black and white issue – with vitamin proponents on one side and skeptics on the other. Rather than wait for that, if vitamin advertisements balanced their message a little more with information about the important role of maintaining a balanced diet more evenly today, then the news that comes out of the consensus conference might not be appear so black and white tomorrow.