How many of your health supplements are actually snake oil?

Illustration for article titled How many of your health supplements are actually snake oil?

Recent studies have shown that many vitamins and supplements do little for our health and are a waste of money. This chart will make it abundantly clear how true that is.


In this brilliant chart by David McCandless from 2010, you can see a gorgeous visualization of how many supplements are actually helpful — based on scientific studies — and how many are basically nothing more than snake oil.

McCandless, writing on Information is Beautiful, explains:

This image is a "balloon race". The higher a bubble, the greater the evidence for its effectiveness. But the supplements are only effective for the conditions listed inside the bubble.

You might also see multiple bubbles for certain supps. These is because some supps affect a range of conditions, but the evidence quality varies from condition to condition. For example, there's strong evidence that Green Tea is good for cholesterol levels. But evidence for its anti-cancer effects is conflicting. In these cases, we give a supp another bubble.

via Information is Beautiful (h/t Nicholas Thompson)



Before folks chime in "it can't hurt". Yes. Yes. it can. Always talk to your Doctor AND Pharmacist before taking any kind of dietary supplements. There are sometimes dangerous reactions that can happen when two drugs are taken together and all drugs, even the "Natural" and "Herbal" kind can have side effects.