Why are vitamins and supplements not covered like medicine?


Why are vitamins and supplements not covered like medicine?

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The stuff you buy online or at the grocery store don’t actually claim to have any specific medical benefit. “Healthy” or “good for heart/brain/liver health” or “2000% of recommended daily value” are not medical claims, and they are very carefully chosen to *not* be medical claims but to still sound good to the buyer.

If a vitamin/supplement ever claimed to actually have a specific medical effect, then it would need to be authorized by the FDA or similar organization, which means it needs to be run through clinical trials to see if it actually gives that specific benefit.

So this is different in different places im sure, but a lot of vitamins minerals and supplements are covered under the same prescription medicine benefits as drugs are here in Australia.

This includes – iron supplements, magnesium, b12, vitamin d, some specialised baby formulas, nutritional support supplements for people on restrictive medically necessary diets, and I’m sure some others im missing.

There are restrictions on who can get them, mainly requiring that your levels actually be low (a lot of folks supplement with normal levels and the government doesn’t want to pay for that because it doesn’t have clear medical benefit), and some are restricted to certain groups (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people) as they get an extra discount on medicines and for other folks the stuff is cheap enough that the price is already lower than the government subsidy price.

TLDR – in a lot of countries at least some are paid for, but the group subsidising it generally sets out rules to make sure they’re getting value for money (ie that its needed and useful).

Because they would need to state that the product has a specific medical benefit, and then be able to actually prove it by passing FDA trials.

The following article is a few years old but is still very accurate.


Millions of dollars in lobbying to get their products excluded from strict regulation. The two senators who sponsored the bill both received large donations from the supplement lobby and they’ve been keeping the gears greased enough to keep the regulators away. Not that expensive for an field that doesn’t get the attention it really deserves.