Looking At Scientific Evidence For Nutritional Supplements in a Different Way

It’s always a kick for me when something gives me a nudge that shifts my perspective and I get to see things newly again.  I came across a site called Information Is Beautiful by David McCandless, a London-based author, writer and designer. He has an app illustrating some cool data about nutritional supplements. He’s a data cruncher with a serious urge to apply a graphic sensibility to the data. He renders  surprising and compelling new ways to absorb massive amounts of data using our large visual bandwidth.

This nifty little app lets you filter the scientific data for each supplement, sorts it by efficacy, published data, condition and a whole lot of other ways to sort the data. The data displays depend in part on how many data bases they used to source scientific studies with nutritional supplements. That can have a big impact on the data.

Most scientific journals sell their ad space to pharmaceutical companies. That means they have some editorial sway. That also means the  universe of published data for supplements is expanding and doctors never see any of it because of the big pharma bias still present in supplement research. The take away is that there are numerous studies showing how well nature set it up for us to be healthy.

In any case, it’s a lot easier to make sense out of the many benefits of good nutrition with this app  than if we took a look at pharmaceutical drugs. Pharmaceutical companies often omit the trials that show negative effects when they apply for licensing. That would skew the data set for sure.

I shudder to think what the overlays for conditions like diabetes, obesity and heart disease and the drugs for them would look like.

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