A database that tracks dubious medical claims.
Claim number: 21
Claim date: Feb. 22, 2011
Forum in which the claim was made: Advert in Cape Times
Claim methodology: Vitamins
Frequency with which the claim is made by this claimant: Unknown
Actual claim: Boosts Immune system
Plausibility of this claim: Tests showed no significant effect
The advert placed in a supplement section of the Cape Times on health claimed that BioLife's multivitamins will "certainly boost your immune system and in so doing, reduce incidence of disease." It also claims to be cost-effective at R50 per month.
It is unclear what it even means to "boost" the immune system. In some contexts this can make sense, but the immune system is extremely complex and without context, claiming to boost it is arguably meaningless.
Furthermore, very large trials of vitamin supplementation, reviewed by the Cochrane Collaboration, indicate that daily vitamin supplementation offers no benefits in otherwise healthy people. On the contrary, anti-oxidant supplements showed a small but statistically significant harmful effect.
There are cases where vitamin supplementation benefits specific groups of people, but this advert is aimed at the general public.