A new documentary featuring Yerrinbool dietician Dr Yasmine Probst, tackles the myths and marketing surrounding the global vitamin industry.
In Vitamania: The Sense and Nonsense of Vitamins, scientist and YouTube host Dr Derek Muller travels across the globe to find out the history behind the hype and discovers how vitamin supplements became a $100 billion industry in just 100 years.
Yerrinbool’s Dr Yasmine Probst, an advanced accredited practising dietician at the University of Wollongong, was called upon for her expertise in a niche area of food-related research.
“I am one of the few researchers in food composition related research that specifically looks at the different components that make up our food and beverages,” Dr Probst said.
“Vitamins aren’t regulated the same way as food. They’re classed as a ‘theraputic good’ which means it doesn’t go through the standard of scrutiny,” she said.
This lack of regulation, along with a wider lack of transparency within the vitamin industry means that vitamins sold in Australia, while they are tested for safety, aren’t tested for effectiveness.
“It is overwhelming for the average consumer to see all these vitamin products making all these big claims, but the reality is: It is surprising how few foods you need to eat to obtain all the vitamins you need,” Dr Probst said.
“People are turning to foods of convenience which generally lack nutritional content, but a balanced diet full of wholefoods and lots of different colours is all you need. There are very few circumstances where you’d need to supplement,” she said.
The feature length documentary asks people to question the health claims made when they go to buy vitamin supplements and interrogates the practices and promises made by the companies that manufacture them.
“I really hope that people keep an open mind when watching and listen to the message the documentary provides. A number of stories are explored that challenges our understanding of food and the role vitamins play in our diet,” Dr Probst said.
Vitamania: The Sense and Nonsense of Vitamins is available to stream for free on SBS On Demand.