Most of the bog standard vitamins you see for sale in the health shops and in the weekend newspapers are pretty ineffective - usually because the dosages are far below anything that would make any difference.
Fortunately, people in the know - such as the typical WDDTY E-news reader - have always been able to buy high-dose vitamins and supplements that might actually do some good, especially if they live in countries such as the UK, Sweden, the Netherlands and Ireland.
But this choice may soon be taken away. The EU has put forward its proposals on what it feels are the "safe upper limits" for vitamin supplementation - and, not surprisingly, they are laughably low.
If its proposals are allowed to go ahead, the amount of beta-carotene you could buy would be equivalent to that found in two carrots, while selenium would be restricted to the amount found in two brazil nuts.
The Alliance for Natural Health (ANH), which has been fighting the EU's relentless campaign against the nutritional industry since 2002, says the proposals are based on selective, and poor, science. Fundamentally, it goes too far in protecting the public against something that is harmless, and potentially beneficial.
"If the EU Commission really believed these doses might be the highest safe doses, why aren't they screaming for warning labels to be put on bags of carrots and brazil nuts?" asks Dr Robert Verkerk, the ANH's scientific director.
The proposals could be implemented as early as 2009 under the Food Supplements Directive and Fortified Foods Regulation.
(Source: ANH press release, October 24, 2007).