Myth 4: Structure/Function Claims are Backed By Solid Science
The Truth: Structure/function claims (e.g., “Zinc helps maintain immunity”) describe what an ingredient is intended to do in the body. Often, the research behind the claim has no scientific consensus. (Look closely: packages with structure/function claims must also bear the disclaimer, “This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”) “Claim-featured” nutrients sometimes are included purely for marketing.
Example: Research on phytochemicals (such as lycopene) is still new, and their potential benefits poorly understood. Yet “manufacturers will throw in just a tiny bit,” says Cooperman. “If consumers have heard of an ingredient, they assume it has some value.” “Premium” ingredients can mean the difference between charging $50, versus $8, for a bottle of multivitamins.
The Bottom Line: Watch out for “buzz word” nutrients and claims that appear too good to be true.