Do Vitamin Patches Actually Work?

By Karen D’Souza
Mercury News

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) The FDA does not regulate supplements (pills or patches) so doctors and other health experts warn that it pays to be wary of vitamin patches.

Mercury News

In an era obsessed with quick fixes, many people are looking for an easy way to boost their wellness.

One of the hottest trends out there right now is vitamin patches. They’re right up there with charcoal and acai.

Slap on one of these puppies and you don’t have to worry about eating your greens, or so the marketing implies.

As the Washington Post reports, transdermal vitamin patches have flooded the market, with companies selling high-end cocktails of “supplements” that promise to help with acne, insomnia, poor focus, premenstrual syndrome, hangovers, weight gain and stress. “Just apply a single patch and get instant and lasting results all night long,” says the marketing language that accompanies PatchMD’s “Menopause Night Relief” patch. PatchMD also sells an autism “focus bundle,” for example.

The rub is that the FDA does not regulate supplements (pills or patches) so doctors and other health experts warn that it pays to be wary.

“FDA is aware that some transdermal vitamin patches are being falsely marketed as dietary supplements; the agency considers this action to be health fraud,” Jeremy Kahn, an FDA spokesman told the Post. “Generally, FDA considers any patch product that is promoted as a dietary supplement to be an unapproved new drug and a misbranded drug.”

“My message for the public is ‘buyer beware.’ The evidence for nutrient absorption through the skin barrier is very limited, and many of the health-related claims are unsubstantiated. The companies need to provide proof for the claims,” JoAnn Manson, a physician, chief of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard professor, told the Post. “I would ask the companies to ‘show me the data’ — show me evidence that absorption is effective and blood levels of these vitamins and minerals increase appropriately.”

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