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A handful of Cod Liver oil tablets. 
A handful of Cod Liver oil tablets. 

VAT on supplements could be positive – GP

THE new VAT hike on food supplements, vitamins, and minerals is a positive step if it discourages “charlatan-like” practices, according to a Cork GP.

The health food industry has been up in arms over a proposed VAT increase from 0% to 23%, which is due to come into effect from March 1, 2019. However, Cork GP Dr Nick Flynn said that it is very unlikely that patients will be disadvantaged.

Campaigners outside the gates of the Dáil who are against the increase of the VAT on food supplements. Photo: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie
Campaigners outside the gates of the Dáil who are against the increase of the VAT on food supplements. Photo: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

“People who will be disadvantaged the most will be the people who sell them,” he told the Echo.

“I think it’s very unlikely that patients will actually be disadvantaged as there’s no evidence to suggest that a healthy individual taking multivitamins will see their health improve or see the benefits,” he added.

Dr Flynn explained that unless a person has a vitamin deficiency or illness such as Crohn’s disease, and are advised by a doctor to take vitamins, they will see no benefits.

“Blindly going into health food shops, buying herbs, vitamins and minerals should be discouraged, I think,” he said.

“If the new VAT rate discourages this practice, I actually think people will be better off.

“People would be better served adopting a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and veg and getting regular exercise,” he added.

“It’s far more beneficial than taking multivitamins, a lot of which passes through the gut unabsorbed.

“Even if some is absorbed, there’s no proof of any health benefits. There’s no proof that anybody is healthier or lives longer from the random consumption of these multivitamins.”

Dr Flynn said he was shocked to hear health shop owners claiming that more people will end up in their GPs office as a result of the VAT increase.

“That is charlatan stuff to be honest, it’s modern-day snake oil,” he said.