The “Evidence” for Prodovite Is Junk Science

Prodovite is a liquid nutritional supplement marketed as “nutrition you can feel.” The claims are pseudoscientific nonsense and the single unblinded clinical study is junk science that relies on a bogus test: live cell microscopy.

I recently got an email asking:

What are your thoughts on this supplement? It seems to be a very good one.
Have you ever researched Prodovite, it does have a published IRB Clinical Study.

I immediately had questions: “Good compared to what? Good for what?” I couldn’t find any answers. They claim it is better absorbed; so what? They claim “Prodovite can help restore the ability to use oxygen and water to make energy, manage that energy, and then have enough strength to eliminate the garbage.” But there is no evidence that we lack that ability or need help to restore it, or that Prodovite can restore anything. Anyway, so what? Are there real-world clinical consequences? Does it affect the way people feel and perform? Does it change health outcomes? Are there measurable changes and if so, are they just changes in lab tests or is there Patient Oriented Evidence that Matters (POEMS)? It’s all very nebulous, and it carries the usual FDA disclaimer that it is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

I read the “published IRB Clinical Study”. It is an appalling example of junk science.

What is Prodovite?

Prodovite is “a distinctively unique and superior liquid vitamin, mineral, and plant phytonutrient complex”. The scientific code is VMP35: Vitamin, Mineral, Phytonutrient, with “35 macro ingredients providing hundreds of microingredients.” It includes ingredients similar to those in other vitamin/mineral supplements plus things like inositol and white pine cone extract; but the essential ingredient is an herbal blend whose ingredients are listed here. They claim that “without micronutrients, or nutrients that isn’t [sic] processed on a macro level, we cannot function to our maximum capacity and will eventually end up shortening our life if we don’t get these essential micronutrients.” Says who? There’s no evidence for that claim.

They explain their technology: Only premium quality ingredients are used. They are predigested to get small uniform particle sizes that the body can utilize. They are put into a phospholipid capsule, forming a liposome, with clusters of up to 100 layers of liposomes inside other liposomes. They say all the tissues of the digestive system, from the mouth to the colon, LOVE phospholipids. (What?)

They say when you put it in your mouth and swish it around, it absorbs rapidly into the blood vessels under the tongue. What doesn’t get absorbed in the mouth passes on through the digestive tract and the particles adhere to the intestinal wall and begin to degrade and release nutrients and phospholipids into the blood stream so you get rapid and sustained absorption over a prolonged period of time. (How long? They mention 30 minutes, but what happens after that? Do you need to repeat the dose every 30 minutes?) They brag that their product is unlike any other product on the market

It is “nutrition you can feel”. It will change the quality of your life.

They have a Webinar on “Why You Need Prodovite”. It claims “the number one health malady in our culture is digestive problems.” (Really? I don’t think so!) It describes the published study, and demonstrates how Prodovite lights a 15 watt bulb. (What’s that supposed to prove?)

They say their phospholipids are treated with Energy Frequency Imprinting. (Energy Frequency Imprinting? What nonsense!) They describe a one of a kind exothermic reaction: the temperature rises to 98.6 and supposedly stops exactly at normal body temperature. (I find that hard to believe!)

They claim Prodovite is necessary for all of us because we have a reduced ability to use oxygen and water (and just how do they know this?). They provide a long list of resulting symptoms and diseases including restless legs, muscle twitches, bone spurs, osteoporosis, kidney stones, periodontal disease, depression, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and much more. Of course, this is all nonsense. They say these are also signs of acidosis. (No, they aren’t!) They say, “We don’t treat diseases, we give the body the resources it needs to rejuvenate and revitalize cellular metabolism”.

Their rampant pseudoscientific bullshit made it painful for me to watch the videos and read the claims on their website. They even quote the Bible. They say a picture shows “dead rotting red blood cells that are poisoning the patient”. But then the follow-up picture supposedly shows them restored to life. They refer to a structure larger than a blood cell as a “molecule”. They provide testimonials: a legally blind man’s sight was restored to where he got his driver’s license back. A foot amputation for a diabetic ulcer was prevented, and the ulcer healed completely. A weight lifter increased his squat lifting performance from 395 to 575 pounds.

The published study

There is only one published study. You can read it for yourself. It is not listed in PubMed, but I found it through Google Scholar. It was published in the journal Functional Foods in Health & Diseasenearly four years ago, in September 2015. The title is “The effect of VMP35 supplement ingredients encapsulated in a novel Phospholipid Prodosome SK713 SLP nutrient delivery technology observed as a result of changes in properties of live human blood”.

38 subjects were recruited at random. They underwent live blood cell imaging before and 5 minutes after ingesting Prodovite. They served as their own controls, using bottled water for comparison. The “before” images were all abnormal (does that mean it’s normal to be abnormal?) There was no blinding. The authors interpreted changes in live blood cell observations before and after taking Prodovite as proof that the nutraceuticals were rapidly and effectively delivered into the blood. They called it “an important contribution towards increasing the potential benefits of dietary supplements”. These conclusions were not warranted by the data.

No blinding!? Blinding is essential to prevent bias. In this case, the subjects could tell whether they were getting Prodovite or bottled water, and the microscopists knew what they hoped to see and could deliberately or unconsciously manipulate their observations to produce the desired findings.

There were conflicts of interest: 3 of the authors had ownership interest in Victory Nutrition International, the manufacturer of Prodovite. Another author’s wife was an independent representative of Victory Nutrition.

They make a big deal of having gotten IRB approval for their study. They think it was an unprecedented accomplishment for a nutraceutical. Actually, everyclinical study must get IRB approval to protect human subjects. They describe the time and expense involved, and the steps involved in getting a study published (As if understanding their difficulties would persuade people to believe their results!). They pride themselves on establishing a formal protocol for live blood cell analysis but the protocol is useless because it doesn’t include blinding. They assumed it was a valid test. (It isn’t. See below.) They did nothing to evaluate its validity.

A video interprets the live cell microscopy findings in the study. It claims the red blood cells are aggregating because they have lost their negative charge and the white blood cells are a quarter the size they should be, “probably because of the cell aggregation somehow affecting circulation, directly or indirectly affecting immune [sic]”.

5 minutes after taking Prodovite, they say the negative charge has been restored, the red blood cells are flowing freely, no longer aggregated, and the white blood cells are 4 times bigger. (How on earth could circulating white blood cells get 4 times bigger in 5 minutes?!!)

Live blood cell analysis is sheer bunkum

According to Stephen Barrett’s analysis on Quackwatch the claims for live cell analysis are “sheer bunkum.” Naive observers misinterpret artifacts that occur as the blood sample dries, they fail to clean slides and interpret the residual dirt as blood components, and they fail to properly focus the microscope and misinterpret out-of-focus observations. The “improvements” they see are likely due to examining the slides differently. “Blood dries more quickly near the edges of the slide than near the center. Thus ‘improvement’ will be seen if the first specimen is examined near an edge and the second specimen is examined near its center.” Stephen Barrett tested it: he faked taking the pills they gave him; and sure enough, his second specimen showed the “improvement” that they predicted from the pills. Regulators have deemed live blood cell analysis fraudulent and of no discernable value. There is a good article debunking it on the Committee for Skeptical Inquirer website. Mark Crislip critiqued it on Science-Based Medicine in 2009. Wikipedia and Edzard Ernst explain that there is no evidence that it is reliable or effective; they call it fraudulent. Even Andrew Weil rejects it.

Conclusion: Prodovite is a good example of bad science

The claims for Prodovite are nothing but speculation, wishful thinking, self-deception, placebo responses, and junk science. The one published study is a travesty; live blood cell analysis is a bogus test that cannot provide “evidence”. Publishing the study was a mistake; doing the study in the first place was a mistake.

Selling Prodovite benefits the company, but I see no reason to think it benefits the health of customers.

There is no way to know whether it is safe and effective, because it has never been properly tested. Maybe it works to improve the health of at least some patients in some situations. I will be happy to follow the evidence wherever it leads, but the company will have to provide some real evidence, not just junk science. After perusing their website, I am not optimistic about their ability to do that, and I’m not going to hold my breath.

This article was originally published in the Science-Based Medicine Blog.

Dr. Hall is a contributing editor to both Skeptic magazine and the Skeptical Inquirer. She is a weekly contributor to the Science-Based Medicine blog and is one of its editors. She has also contributed to Quackwatch and to a number of other respected journals and publications. She is the author of Women Aren’t Supposed to Fly: The Memoirs of a Female Flight Surgeon and co-author of the textbook, Consumer Health: A Guide to Intelligent Decisions.