Saturday, November 26, 2011

Are Nutritional Supplements Killing You?

I imagine a lot of people read this article on Yahoo! And thought “Should I quit taking supplements? Is he crazy?!” What is not stated is the publishing date of the “study from the Archives of Internal Medicine. Maybe it was published in 1922. There is no doubt that the vitamin and supplement business is in the tens of billions of annual sales. But there is a doubt as to what good supplements do for people. When the vast majority of supplements sold in store fronts and some through direct sales are food grade and do not have any guarantees as to their potency, purity, bio-availability or dissolution there is certainly reason to believe that studies can conclude supplements as a whole either don’t do a person any good or are actually harmful.

Anyway, make up your own mind…here is the article:

Should You Quit Taking Vitamins?
By Bill Phillips and the Editors of Men's Health, 24 Oct 2011

I'm a big fan of vitamins. And judging by the size of the vitamin and supplement industry—$20 billion in annual sales, a quarter of that in multivitamins—so are you. Pop one pill and you get a day’s worth of nutrients. What’s not to love?

Well, there is this: A recent study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that taking multivitamins and other supplements may actually shorten your life. Uh-oh.

Researchers in the study collected information from nearly 40,000 women (but say the findings apply to men too) several times over 22 years. They asked about all sorts of health issues, including vitamin and supplement use. After reconciling this data with health and death records, researchers identified seven supplements that actually seem to hasten death: vitamin B6, folic acid, iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, and your innocent-looking multivitamin. The increase in mortality rate ranged from 2.2 percent (multivitamins) to a whopping 18 percent (copper).

All of which begs the question: Should you quit taking your vitamins? Well, I’m not going to quit—and you shouldn’t either. Here’s why:

MyAchingKnees comment: I’m not going to quit taking supplements either. But I know the quality of the nutrients I take. Do you?

1. The Study Was Observational.

This means that researchers followed a group of people over time, but didn’t test the supplement group against a placebo group. Although researchers did carefully control for factors such as age, diabetes, physical activity, high blood pressure, and a few dietary habits, even they say the findings should be interpreted with caution. There may be factors they didn’t account for that skewed the results, admits lead author Jaakko Mursu, Ph.D., of the University of Eastern Finland and the University of Minnesota.

2. The Study Followed a Group of Older Women.

Average age: 62. That’s not quite a representative sample of the population. Plus, it’s been well established that iron supplements increase the risk of heart disease in post-menopausal women (which is why there’s no iron in Centrum Silver and other multi’s formulated for older adults). And copper—which can be toxic in large amounts—is prevalent in many natural foods, such as vegetables and nuts, so few people need large doses of supplementation.

MyAchingKnees comment: Centrum Silver? Does anyone really take that? Iron, at least in several tableted forms, interferes with the absorption of other nutrients. Hence the need to get the majority of what you need via foods.

3. People Who Take Vitamins Generally Make Poorer Health Choices.

A study in Psychological Science earlier this year found that the perceived benefits of multivitamins may cause many people to cheat on their diets and workout routines. “Taking dietary supplements increases perceived invulnerability,” Wen-Bin Chiou, Ph.D., a professor at National Sun Yat-Sen University and author of the study, told Men's Health. In other words: It’s not the vitamins that are harmful; it’s the life choices people make while taking vitamins. So, you know, don’t do that.

MyAchingKnees comment: Well, you are partially right. Supplements are necessary since you cannot get the amount of nutrients you need for optimal health with today’s food supply,…..and you must make lifestyle changes such as avoiding the bad foods and consuming the better foods; avoiding toxins that are so prevalent in today’s environment; and, get some type of physical exercise.

4. Scores of Studies Have Found Benefits to Certain Vitamins and Supplements.

“In my mind, there's no question that low levels of vitamin D are associated with heart disease and many other issues including obesity and type 2 diabetes. I recommend it routinely and have for years,” says Robert Tozzi, M.D., chief of pediatric cardiology at the Hackensack University Medical Center . While your body produces vitamin D from sun exposure—and you consume it in certain foods—roughly one-third of Americans don’t have sufficient levels. (Mursu’s study found that vitamin D supplementation had no effect on total mortality.)

The American Heart Association recommends eating three servings of omega 3–rich fish per week, but how many of us meet that lofty goal? That’s why many experts recommend supplements. Studies show that men with the highest omega-3 levels, whether it's from natural sources or supplements, have the lowest risk of dying of heart disease. In fact, when researchers in Italy gave 2,800 heart-attack survivors 1 g fish oil a day, they found that the supplement reduced their risk of dying of heart disease by 30 percent and of sudden cardiac death by 45 percent, compared with those who didn't supplement their diets. That's pretty compelling evidence.

MyAchingKnees comment: Absolutely Omega 3 Fatty Acids are a hidden secret. The benefits are robust, carrying over not just for cardiac health, as a cholesterol fighter, but for joint health and brain energy and connectivity as well. Just be aware that low quality Omega 3 supplements are reported to have the highest levels of toxins such as PCB's, Dioxins and Mercury.  Before I took any off the shelf, food grade Omega 3 supplement, I would use whole foods high in Omega 3's, such as quality Olive Oil, flax seed and meal, and almonds.  

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  1. it is nice blog and thanks for explain about the vitamins and supplement industry....
    Nutritional Supplements