Archive for Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Vitamins may harm, not help, your health

May 6, 2008


Are you tempted to pop vitamins to cover the nutritional bases? Then you may want to consider this: A new analysis of 67 studies concludes that taking dietary supplements not only didn't cut death rates but in some cases could actually have hiked them.

The new findings come from the prestigious Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization based in Britain that evaluates medical research. The scientific rigor of studies can vary, so Cochrane evaluated only randomized studies, considered one of the gold standards of research. A couple of hundred thousand people participated in the studies, which, the new analysis concluded, "found no evidence to support antioxidant supplements for primary or secondary prevention" of death. Taking vitamins A, E and beta carotene "may increase mortality," the study also found.

But Andrew Shao, vice president, scientific and regulatory affairs, for the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), a trade association for the dietary supplement industry, said that "antioxidant supplements are certainly not meant to be magic bullets and should not realistically be expected to undo a lifetime of unhealthy habits. However, when used properly, in combination with eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise, not smoking ... antioxidant supplements can play an important role in maintaining and promoting overall health."

Until scientists sort it out, here's the good news: Studies to date have not found adverse effects from getting these or other antioxidants from food - just one more reason to eat smart. Pass those carrots and avocados, please.


jafs 10 years ago

Yes, and if you follow the "take a pill" philosophy of our medical culture, you may decide to make no changes to your diet or lifestyle.

QuestionMarcus 10 years ago

Is it possible that you are more likely to take vitamins if you already have health issues?

Lindsey Buscher 10 years ago

Meaningless blather? What? In this country where unhealthy eating habits lead to obesity which gives life to diet crazes and quick fixes? This is the type of news that people need to be reading, not the latest Trendy Diet New York Times Best Seller book.Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet...these are lessons that are preached to many people as children but forgotten in adulthood. Get your vitamins (not supplements), protein (not bacon), fiber (not powder), and fat (not fish oil) from natural (not necessarily organic) minimally processed food. For instance, the vitamin C from an orange is better for the body than the vitamin C from store bought juice from concentrate.Come on, this isn't meaningless blather, this is what people need to internalize. Who hasn't heard this same speech from a physician or a dietitian?

gr 10 years ago

""found no evidence to support antioxidant supplements for primary or secondary prevention" of death."News to me that people take vitamins to prevent death...Too bad the article to mention anything about giving better health, or not, while they were alive.What would be interesting is to compare death rates or health of those taking vitamins with those taking over the counter drugs or prescription drugs. I bet that would be very interesting.I think jafs and Puggy hit it right. Taking a pill, thinking that will help, does nothing (other than mind games). Getting your nutrition from food minimally processed is best.But, when your doctor says what you eat doesn't affect your health and when people think doctors are experts and blindly do or take what they give them, well.... we see the results.

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