Throw away your vitamins?


by Q_Goest
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Q_Goest
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Mar1-13, 11:24 AM
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An interesting article in the Feb. 2013 Scientific American reports that antioxidants used to eliminate free radicals in the body are not only ineffective at promoting health, they are likely to be detrimental! Antioxidants in the form of refined vitamin pills for example, are the focus of the paper, and not naturally occurring ones which seem to be of benefit. They show those free radicals they are trying to eliminate do in fact get eliminated but the result isn't an improvement in health, these pills have a detrimental impact on health. The article states that "… the American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association now advise that people should not take antioxidant supplements except to treat a diagnosed vitamin deficiency."

What do you think? Any other opinions on the research?
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Evo
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Mar1-13, 11:30 AM
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Quote Quote by Q_Goest View Post
An interesting article in the Feb. 2013 Scientific American reports that antioxidants used to eliminate free radicals in the body are not only ineffective at promoting health, they are likely to be detrimental! Antioxidants in the form of refined vitamin pills for example, are the focus of the paper, and not naturally occurring ones which seem to be of benefit. They show those free radicals they are trying to eliminate do in fact get eliminated but the result isn't an improvement in health, these pills have a detrimental impact on health. The article states that "… the American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association now advise that people should not take antioxidant supplements except to treat a diagnosed vitamin deficiency."

What do you think? Any other opinions on the research?
Link please.
Greg Bernhardt
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Mar1-13, 11:39 AM
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Quote Quote by Evo View Post
Link please.
It appears to be in the physical magazine.

Here is a brief online snippet of a recent related article
http://www.scientificamerican.com/ar...-of-aging-dead

For decades researchers assumed that highly reactive molecules called free radicals caused aging by damaging cells and thus undermining the functioning of tissues and organs.
Recent experiments, however, show that increases in certain free radicals in mice and worms correlate with longer life span. Indeed, in some circumstances, free radicals seem to signal cellular repair networks.
If these results are confirmed, they may suggest that taking antioxidants in the form of vitamins or other supplements can do more harm than good in otherwise healthy individuals.

Evo
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Mar1-13, 12:50 PM
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Throw away your vitamins?


It's seems from what I'm finding, that researchers have known for years that antioxidant supplements at best don't help and likely harm humans. These studies go back to 2000!!!

The American Heart Association, for one, does not recommend using antioxidant supplements "until more complete data are in," but instead, suggests "people eat a variety of foods daily from all of the basic food groups." Moreover, in April 2000, the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, an advisory group that is part of the National Academy of Sciences, reported that Vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and carotenoids like beta-carotene should come from food, not supplements. After examining available data on the beneficial and harmful health effects of antioxidants, the panel concluded that there isn't enough evidence to support using large doses of these nutrients to combat chronic diseases. In fact, the group warned that extremely high doses of antioxidants may lead to health problems, including diarrhea, bleeding, and the risk of toxic reactions.
http://health.howstuffworks.com/well...tioxidant5.htm

Systematic reviews and meta-analyses of these randomized trials have not demonstrated that β-carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E in the administered dosages lead to decreased mortality, and some analyses have suggested the possibility of increased mortality (7–11). As to vitamin C and selenium, the verdict is still out (11).

There are several possible explanations for the potential negative effect of antioxidant supplements. Reactive oxygen species in moderate concentrations are essential mediators of reactions by which the body gets rid of unwanted cells. Thus, if administration of antioxidant supplements decreases free radicals, it may interfere with essential defensive mechanisms for ridding the organism of damaged cells, including those that are precancerous and cancerous (12). Thus, antioxidant supplements may actually cause some harm (7–11,13). Our diets typically contain safe levels of vitamins, but high-level antioxidant supplements could potentially upset an important physiologic balance (7–11,13).

It is important to keep in mind that antioxidant supplements are synthetic and possess prooxidant properties as well (14). These factors could explain a possible increase in the risk of cancer (8,9,13) and cardiovascular diseases (7). Meta-analyses of randomized clinical trials have not shown that antioxidant supplements reduce cancer incidence (8,9,13,15).
http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/content/99/10/742.full

I guess it goes back to common sense, eat a well balanced diet and get your nutrients from your food.

I actually did stop taking vitamins 3 years ago and started watching my nutrient intake. I've added vegetables like kale to many of my recipes. I've thrown out the mindless "meat protein to vegetable ratio" guidelines and focus on what nutrients the food contains. Eating the right proportions of chicken, potatoes and corn everyday is not exactly a great diet, although I guess it's an improvement for some people. It's just not that healthy to base your diet on portion size, it's what goes into those portions that people need to be aware of and today's nutrition guidelines fail miserably at that.
Dotini
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Mar2-13, 06:55 AM
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Quote Quote by Evo View Post
I guess it goes back to common sense, eat a well balanced diet and get your nutrients from your food.
I agree with this.
I threw away my vitamins about 25 years ago. As a rule, I take no supplements, pills, drugs or medicines. I am 64, have all my teeth, hair, organs functioning, and have won 3 kart racing championships in the last 5 years, including one at the national level. I eat a lot of fruit, nuts and berries, walk an hour every other day and get almost 10 hours of sleep a day. I am not a vegetarian. I enjoy wine, but not to excess.

Of course my case is merely an anecdote, and everybody is a little different. Even so, good health is a great gift for which I am very grateful. I truly wish more people were healthier. The costs of health care are alarming, and money is not getting easier to come by.

Respectfully,
Steve
Q_Goest
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Mar2-13, 07:50 AM
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Quote Quote by Evo View Post
I guess it goes back to common sense, eat a well balanced diet and get your nutrients from your food.
Quote Quote by Dotini View Post
I agree with this.
I threw away my vitamins about 25 years ago.
I can certainly appreciate this sentiment, but as they say; common sense isn't so common. In fact, isn't that really what the article is about? Sorry I can't provide the entire article, but a link if you have access was provided by Greg above. If you read what's available on that link, you can read a summary:

For decades researchers assumed that highly reactive molecules called free radicals caused aging by damaging cells and thus undermining the functioning of tissues and organs.

Recent experiments, however, show that increases in certain free radicals in mice and worms correlate with longer life span. Indeed, in some circumstances, free radicals seem to signal cellular repair networks.

If these results are confirmed, they may suggest that taking antioxidants in the form of vitamins or other supplements can do more harm than good in otherwise healthy individuals.
I guess the question I have is how much? How much of a good thing (vitamins) is a bad thing? There are minimum daily requirements for vitamins, and multivitamins are intended to provide that minimum level. The common perception is that a person might get the minimum daily requirement of certain vitamins, but not others, so a multivitamin is like a shotgun that gives you the minimum daily requirement of all vitamins. Note also we always talk about the minimum as if getting more is better, or at least, not detrimental. I think most people would say that seems like common sense as well.

The question is, what exactly are the antioxidants being researched, what are 'free radicals' and how much is too much? I don't know the answer to this, but I'm sure there are folks here that must have some expertise in that area and can comment.

I brought this article to the attention of a friend who said:
Interesting article, but somewhat imprecise and over-general.
eg vitamins appear to be equated with anti-oxidants.
In fact only Vit. C has antioxidant properties and vit E to a limited extent.
The others are not anti-oxidants but have various other functions in our bodies. They are required only in the amount needed for such functions however and are therefor only recommended if the body is deficient.
Usually food supplies all we need, and food supplies not only the isomers which can be manufactured and sold in pills,but also a variety of other isomers and related compounds which are probably more suitable to our needs since this is the way our bodies have evolved to utilise them.
If you have no vitamin or antioxidant deficiencies, then pills could do more harm than good.
Vitamin D from recent studies is believed to be deficient in many people. This can be remedied naturally with sunshine, but also with food sources of vit.D (fish and/or fish oil supplements)
If, as the article claims, additional antioxidants are harmful in excess, would you expect additional free radicals to be beneficial ? I very much doubt it, unless they are of a type that the body is used to encountering ( just as it is used to encountering anti-oxidants in food). Our bodies are used to encountering stress, as in exercise and responding in ways which are beneficial but I doubt adding free radical souces as pills would be anything but harmful.
Evo
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Mar2-13, 11:44 AM
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From what I'm reading, it seems that low level antioxidant supplements do little or no good and high doses, such as the currently popular "megadose" supplements can actually increase cancer risk and reduce longevity.

Here are some links to articles that mention different studies and links to some studies.

Forget The Antioxidants? Researchers Cast Doubt On Role Of Free Radicals In Aging

An industry of "alternative" antioxidant therapies -- such as Vitamin E or CoQ10 supplements in megadose format -- has sprung up as the result of this theory. However, clinical trials have not shown that these treatments have statistically significant effects.

And now researchers at McGill University, in a study published in the February issue of the journal PLoS Genetics, are calling the entire oxidative stress theory into question. Their results show that some organisms actually live longer when their ability to clean themselves of this toxic molecule buildup is partially disabled. Collectively, these molecules are known as reactive oxygen species, or ROS for short.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0217173040.htm

Too many vitamin tablets could be bad for your health

New research shows that far from protecting us, antioxidant supplements, such as vitamins C and E, may actually increase the chance of developing cancer.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/7...ur-health.html

Free Radicals Good for You? Banned Herbicide Makes Worms Live Longer
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...1220084442.htm

HIGH DOSES OF ANTIOXIDANT SUPPLEMENTS INDUCE STEM CELL GENETIC ABNORMALITIES, POTENTIALLY LEADING TO CELLULAR CHANGES PREDISPOSING TO CANCER FORMATION, SAYS NEW CEDARS-SINAI HEART INSTITUTE STUDY
http://www.cedars-sinai.edu/About-Us...UTE-STUDY.aspx
Q_Goest
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Mar2-13, 03:29 PM
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Thanks Evo. The last link provided some recommendations that I was interested in seeing.
Marbán stressed that the study’s finding applies only to excessive nutritional supplements and not to foods that are rich in antioxidants, such as milk, oranges, blueberries and peanuts. In recent years, multiple studies have touted the benefits of foods rich in antioxidants.

“Taking one multivitamin daily is fine, but a lot of people take way too much because they think if a little is good, a lot must be better,” said Marbán, who is also the Mark Siegel Family Professor at Cedars-Sinai. “That is just not the case. If you are taking 10 or 100 times the amount in a daily multivitamin, you may be predisposing your cells to developing cancer, therefore doing yourself more harm than good.”
So basically, they are suggesting:
  • Only nutritional supplements and not excess antioxidants from food are to blame.
  • Relatively low dose (I would read that as 100% RDA) multivitamins are "fine" but 10 to 100 times RDA would be bad.
That seems to agree with the Scientific American article. Just curious now if that's consistent with other findings. It seems to be a switch from the thinking just a decade ago.
DrDu
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Apr3-13, 04:09 AM
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I got the impression that consumption of vitamin pills is one of the strange ethnologic habits peculiar of the US population almost unknown in other parts of the world.
mazinse
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Apr3-13, 06:19 PM
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Go and try some raw herbs.
bohm2
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Apr21-13, 09:20 PM
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The full article:

http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~ucbtdag/Wenner_2013.pdf
DiracPool
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Apr21-13, 10:02 PM
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Quote Quote by DrDu View Post
I got the impression that consumption of vitamin pills is one of the strange ethnologic habits peculiar of the US population almost unknown in other parts of the world.
I find it amazing that the medical science community still can't get it together to give us some sane guidance on basic usage of supplements. It seems that every few years or so, once I've got a program down I feel comfortable with, a new barrage of studies contradicts the last barrage of studies. And so the see-saw continues.

The common perception is that a person might get the minimum daily requirement of certain vitamins, but not others, so a multivitamin is like a shotgun that gives you the minimum daily requirement of all vitamins.
As Q_Goest mentions, that's basically where I've taken it. I take one multi twice a day because my diet isn't always even, and I don't want to get careless and end up with scurvy or ricketts (lol) because I wasn't reading the nutrition labels diligintly. Of course I'm exaggering a bit, but I think that's the general idea why most people take supplements. To say that "most" people for the "most" part get these nutrients from their diet doesn't make me feel so secure. Telling me I may have a higher risk for cancer by taking a supplement also doesn't make me feel so secure.

So one can see my frustration with this issue. Also to be addressed is what if you're an athlete? How does the plan change then? The gym I go to and the trainers there have very specific guidelines for weight training, cardio programs etc. Essentially all of these recommend using nutritional supplements to compensate for the added stresses on the body. Should we ignore these recommendations too. Should I tell my weight trainer I'm gonna skip the supplement recommendation and instead just eat more Kale? I don't know.
Evo
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Apr21-13, 10:21 PM
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Quote Quote by DiracPool View Post
Also to be addressed is what if you're an athlete? How does the plan change then? The gym I go to and the trainers there have very specific guidelines for weight training, cardio programs etc. Essentially all of these recommend using nutritional supplements to compensate for the added stresses on the body. Should we ignore these recommendations too. Should I tell my weight trainer I'm gonna skip the supplement recommendation and instead just eat more Kale? I don't know.
You should not be taking dietary supplements on the recommendation of a person unless they are a professional Registered Dietitian. Not even a "nutritionist" has the proper credentials to give advice.

http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/tt...arethediff.htm

Also, it is not known if supplements even work at all, due to the fact that they are isolated from the other ingredients that are found in the natural food that is missing in the supplements. There are a number of studies that discuss this. I've posted some above. There are so many caveats. What you eat together could alter the ability of the body to absorb nutrients. Iron and dairy is an issue being studied with varying results.

Does calcium interfere with iron absorption?1

Several animal studies have clearly shown that calcium interferes with dietary iron absorption and that addition of calcium to the diet may even induce iron deficiency (1, 2). Epidemiologic data also suggest that calcium interferes with iron absorption. Inan extensive study in France (n = 1108), serum ferritin Several animal studies have clearly shown that calcium inter and hemoglobin concentrations were negatively and significantly correlated with the intake of calcium (3). Similar findings were made in a study on French students (n = 476) (4). In a longitudinal study in adolescent girls, high intake of calcium was associated with a lower serum ferritin concentration (5). However, inconsistent and conflicting results have been reported even when the methods and experimental design seem to be adequate. Moreover, the same research group has sometimes reported conflicting results. For example, one group found an inhibition of iron absorption by calcium in 2 studies (6, 7) but no effect in another (8). Similarily, we reported divergent results in 2 studies
(2, 9). In this issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (10), 2 studies are presented on the effect of calcium on iron absorption with contradictory results. The question arises: Are there some special problems or pitfalls in studies on the interaction of calcium with iron absorption.
http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/68/1/3.full.pdf

If you are concerned about nutrient intake, consult a Registered Dietitian. Don't listen to some trainer whose source of information may be some magazine they read, some supplement sales person that spoke to them, or anecdotal stories they heard. Even worse if the gym you go to just happens to sell the supplements.


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