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Medical Throw away your vitamins?

  1. Mar 1, 2013 #1


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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?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 1, 2013 #2


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    Link please.
  4. Mar 1, 2013 #3
    It appears to be in the physical magazine.

    Here is a brief online snippet of a recent related article

  5. Mar 1, 2013 #4


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    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!!!



    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.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2013
  6. Mar 2, 2013 #5


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    I agree with this. :approve:
    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.

  7. Mar 2, 2013 #6


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    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:

    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:
  8. Mar 2, 2013 #7


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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.




  9. Mar 2, 2013 #8


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    Thanks Evo. The last link provided some recommendations that I was interested in seeing.
    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.
  10. Apr 3, 2013 #9


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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.
  11. Apr 3, 2013 #10
    Go and try some raw herbs.
  12. Apr 21, 2013 #11
  13. Apr 21, 2013 #12
    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.

    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.
  14. Apr 21, 2013 #13


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    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/t...on/nutrition program staff/whatarethediff.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.


    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.
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2013
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