Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Vitamins A, C and E are 'a waste of time and may even shorten your life'

So said the headline published around the world this past week:

From the newspaper article:
"Vitamins taken by around a third of the population do not extend life and may even cause premature death, according to a respected group of international scientists.

"After reviewing 67 studies involving more than 230,000 men and women, the experts say there is no convincing evidence that taking supplements of the antioxidant vitamins A, C and E can make you healthier." More here.
We were as stunned as anyone else at the timing and impact of this huge report.

As you know from the "Are Your Vitamins Safe?" report, this is only the most recent in a growing number of studies finding that synthetic vitamins (either from a lab beaker or isolated from a plant or animal) are worthless or even risky for a significant number of people. How can this be?

Here's a big reason:
These isolated synthetic vitamins are not absorbed and utilized properly by the body.
That's because - the 'main vitamin' ingredient, (e.g. A, E, C, etc.) which is extracted by synthetic vitamin makers, does not include the chemical cousins and other ingredients that main vitamin comes with in its natural form. Apparently, the body needs these "cofactors" to absorb the main vitamin.

It's cheaper to extract just the main vitamin. Only it appears now that the resulting synthetic vitamins are useless or worse.

What's the alternative?

Today there is a new class of multis, whole food multis. They put the whole food in the supplement (minus water and fiber), rather than just the isolated main vitamin or mineral.

So that's the story.

Whole Food Nation, a new start up I am part owner of, makes one of these whole food multis. I'm telling you that - in case you'd like to try a month's supply of these whole food multis at no cost. So you can compare it to your current synthetic vitamins, you know?

You can test this whole food multi free for a month. Go here: The Vitamin Exchange program. Ends May 15.

Next issue, I'll review the latest weird diet craze: the Inuit meat and blubber diet. Have you heard of it?

P.S. Affiliates and employees of Whole Food Nation not allowed to participate.


Dave said...

The report from the UK about synth vitamins being (quite possibly) detrimental dovetails so nicely with what we’ve been learning lately about the benefits of whole foods and co-factors –it is uncanny.

I don’t suppose the report will carry much weight with the masses as big business is so well marketed they can convince people that Vioxx and Celebrex are not sooo bad, after all. And so it is with vitamins.

Whole food supplements are for people like me –who don’t need therapy to be convinced of the benefits of fruits and vegetables, to know that they go a long way toward slowing the aging process and keeping one OUT of the dysfunctional U.S. Disease Management System (a.k.a. U.S. Health Care System). I am convinced the whole food supplements are keeping me off of things like Vioxx and Celebrex.

Dave C
Life is Too Short

Robin Plan said...

This is partly in response to Dave's comment about big business convincing people vitamins are safe.

With the number of people eating organic, shopping at Whole Food type stores and supporting local farmers markets change is very possible and probable. These are the people who will and do take supplements that are whole food based.

Word of mouth can bring change and these Organic folks are passionate about what they believe in so they will help bring change. Think about how common it is to find organic food in grocery stores now. It's because more people demand it. The same will happen with whole food supplements.

People will learn how to take these "vitamin" studies and use them to find safer options.

As the reports keep making headlines it will scare some away from all supplements and that’s a shame but at least the reports will get them off synthetic ingredients and that's a step in the right direction.

Kim thank you for this somewhat scientific explanation. It does help to understand why the synthetic isolated vitamins don't do much and how they are quite possible causing harm.


Jeff Iversen said...

It is true that, had they used vitamins from natural sources, they might have had different results. That is not the glaring problem here.I believe the real problem is not so much the vitamins but the fake vitamin study that got published in the newspaper. The authors of this report chose their conclusion before they looked at the evidence. Real science is done the other way around. This study cherry picked the studies that would support their predetermined conclusion. How can that kind of science be "respected?"

Out of a total of 815 vitamin studies considered for evaluation, 748 studies were excluded from the analysis (only 67 trials were included in the final report). Here are the absurd reasons given for excluding these 748 studies:

405 trials out of the 748 were removed from the statistical analysis plan because there were no deaths reported in any of the treatment arms. Therefore, this meta-analysis excluded 405 trials that showed no increase in mortality risk.

245 studies out of the 748 were removed from the statistical analysis plan because the authors’ inclusion criteria were not fulfilled. Double-blind, randomized, controlled intervention studies were excluded in the analysis for a number of reasons that can only be described as so exacting that many studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, and other top-tier medical journals would fail these criteria.

This negative report attacking certain supplements recommends that healthy people should not take these nutrients, yet 46 out of the 67 studies that were evaluated were conducted on subjects that were diagnosed with disease.

This negative report attacking supplements is fatally flawed because it:

1. Omitted 91% of the studies that measured the effects of these vitamins on human subjects including all studies for which there was no mortality!
2. Included studies that used doses far below or far above what health conscious people actually supplement with.
3. Chose to bias the reporting of the results by emphasizing one type of statistical model that showed a significant effect rather than another statistical model that did not show a significant effect.
4. Failed to account for the 14 mechanisms involved in aging and premature death. For example, it is absurd to think that taking 1,333 IU to 200,000 IU of vitamin A is going to have meaningful impact when there are more than one hundred individual components to a science-based death reduction program.

The final shocker is that this meta-analysis report attacking vitamin A, beta-carotene and vitamin E is not new. It was in fact published last year and drew a lot of criticism for the obvious flaws it contains. Perhaps the reason this story was quickly removed from media websites on the day it appeared is that the broadcasters realized they were not relaying “news”, but instead regurgitating anti-supplement propaganda.

Before you believe this "study" that was published in a newspaper, you should actually read the study to find out how they came to their conclusions. Find out who is funding the study and who is doing it. Click on the following links to read several rebuttals to this "news" story.

Vitamin Studies: Rebuttal to Allegation That Certain Vitamins May Shorten Lifespan

Vitamins Found To Be Risky And Impotent

There are plenty of studies that show how taking vitamins A, C and E can make you healthier. They just chose to exclude those studies from their propaganda piece.