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New vitamin supplement study finds they may do more harm than good

Multivitamins Research Review

  • There’s some evidence for taking folic acid for the prevention of heart disease and stroke, and also for taking B-complex vitamins that include folic acid for stroke.
  • As there was no reduction in early death from taking supplements, it does not work against poor dietary habits.
  • Taking supplements is very different from eating whole foods. The latter rarely causes complications and the former may lead to the consumer missing out on healthy phytonutrients found in the former.

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New vitamin supplement study finds they may do more harm than good

New vitamin supplement study finds they may do more harm than good

http://theconversation.com/new-vitamin-supplement-study-finds-they-may-do-more-harm-than-good-97246

theconversation.com

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Key Ideas

Results On Multivitamins

  • In studies testing the four common supplements of multivitamins, vitamin D, calcium and vitamin C, there was no reduction in the incidence of heart disease, stroke or premature death.
  • Folic acid supplements showed a reduction in heart disease and stroke. But high levels of folic acid in the blood may increase the risk of prostate cancer.
  • Among those taking statin medication to lower blood cholesterol, slow or extended release vitamin B3 (niacin) increased the risk of early death by 10%.
  • Antioxidant supplements also had a marginally significant increase of early that risk.

Multivitamins Research Review

  • There’s some evidence for taking folic acid for the prevention of heart disease and stroke, and also for taking B-complex vitamins that include folic acid for stroke.
  • As there was no reduction in early death from taking supplements, it does not work against poor dietary habits.
  • Taking supplements is very different from eating whole foods. The latter rarely causes complications and the former may lead to the consumer missing out on healthy phytonutrients found in the former.

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Supplements don't replace a healthy diet

Supplements are never a substitute for a balanced, healthful diet.

And they can be a distraction from healthy lifestyle practices that confer much greater benefits.

Dietary supplements

This is an umbrella term that includes everything from vitamins and minerals to botanicals and biosimilar products. 

For the most part, though, people use "supplement" to refer to an individual vitamin or mineral preparation or a multivitamin. 

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Over-The-Counter Pills
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Powdered Nutrients: The Facts
  • Most pills are a combination of vitamins and minerals, along with omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Scientific studies show the natural forms (like fish in case of omega-3 fatty acids) contain the real benefits, and popping supplements do not have the same effect.
  • Vitamin E supplements can help to a limited extent but high doses can increase the risk of a hemorrhagic stroke.
  • Vitamin B supplements are only to be used if one’s normal diet is not enough for them, or in case of a deficiency.
  • Taking time to do some exercise and having a plant-based diet is a better long term health solution.
Individual Supplement Studies

Looking at individual studies won't determine if vitamin supplementation is good for you. They're scientifically dense and the conflicts of interest can be very hard to spot.

"Systematic revi...

Research Reviews’ Results
  • If you are healthy, and have a modern balanced diet, taking multi-vitamins and high-dose antioxidants may shorten your life.
  • There’s no evidence to support antioxidant supplements for primary or secondary prevention of diseases.
  • Beta-carotene and vitamin E seem to increase mortality, and so may higher doses of vitamin A.
  • Antioxidant supplements need to be considered as medicinal products and should undergo sufficient evaluation before marketing.
  • The functions of minerals and vitamins are understood largely by their deficiency diseases so there’s no certainty what they all do or how they interact.
  • Antioxidants soak up toxic, chemically-reactive by-products of metabolism called free radicals. These free radicals, left unchecked, can cause damage to DNA and may be linked to cancer.
  • Your body's immune system fights infections by using free radicals to kill bugs. Several of the minerals and vitamins in excess can cause damage.
Supplement Usage Recommendations
  • Folic acid for the women thinking of having a baby and pregnant women up to week 12 of the pregnancy.
  • Vitamin D for all pregnant and breastfeeding women, those aged six months to five years or over 65 and for people who are not exposed to much sun.
  • Vitamins A, C and D supplementation are recommended for all children aged six months to four years, especially those not eating a varied diet.
  • If they are prescribed to you for a medical condition.

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