Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Vitamins Key To Health?

For some reason, I have never believed in vitamin pills. Never take them. I am not saying that vitamin pills do not have their benefits. A lot of people would swear by it – I am sure. But I believe the fresh stuff are more natural and healthier. I am glad I am not far off in my assumption – going by the following article. 

My mantra for good health has always been fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, fresh air, lots of water, regular exercises and a happy disposition. 

Vitamins key to health? Not necessarily so. Large doses of such supplements may even be harmful: Studies

Los Angeles: Vitamins pills – wonder pills thought to play a cruical role in preventing some of the most intractable illnes – have lost their lustre.
              Results of clinical trials, designed by The National Insitutes of Health to qnatify the disease-fighting abilities of vitamins and minerals, have not shown benefits from taking them.
              This month, two long-term trials involving more than 50,000 participants offered fresh evidence that vitamin C, vitamin E and selenim supplements do not reduce the risk of prostate, colorectal, lung, bladder or pancreatic cancer.
              Research has even suggested that, in some circumstances, vitamin and mineral supplements can be unsafe.
              Some physicians now advise patients to rely instead on a healthy diet for needed vitamins and minerals.
              “These things are ineffective, and in high doses they can cause harm,” said Dr. Edgar Miller, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.
              Yet, faith in vitamins runs deep. The council for Responsible Nutrition, a Washington DC-based trade group, estimated that 64 per cent of Americans take vitamin and mineral supplements.
              Despite the steady drumbeat of reports questioning their efficiency, sales have risen consistently from US$5 billion in 1995 to US$10 billion this year, according to the Nutrition Business Journal.
              Scientists remain convinced that vitamins are essential to health. But they are puzzled over how their obvious benefits could be so elusive in randomised controlled trials, the gold standard of medical research.
              Unlike observational studies, which look backward at groups of people to identify factors that are associated with a particular disease, a forward-looking randomised controlled trial has the power to show that a particular factor can prevent the disease.
              “You really do need vitamin C. You really do need vitamin E. You really do need selenium.” Said Dr. Jeffrey Blumberg, director of the US Department of Agriculture’s Antioxidants Research Laboratory at Tufts University in Boston. “Without them, you die.”
              Researchers have identified several reasons why vitamins do not lend themselves to random controlled trials. Chief among them is that there is no true placebo group when it comes to vitamins and minerals because everyone gets some in their diet.
              “For drugs, someone either has (the impotence drug) Cialis in their system or he doesn’t,” said Dr Paul Coates, director of the National Institutes of Health office of Dietary Supplements in Maryland. With vitamins, “there’s a baseline exposure that needs to be taken into account. It makes the challenge of seeing an improvement more difficult”.
              Meanwhile, researchers will return to traditional observation studies to learn more about the role of nutrition in fighting disease. I’m comfortable telling you to eat whole grains and fruits and vegetables and cut back on saturated fats.” D. Buumberg said, “even though we don’t have clinical trials showing that.” 

Conclusions of other studies 

The 10-year-long Women’s Health Study found that women who took vitamin E were just as likely to develop heart disease, stroke and a variety of cancers as those who took a placebo.

The Women’s Antioxidant Cardiovascular Study tested the effects of vitamins C and E and beta carotene in women with signs of heart disease for an average of 9.4 years. None of the supplements had any effect.

The Physicians’ Health Study tested vitamins C and E in male doctors for an average of eight years and found the supplements did not make their hearts healthier.

The Women’s Health initiative traced women for an average of seven years and found that vitamin D plus calcium did not protect against invasive breast cancer.

The Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial tested those supplements in men for more than five years and found that they did not reduce the risk of Prostate cancer.


Anonymous said...

I have been taking a one-day-one iron supplement which I have been buying from Goldshield for over a year now. My doctor said my iron levels in my blood were too low so I starting using a supplement. Personally, I have felt much better since I began taking them, so I am confused why this article suggests vitamins don't do you any good.

Netizen101 said...

Hi Tessa,

Thank you for your comment

Generally, it is understood that all the vitamins that we need are found in the foods we eat. So, as long as we eat well, there is no need for vitamin supplements. However, if for one reason or another, someone is lacking in a certain vitamin, then the vitamin supplement pills would come in handy.

The other interesting bit of information is that almost everyone knows that excess vitamin C will not harm you because the body is well able to get rid of it. But we don’t hear people talking about the other vitamins in the same way. It is as if to imply that too much of the other vitamins may not be too good a thing.

I am not a medical person, but I think iron is a bit different from vitamins. And because iron is not as commonly found in food as vitamins, iron supplement pills are usually recommended to those who has an iron deficiency.

Do continue taking your iron supplement pills if that's what your doctor prescribed.