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Tag: Supplements

Should you be taking Vitamin D?

The research is more complicated than you might think.

As is pointed out in this BBC aricle, it’s widely agreed that vitamin D supplements, especially over winter, may be beneficial, and will only be a waste of money at worst.

It’s likely you won’t get enough from your diet between now and next spring, but the impact this could have on your health is still up for debate.

More at BBC

Multivitamins and supplements are not only ineffective, they can be dangerous

Derek Beres, BigThink:

The National Institute of Health spent $2.4 billion studying vitamins and supplements only to find out they really don’t work. As Pieter A. Cohen writes in JAMA:

During the past 2 decades, a steady stream of high-quality studies evaluating dietary supplements has yielded predominantly disappointing results about potential health benefits, whereas evidence of harm has continued to accumulate.

This includes clinical trials showing that vitamin E, once promoted as heart healthy, actually increases your risk of heart failure and prostate cancer. Multivitamins do not prevent cancer and heart disease; St John’s wort will do nothing for your depression; Echinacea is no match for the common cold. In smokers, beta-carotene increases the risk of lung cancer.

And

In study after study Offit shows that cancer and heart disease rates increase with the consumption of vitamins and supplements. A few examples:

  • A 1996 study in Seattle of 18,000 people showed that people exposed to asbestos who were taking megavitamins with large doses of vitamin A and beta-carotene were 28 percent more at risk of developing lung cancer and 17 percent more at risk for developing heart disease.
  • A 2004 study in Copenhagen conducted 14 randomized trials with 170,000 people and discovered that those taking large amounts of vitamins A, C, E, and beta-carotene were more likely to develop intestinal cancer.
  • A 2005 study at John Hopkins School of Medicine performed a meta-analysis of 19 studies with over 136,000 people. Those taking megavitamins were at an increased risk of early death.
  • Another 2005 study of 9,000 people published in JAMA found increased risks of cancer and heart disease in those taking large doses of vitamin E.
  • A 2011 study at the Cleveland Clinic involving 36,000 men found a 17 percent increased risk of prostate cancer in those consuming vitamin E and/or selenium.

Health and science myths and misconceptions

In this video you will learn about the following myths and misconceptions, and why they start and why they endure:

Health myths:

  • Detoxification is good for the body
  • Vitamin C helps colds
  • Spinach makes you stronger, and contains a lot of iron
  • Letting babies cry makes them stronger
  • Eating chocolate helps people lose weight
  • Strong liquor aids digestion
  • One glass of red wine is healthy

Science myths:

  • Passenger’s mobile phones and laptops can make airplanes lose control and crash
  • Listening to Mozart’s music makes children more intelligent
  • Man-made climate change is a lie

Is it time to give up fish oil supplements?

Jane E. Brody, The New York Times:

Eating two servings of fatty fish a week — equal to about two grams of omega-3 fatty acids — lowered the risk of death from heart disease by more than a third and total deaths by 17 percent.

Omega-3s in fish clearly have effects that can account for such findings. They protect against abnormal heart rhythms, lower blood pressure and heart rate and improve the function of blood vessels. They may also lower heart-damaging triglycerides and counter inflammation, a known risk to the heart.

The question is whether the observed cardiovascular benefits often found among fish eaters is due solely to the oils in fish or to some other characteristics of seafood or to still other factors common to those who eat lots of fish, like eating less meat or pursuing a healthier lifestyle over all. Whatever the answer, it does not seem to be fish oil supplements.

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