February 2, 2012

Vitamins and Mortality - In Defense of Supplements

The latest controversy of many involves supplements. We have heard about salt and fats (more on this in another blog), but now researchers are coming out on both sides of the supplements issue. I have a number of blogs on supplements and many of the dangers. My suggestion, as always, is to use caution and research those that you are taking. Overdosing can be hazardous to your health and some overdoses can be fatal.

Also, consult with you doctor or your pharmacist to make sure you are not overdosing or using supplements that should not be taken with certain prescriptions. Just because they are natural does not make them always safe. Three of my blogs about taking supplements are here, here, and here.

The article that started this blog is here and the article (of Oct 10, 2011) they are disputing is here. They could also have been referring to my blog and the article it covered here but they did not. The controversy is not so much about the results of different studies, but the methodology used in the previous study. The fact that some variables that could have had value were not used and too much reliance on individual reporting led to somewhat vague reporting.

The authors of the study reported in October themselves conceded, "It is not advisable to make a causal statement of excess risk based on these observational data." Yet they proceeded to make some statements that the evidence did not confirm.

The commentary of the article on Feb 1, 2012, did do some analysis of the potential effects of following some conclusions to show that the original study may have miscalculated in making their conclusions. I found this statement rather compelling, “In addition, unlike for pharmaceutical agents, the source of vitamin supplement plays an important role. Synthetic vitamin E (dl-alpha-tocopherol) is thought to be much less potent than its natural vitamin E (d-alpha-tocopherol) counterpart and may have a varying clinical effect.”

In conclusion, the use of naturally found vitamins and minerals in our food may be more beneficial in the long term, but minus these being adequate, supplements may be necessary. If done with the knowledge of physicians that understand the importance of supplements in the proper amounts, generally people will have few problems. Not exceeding the recommended daily allowance (RDA) is important.

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