Christian Living

healthenews 04/21/08

Vitamins May Shorten Your Life?

Last week, thousands of media outlets announced that vitamins are probably bad for you -- according to new research.

But consider this fact. For some time, there has been a widespread movement to have supplements controlled by the medical community, i.e., turned into prescriptions. The idea is that only a doctor can figure out what's safe and in what amounts.

Actually, doctors can be extremely helpful in regard to supplements when they have the knowledge. But that doesn't mean I want some medical organization or international bureaucracy controlling the whole business.

So studies like this are funded and receive lots of media coverage -- even though there are serious questions about the validity of the research. The researchers did a meta-analysis -- analyzing as a group thousands of studies.

So how did they come to their negative conclusions?

They started with 16,000 studies over the past 40 years -- the vast majority of which show benefits. They proceeded to drop 15,000 of them right off the top and eventually dropped other good studies so that the final count was 67 studies.

Of course, they had what appeared to be valid scientific reasons for editing out so many studies. My take is they were being hyper-selective, in combination with an agenda - They were able to get the results they were seeking.

The only points in their study that had some validity were about vitamin A and vitamin E. The concluded they are bad.

That's probably true if you take large amounts of vitamin A as vitamin A. However, if you take vitamin A as its precursor beta carotene, then your body controls how much is turned into vitamin A, and all's well.

True, vitamin E is much better when it has a variety of "tocopherols," the active ingredients. Most vitamin E is d-alpha tocopherol and most research shows even that has benefits -- especially in combination with other antioxidants.

The mixed tocopherols indeed have additional nutrients. When you look at ingredients, remember the synthetic form of alpha tocopherol, known as dl-alpha tocopherol, is pretty worthless. And the dry powder form of vitamin E is succinate -- potentially powerful in fighting cancer.

The study considered none of these distinctions. That marks their study as irrelevant to wise use of A or E in the real world.

Still that doesn't mean vitamins and other supplments are cure-alls. But they have significant benefits when used wisely.

You have to decide that for yourself. Personally, I take a good multi, extra vitamins C, D, and E, some fish oil, selected herbs, and a probiotic.

Remember if you eat really well, you don't need as many supplements.

Bottom line: I believe the study is more of a political statement than a scientific one.

Give Now