Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Vitamins and Mortality Rates

Recent news is suggesting that vitamins are dangerous for your health based on a study of  women ages 55-69 years of age with an average age of 61.6.  The study started in 1986.  Data on vitamin supplement use were collected in 1986, 1997, and 2004.  The data collected was self-reported meaning the participants submitted the list of vitamins taken.  Vitamins come in all levels of quality, quantity, and absorption depending on whether it is a capsule or tablet.  Capsules usually are more expensive and have better absorption rates.  Unless someone was disbursing the supplements using the same brand and quantity and amounts and carefully tracking the results, which they were not, the study is meaningless. 

According to the study vitamin B6, folic acid, iron, magnesium, and zinc were associated with about a 3% to 6% increased risk for death and copper was associated with an 18% increased risk for total mortality when compared with corresponding nonuse.  All this means very little unless you know more specifics regarding how and when the vitamins were taken.  For example, were the women taking zinc also taking copper at the same time?  Copper and zinc compete with each other for absorption.  They have an inverse relationship in the body.  When one goes up the other goes down.  If an individual takes zinc in high doses, their copper levels are likely to decrease which increases their risk of cardiovascular disease.  If an individual is taking copper and not zinc, over time they could be at risk for seizures. Taking magnesium without calcium can cause nervous system upset. In addition, many women in this age group were supplementing with iron. Iron is not needed by anyone between the ages of 55 and 69 unless they were diagnosed anemic. The study also indicated that women who take supplements are more likely to be of higher income level and more likely to use estrogen replacement therapy. Estrogen replacement comes with it's own bag of worries and risks.      

What else may be influencing the results of this study?  Let's look at the FDA.  The government is considering a bill that will give the FDA the power to ban vitamin and mineral supplementation.   The FDA is the government body that approves all the prescription drugs.   Prescription drugs account for over 100,000 deaths in this country alone YEARLY, while vitamins haven't been shown to kill anybody.  The FDA, with research funded by Big Pharma, doesn't want you taking supplements that can improve your health because that will interfere with Big Pharma profits.  This study is all propaganda to scare you, the consumer, into destroying your health so you can also be dependent on prescription drugs.      

I have personally taken and recommended vitamins and supplements for many years and witnessed their benefit on myself, family, friends, and others.  I have never seen even a serious side affect for those who take them wisely.  Taking vitamins and minerals at FDA recommended levels will not harm you.  However, some supplements can cause side affects if taken in excess such as vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin E, and iron, but the side affects are usually alleviated if the person reduces or stops the supplement.   The same can't be said for prescription drugs.  Many of the side affects can't be reversed and kill thousands of people every year.  That being said, I don't recommend mega doses of vitamins for a long period of time unless you have a chronic illness.  If you have a chronic illness or other health issue or you just want to improve your health through nutritional supplementation, then seek the advice of an alternative health practitioner (holistic nutritionist, traditional or medical naturopath, chiropractor, or someone with a degree in nutrition).   By seeking the advice of an alternative health practitioner, you will get the most out of your supplementation and diet.  As noted above by example, vitamins work in synergy.  Many need others to absorb well and some should not be taken with others as they reduce absorption.  For instance, taking calcium with magnesium and vitamin D will help absorption of all three.   

Vitamins and mineral supplements are not whole food so taking them instead of eating a healthy diet will only improve your health marginally and waste your money.  Whole foods are best for your body. The study of essential nutrients in food is still an evolving field.  Even the wisest of nutritionists don't know the perfect way to supplement (but they do know better than the average American).  Supplements in a bottle do not have the same exact balance as provided by nature and never will.  Consuming only 100% whole foods grown organically in healthy soil will eliminate your need for supplements.  Unfortunately, healthy soil conditions rarely exist today and even organic fruits and vegetables don't have the levels of nutrients (lower levels of magnesium and selenium, for instance) as they did a hundred years ago.  Therefore, everyone should take supplements to ensure they are getting all their nutrients for optimal health.

Even when taking vitamins and minerals on a regular basis, your body needs a break now and then.  The recommendation is to stop taking any supplements for a 3-7 day period at the beginning of every season or approximately every three months to give your body a break and get rid of any accumulated excesses.   This would be a good time to clean out your body by juice fasting or eating a pure diet (vegan, vegetarian, or macrobiotic) for a few days.  Juice fasting is not recommended for anyone not in optimal health.  Eating a vegan diet for a week will do just as well.       


Sources:

Ballentine, Rudolph M.D., Diet and Nutrition, Honesdale: The Himalayan Institute Press,  2005.

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/vitamins-and-minerals-lower-risk-of-mortality---study-confirms-132607998.html

http://www.naturalnews.com/033908_vitamins_David_Brownstein.html



Image: YaiSirichai / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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