Are Vitamins Killing Us?

Of these 68 studies, only 47 trials of the “best conducted” studies were included in the final analysis. This is beginning to sound a lot like the vitamin E study that came out last year wrongfully claiming that vitamin E increases risk of death. So let’s talk about this new study out of Copenhagen University. After removing all of the studies that the researchers deemed “lower quality”, they found the following:

1. 4% increased risk of death with vitamin E
2. 16% increased risk of death with vitamin A
3. 7% increased risk of death with beta carotene
4. No benefit or harm from vitamin C

Keep in mind that these findings were not statistically significance until certain studies deemed of poor quality were eliminated. These studies were generally performed on sick people and were not necessarily designed to evaluate mortality. Also, remember that the definition of the “poor quality” of the unused studies was determined by the researchers, not by some proven system. These types of studies commonly lend themselves to the personal bias of the researchers.

So what is my take on the study and its findings? First, let us talk about the press. The press learned from the start that “the glass is half empty” article will sells more papers than “the glass is half full” article. This is no secret to researchers and I believe that they commonly use this principle to their advantage. Researchers, who spend their lives tucked away in a laboratory for years hidden from the sun, dream of the day when their great discovery will get them their well-deserved fame and fortune. The problem is, that day doesn’t come. Their research flops and they are under great pressure from the university to make something happen or pack up their lab rats and go. These universities also want the fame and fortune and if they don’t get it, they will find someone else who will deliver. I feel that these researchers end up consciously or unconsciously designing their research to support a specific predetermined finding. And the finding is usually a negative one (because the press eats that up), especially when it involves natural products. In this study, that is likely what happened.

I don’t believe for a minute that these supplements actually result in an increase in mortality. A ton of research to date has supported the safety of these supplements in both animals and humans. However, I will concede the probability that these products offered little or no benefit. You see, mortality data are hard to come by unless you are studying a population who is very sick and are expected to have a high death rate within a year or two. And people with extremely severe illnesses are not going to magically get better with 200 units of a synthetic vitamin E over 6 months. Smokers are not going to benefit by taking a capsule full of something resembling beta carotene for a couple of years. It wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to see this, it was a waste of money to even do the studies. You will rarely hear us suggest vitamin E alone or beta carotene alone. It just doesn’t make sense to believe that in the complex biochemical soup of our body, made up of trillions of biochemical reactions, we will be able to fix a dysfunctional system by adding one vitamin to the mix. It is a known fact that vitamins and nutrients work together and we need to satisfy all of these nutrient needs to benefit the body.

What do we suggest?

Balanced multi-vitamins such as Purity’s Perfect Multi and Nutrient 950 are much better means to providing full spectrum nutrition to the body. Instead of trying to correct a single nutrient deficiency these multi formulas respect the complexity of our biochemical makeup and provide all of the main foundation nutrients in the right forms and doses to positively impact the body. If you are looking for extra antioxidant support in your multi, I would suggest the Polyphenol Nutrients by Pure Encapsulations . This is an upgrade to the Nutrient 950 product; it adds some very potent whole food antioxidants. We also suggest that you get some sort of whole food concentrate that supplies the phytochemcials and nutrients that are only found in food. Our favorite products are Greens First powder and the Daily 5 fruit powder . Both these products are easily tolerated and certified organic.

Take home messages:

1. You will not die from vitamin C, E, beta carotene or vitamin A unless you choke on them.
2. Don’t expect miracles from one nutrient. Get your vitamins and minerals together.
3. Get some sort of whole food concentrate to complete your supplement program.
4. Eat good food first and then make up the difference with nutritional supplements.

Be sure to tune in to our radio program on Sunday, March 2; we will be discussing this topic in detail. The Your Prescription for Health radio show airs every Sunday from 10am-12pm on WCBM 680 AM. You can listen anywhere in the world through the internet at

This newsletter can be forwarded, reprinted and distributed freely as long as it is sent unchanged and full credit is given to the author and organization. ©2006 Your Prescription for Health

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