Vitamins that kill?

Ok…the title is a bit over the top I know, but new and some not so new evidence suggests that this supplement craze (most vitamins) that is ever so popular now may actually be damaging and not helpful. 

How so?  Well a number of studies have now linked the over consumption of vitamin A, C and E to the development of a number of cancers including lung cancer, bladder cancer, and prostrate cancer.  Statistical analysis also showed an increase risk in premature death is a cohort (a subset) of people such as post menopausal women.  

It seems as if the antioxidant observations in aging, first made in the 1950’s, with natural antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables has now grown into a multibillion dollar industry with man made vitamins in the form of pills.  It is now clear with more and more studies using correct scientific and clinical methodology, that ingesting large (or even moderate) amounts of these supplements not only do NOT prevent illness as prescribed, but result in increased mortality, increased risk of certain cancers, and in some cases increase risk for heart complication.  This is scary folks. This is dangerous folks.

So, what to do?  First and foremost, something that we all know but for some reason refuse to practice (many of us); eat healthy fruits and vegetables that provide you with all the vitamins, minerals, fibers, etc. that your body needs and in the correct natural form.  Avoid taking supplements unless instructed to do so by your doctor (e.g. a pregnant women taking folic acid is absolutely advisable).  Especially steer away from those vitamins which are in far excess of the recommended daily doses (e.g the USDA has recommended dosages).  Extra vitamins do not mean extra protection.  Furthermore, if you are a vegetarian or on a strict dietary regime (or do not eat fruits, vegetables, and nuts) than you might need to take some supplement (but look for those at lower doses).

  Remember, antioxidants can be found in many forms…coffee, teas, vitamins, fruits, vegetables.  However, we now know that oxidants are natural and helpful as well.  Our own body produced them to fight infection and kill microorganisms.  So, oxidants and antioxidants are both important.  Let’s not get carried away bu sales adds and such and buy buy buy, based on what marketing executives tell us.



Dr. C


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