3 of 30
3
Whoa!  Lay Off the Vitamins!
Posted: 10 June 2013 06:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7593
Joined  2007-03-02
mckenzievmd - 10 June 2013 08:40 AM

Vitamin supplements are, in themselves, neither good nor bad, they simply have to be evaluated in the same way as any other medicine, in terms of dose and the particular needs and risk factors of the individual as far as we can determine them from the existing research evidence.

Exactly.

 Signature 

Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

Profile
 
 
Posted: 10 June 2013 06:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7593
Joined  2007-03-02
mckenzievmd - 10 June 2013 02:16 PM

Yeah, isn’t that just like eating food? When I eat a large breakfast for example with eggs, potatoes, sausage, OJ and toast I’m getting lot’s of small doses of many vitamins. Isn’t that the same?

What I believe MacGyver and I are saying is that the difference between taking supplements and getting all your vitamins from your food is simply that since you are probably already getting all you need from your food, the supplements are almost certainly bringing your total intake up to more than you need.

Many people do not get enough of certain nutrients that their body needs through food, in part because they don’t eat right.  Not everyone eats citrus fruit, which is loaded with vitamin C and of course, vitamin D is in chemical form when added to milk, as though one took a supplement and for some that’s not enough.  Others don’t drink milk at all.  Those that are rarely in the sun and don’t drink milk, are, as a rule, low on vitamin D.  I could continue, but I’m sure you get the point.  Be that as it may, in the developing world, the vitamins added to our foods are all chemicals, just like they are in supplements made in a lab by humans (ie the vitamin D added to milk)

 Signature 

Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

Profile
 
 
Posted: 10 June 2013 06:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2216
Joined  2007-04-26
Occam. - 10 June 2013 06:24 PM

A number of comments:

1.  From the large amounts of “fast food” in the diets of many in the U.S. I’d guess that they aren’t getting the needed levels of quite a few vitamins and other components.  So, supplemental vitamins might actually help.

Yet there is very little evidence to support this contention. Many foods today are already fortified with vitamins so that even someone who doesn’t eat a well rounded diet is unlikely to be vitamin deficient. That’s not to say the diet is healthy its just not going to be vitamin deficient and vitamin supplements are not likely to overcome the deficiencies found in those diets.

Occam. - 10 June 2013 06:24 PM

2.  I read the abstracts of scientific papers in the health section of Science Daily, and I’m fascinated by the huge number of research projects at various colleges and medical schools on various aspects of nutrition and how many of them reach the conclusion that increased amounts of some particular vitamin, amino acid, or mineral has a positive effect.

You are correct that there are lots of studies which conclude that one substance or another is capable of affecting the risk of disease or something else. That doesn’t mean that they are worthy of consideration when making medical decisions about your health. Studies come in all types and they are not all created equal. You need to read them with a very critical mind and if you dont have training that would allow you to evaluate the studies you need a good doctor you can rely on to guide you. When you limit your research to the few high quality studies that do exist there are few that show any benefit to vitamin supplementation for most individuals

Occam. - 10 June 2013 06:24 PM

3.  I can’t get angry at the weakness of a great deal of medical research because it’s hard to justify using humans as controls who might die earlier if not given some particular item.  However, I believe the project on which this thread is based was purely observational.  As such, it’s extremely difficult to weed out other factors that may contribute to the results.  For example, are people who already recognize they have some health weakness more likely to take supplemental vitamins?  If so, the conclusion that the supplements cause earlier death would quite possibly be unjustified.

Yet you should be very skeptical of any recommendations which are not based on well controlled studies when ever possible. It is not unethical at all to do a controlled study on vitamins unless you have good evidence that using or withholding the vitamin supplement would be harmful and since there is no such evidence doing the studies is in no way unethical. The Vit E situation is a great example of how these studies are not only ethical but essential. Men who were taking Vit E based on weak evidence from population studies were being harmed. Without the controlled studies we never would have known that.

You are correct in your suspicion that people with illness may be more likely to use vitamins and therefor skew the results. But individuals who are very health conscious are also more likely to use supplements skewing the results in the opposite direction. These issues have been brought up before. This is the problem when you don’t have well controlled studies. All sorts of confounding variables can creep in which is why we need controlled studies to make valid decisions. If there is no good evidence to support the use of these supplements then the default position should be not to use them.

 Signature 

For every complex problem there is a solution that is simple, obvious,.... and just plain wrong

Profile
 
 
Posted: 10 June 2013 07:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7593
Joined  2007-03-02
Occam. - 10 June 2013 06:24 PM

A number of comments:

1.  From the large amounts of “fast food” in the diets of many in the U.S. I’d guess that they aren’t getting the needed levels of quite a few vitamins and other components.  So, supplemental vitamins might actually help.

2.  I read the abstracts of scientific papers in the health section of Science Daily, and I’m fascinated by the huge number of research projects at various colleges and medical schools on various aspects of nutrition and how many of them reach the conclusion that increased amounts of some particular vitamin, amino acid, or mineral has a positive effect.

3.  I can’t get angry at the weakness of a great deal of medical research because it’s hard to justify using humans as controls who might die earlier if not given some particular item.  However, I believe the project on which this thread is based was purely observational.  As such, it’s extremely difficult to weed out other factors that may contribute to the results.  For example, are people who already recognize they have some health weakness more likely to take supplemental vitamins?  If so, the conclusion that the supplements cause earlier death would quite possibly be unjustified.

Occam

You said it better than I did, Occam, and the last one you mentioned, could esp confound things, esp if they don’t see a doctor for what they think is ailing them OR like the guy (n the original article) who he and his wife died after taking vitamins for years- they might have put all their faith in the vitamins and not seen a dr or fought the dr, in favour of supplements, which could have lead to their deaths.  It wasn’t the vitamins and supplements’ fault they died in those cases.  They chose to take mega-doses and refused to medical treatment or something.  People can have both though, if they talk to their dr and the dr finds it to be OK.  The other thing is, some supplements don’t mix with prescription drugs and can kill- ie St. John’s Wart and antidepressants.  Certain herbs can cause issues with surgery, sometimes deadly one’s.  However, these things don’t mean people shouldn’t ever take them.  They just need to tell their dr what they are taking and discuss these things with him/her.

 Signature 

Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

Profile
 
 
Posted: 10 June 2013 07:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2216
Joined  2007-04-26
Mriana - 10 June 2013 06:40 PM
macgyver - 10 June 2013 06:19 AM

Sounds a bit surprising doesn’t it?

No, not coming from someone who’s not a doctor and doesn’t have a medical degree to practice medicine.

I am a practicing physician Mariana with a degree from an American Medical School, board certified in Internal Medicine, and licensed in the state of NY. Its common knowledge here but the discussion took place a long time ago so you may have missed it.

[ Edited: 10 June 2013 07:08 PM by macgyver ]
 Signature 

For every complex problem there is a solution that is simple, obvious,.... and just plain wrong

Profile
 
 
Posted: 10 June 2013 07:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7593
Joined  2007-03-02
macgyver - 10 June 2013 06:59 PM
Occam. - 10 June 2013 06:24 PM

A number of comments:

1.  From the large amounts of “fast food” in the diets of many in the U.S. I’d guess that they aren’t getting the needed levels of quite a few vitamins and other components.  So, supplemental vitamins might actually help.

Yet there is very little evidence to support this contention. Many foods today are already fortified with vitamins so that even someone who doesn’t eat a well rounded diet is unlikely to be vitamin deficient. That’s not to say the diet is healthy its just not going to be vitamin deficient and vitamin supplements are not likely to overcome the deficiencies found in those diets.

You really believe that don’t you?  Don’t you realize a lot of those “fortified foods” are loaded with chemicals?  Have you ever lived on a vegetarian diet most or all your life, free of such contaminates that are exactly what you speak of?  Vegetarian diets are totally different than chemical laden foods you speak of.  Monsanto and other companies load up fortified foods with so many chemicals that it could actually kill you.  GMOs are horrible and even worse than the chemicals they use to fortified foods and yet you talk about vitamins killing people?  PLEASE!

And let’s not forget, they pump up farm animals with antibiotics and then complain about antibiotic resistance.  Yes, bacteria does evolve, but at the same time, you’re eating antibiotics everytime you eat beef or pork.  Then there are the other chemicals farmers pump animals with to make more meat and less fat.  You are virtually ingesting nothing but chemicals when you eat meat and other so-called fortified foods.  Then there are all the preservatives that make some people sick with migraines and other like maladies.  Preservatives are chemicals and they aren’t healthy for you either and could cause more harm than good.  So don’t talk about vitamins being deadly before you look at your “fortified foods”, GMOs, antibiotic laden, and steroid laden foods.

Before you go saying that I’m talking crazy, take a look at what you are saying first.  There really isn’t much difference in your screaming about vitamins and me screaming about farm animals pumped with poisons, GMOS, etc which you apparently eat.  The thing is, GMOs, antibiotics added to meat, etc are not healthy for anyone, vegetarian or not.

 Signature 

Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

Profile
 
 
Posted: 10 June 2013 07:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7593
Joined  2007-03-02
macgyver - 10 June 2013 07:04 PM
Mriana - 10 June 2013 06:40 PM
macgyver - 10 June 2013 06:19 AM

Sounds a bit surprising doesn’t it?

No, not coming from someone who’s not a doctor and doesn’t have a medical degree to practice medicine.

I am a practicing physician Mariana with a degree from an American Medical School, board certified in Internal Medicine, and licensed in the state of NY. Its common knowledge here but the discussion took place a long time ago so you may have missed it.

OK I guess I did miss that discussion and that does surprise me.  Not missing the discussion, but that you’re a dr.

 Signature 

Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

Profile
 
 
Posted: 10 June 2013 08:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4576
Joined  2008-08-14

Nobody took a crack at my question?  Is eating peanuts, or other foods that contain Vita E carcinogenic over long term?

 Signature 

Row row row your boat gently down the stream.  Merrily Merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 10 June 2013 08:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4576
Joined  2008-08-14
Mriana - 10 June 2013 06:53 PM
mckenzievmd - 10 June 2013 02:16 PM

Yeah, isn’t that just like eating food? When I eat a large breakfast for example with eggs, potatoes, sausage, OJ and toast I’m getting lot’s of small doses of many vitamins. Isn’t that the same?

What I believe MacGyver and I are saying is that the difference between taking supplements and getting all your vitamins from your food is simply that since you are probably already getting all you need from your food, the supplements are almost certainly bringing your total intake up to more than you need.

Many people do not get enough of certain nutrients that their body needs through food, in part because they don’t eat right.  Not everyone eats citrus fruit, which is loaded with vitamin C and of course, vitamin D is in chemical form when added to milk, as though one took a supplement and for some that’s not enough.  Others don’t drink milk at all.  Those that are rarely in the sun and don’t drink milk, are, as a rule, low on vitamin D.  I could continue, but I’m sure you get the point.  Be that as it may, in the developing world, the vitamins added to our foods are all chemicals, just like they are in supplements made in a lab by humans (ie the vitamin D added to milk)

Exactly Mriana.  Lot’s of foods are fortified.  Breakfast cereal for example is nothing but a multi vitamin in a bowl with milk.
A slice of bread is is a multivitamin. Flour is enriched and or fortified with extra unnaturally occurring vitas and minerals.
We all had this discussion before 2-3 years ago. Nothing’s changed.  New research comes out and goes.
As far as getting more than one needs-I’m sure that happens alot with people who eat nothing but food.

 Signature 

Row row row your boat gently down the stream.  Merrily Merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 10 June 2013 09:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7593
Joined  2007-03-02
VYAZMA - 10 June 2013 08:35 PM
Mriana - 10 June 2013 06:53 PM
mckenzievmd - 10 June 2013 02:16 PM

Yeah, isn’t that just like eating food? When I eat a large breakfast for example with eggs, potatoes, sausage, OJ and toast I’m getting lot’s of small doses of many vitamins. Isn’t that the same?

What I believe MacGyver and I are saying is that the difference between taking supplements and getting all your vitamins from your food is simply that since you are probably already getting all you need from your food, the supplements are almost certainly bringing your total intake up to more than you need.

Many people do not get enough of certain nutrients that their body needs through food, in part because they don’t eat right.  Not everyone eats citrus fruit, which is loaded with vitamin C and of course, vitamin D is in chemical form when added to milk, as though one took a supplement and for some that’s not enough.  Others don’t drink milk at all.  Those that are rarely in the sun and don’t drink milk, are, as a rule, low on vitamin D.  I could continue, but I’m sure you get the point.  Be that as it may, in the developing world, the vitamins added to our foods are all chemicals, just like they are in supplements made in a lab by humans (ie the vitamin D added to milk)

Exactly Mriana.  Lot’s of foods are fortified.  Breakfast cereal for example is nothing but a multi vitamin in a bowl with milk.
A slice of bread is is a multivitamin. Flour is enriched and or fortified with extra unnaturally occurring vitas and minerals.
We all had this discussion before 2-3 years ago. Nothing’s changed.  New research comes out and goes.
As far as getting more than one needs-I’m sure that happens alot with people who eat nothing but food.

Yes, there have been stories of people’s skin turning orange due to eating too many carrots, loaded with, I think, vitamin A.  The treatment- stop eating so many carrots.  Personally, I can’t eat too many carrots.  Tomatoes, maybe, but not carrots, and I’ve not met anyone who’s eaten so many carrots that their skin turned orange, but still, the point is, if one eats too much of one food or lived on one food (like ramen noodles) they could get sick.  Bottom line, too much of anything could be a bad thing.

 Signature 

Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

Profile
 
 
Posted: 11 June 2013 04:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2216
Joined  2007-04-26
VYAZMA - 10 June 2013 08:28 PM

Nobody took a crack at my question?  Is eating peanuts, or other foods that contain Vita E carcinogenic over long term?

No one can answer that question precisely because that wasn’t studied. For all the reasons that mckenzie and I discussed above you can not automatically carry over results from a supplement trial to foods and visa versa, however if someone were thinking about eating peanuts for the sole purpose of increasing their Vit E intake this study should make them think twice about the wisdom of that decision.

 Signature 

For every complex problem there is a solution that is simple, obvious,.... and just plain wrong

Profile
 
 
Posted: 11 June 2013 07:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4576
Joined  2008-08-14
macgyver - 11 June 2013 04:44 AM
VYAZMA - 10 June 2013 08:28 PM

Nobody took a crack at my question?  Is eating peanuts, or other foods that contain Vita E carcinogenic over long term?

No one can answer that question precisely because that wasn’t studied. For all the reasons that mckenzie and I discussed above you can not automatically carry over results from a supplement trial to foods and visa versa, however if someone were thinking about eating peanuts for the sole purpose of increasing their Vit E intake this study should make them think twice about the wisdom of that decision.

What if they just like eating peanuts because of the taste?

 Signature 

Row row row your boat gently down the stream.  Merrily Merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 11 June 2013 08:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2216
Joined  2007-04-26
VYAZMA - 11 June 2013 07:02 AM

What if they just like eating peanuts because of the taste?

Wel then you just have to make a decision based on the available evidence and decide whether its worth continuing something you enjoy and accepting a possible small increase in your risk of prostate cancer.

As an aside, I am not sure how old you are but nearly all men will get prostate cancer if they live long enough. Over the age of 80 almost 90%of men have prostate cancer but the majority of them will die of something else without the cancer ever causing a real problem so in this particular example you may want to factor that into your decision as well.

Life is complicated enough. That’s why it makes sense to keep things as simple as possible by not adding unnecessary unknowns into the equation like supplements and vitamins.

 Signature 

For every complex problem there is a solution that is simple, obvious,.... and just plain wrong

Profile
 
 
Posted: 11 June 2013 08:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4576
Joined  2008-08-14
macgyver - 11 June 2013 08:18 AM
VYAZMA - 11 June 2013 07:02 AM

What if they just like eating peanuts because of the taste?

Wel then you just have to make a decision based on the available evidence and decide whether its worth continuing something you enjoy and accepting a possible small increase in your risk of prostate cancer.

As an aside, I am not sure how old you are but nearly all men will get prostate cancer if they live long enough. Over the age of 80 almost 90%of men have prostate cancer but the majority of them will die of something else without the cancer ever causing a real problem so in this particular example you may want to factor that into your decision as well.

Life is complicated enough. That’s why it makes sense to keep things as simple as possible by not adding unnecessary unknowns into the equation like supplements and vitamins.

I’m in the low 40s. Life isn’t that complicated for me.  I keep it real simple.

 Signature 

Row row row your boat gently down the stream.  Merrily Merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 11 June 2013 08:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4096
Joined  2006-11-28

Don’t you realize a lot of those “fortified foods” are loaded with chemicals?  Have you ever lived on a vegetarian diet most or all your life, free of such contaminates that are exactly what you speak of?  Vegetarian diets are totally different than chemical laden foods you speak of.  Monsanto and other companies load up fortified foods with so many chemicals that it could actually kill you.  GMOs are horrible and even worse than the chemicals they use to fortified foods and yet you talk about vitamins killing people?  PLEASE!

I’m not sure where your hostility to MacGyver comes from (perhaps a thread I missed?), but I have to say I think you’re way off base here. I am a vegetarian myself (though not a vegan, as I do eat fish and eggs), but I don’t see any connection between the ethical issues of vegetarianism, or the limited data on health effects, and the issues you’re talking about. I would definitely recommend a great web site called The Skeptical Vegan, which debunks a lot of the mythology that seems to get caught up in the ethos of a vegetarian lifestyle.

“Chemicals” is one of those nonsense words based on the naturalistic fallacy, used to imply something is bad for you because of how it is manufactured or where it comes from regardless of any actual evidence about health effects. It makes no sense to claim taking vitamin supplements is good for you and then rant about dangerous “chemicals” in foods because they are fortified with the same vitamins. The “chemicals” are the same in both cases, and the real question is whether they have meaningful health effects, good or bad, either eaten in food or taken as supplements. As for other substances, such as preservatives, coloring agents, etc, that are in processed foods, these too can’t simply be assumed to be good or bad because they are “chemicals.” Their health effects, if any, need to be evaluated through proper research like anything else. And just as the fact that eating fish may be associated with health effects in observational studies, yet this doesn’t mean that taking one chemical out of fish and taking it as a supplement is good for you, likewise the fact that a diet with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables is associated with better health outcomes in observational studies doesn’t automatically mean that processed foods are abd because of unnatural “chemicals” that are toxic. The health status of living organisms, and the influence of environmental factors such as diet on that, are incredibly complex, and simple statements about “good” and “bad” foods or supplements are almost never justified.

As for GMO, sorry but despite a lot of research the hysterical fear out there about them isn’t justified by real evidence. It’s another example of the “natural=good, artificial=bad” BS that informs an awful lot of alternative medicine. There may very well be health risks associated with these foods, but there is virtually no reliable evidence of this, and the studies that are put forward to justify anti-GMO claims are often biased and scientifically worthless (e.g. a recent rat study that got a lot of press).

So if you are trying to make the argument that vitamin supplements are safe and healthy but that vitamin-fortified foods are unsafe because they are “loaded with chemicals,” that makes no sense. And if you are saying we shouldn’t talk about the possible risks of taking vitamin supplements because there are worse risks in processed foods, that also makes no sense because 1) the two are unrelated issues, and both MacGyver and I would absolutely recommend a diet emphasizing fresh fruits and vegetables and minimizing processed foods, though not likely for the reasons you cite, and 2) there isn’t very good evidence to support your claims that the problem with these foods are GMOs or specific chemical toxins in them. 

It all seems a bit off the point anyway, which was simply a response to Occam’s claim that vitamin supplements are reasonable because most people probably don’t get adequate vitamin levels in their diets. MacGyver’s point was that this is an assumption which isn’t necessarily true, so it isn’t really a justification for taking supplements. Nothing really to do with questions about GMOs, preservatives in foods, or antibiotics given to food animals (which, as an aside, I tend to agree is not an appropriate practice, though not for exactly the reasons you cite).

 Signature 

The SkeptVet Blog
You cannot reason a person out of a position he did not reason himself into in the first place. 
Johnathan Swift

Profile
 
 
   
3 of 30
3
 
‹‹ Acupuncture      Why are we being so stupid? ››