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Vitamin Studies Dispute Common Beliefs
Posted: 12 November 2008 09:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Now this is very interesting to me - as Occam has pointed out in the past, a chemical is a chemical is a chemical, whether it comes from food or a vitamin pill. Yet we hear so many sound sources saying we should get our vitamins from our daily food. Is this because:

A) By getting the vitamins through a healthy diet, we are certain to get the correct balance of nutrients, rather than worrying about deficiencies or overdoses of certain nutrients.

or

B) By getting the vitamins through a healthy diet, we also include a lot of fiber and all those highly touted “phytonutrients ” found in colorful veggies.

(Those are my guesses.)

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Posted: 12 November 2008 09:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Occam - 12 November 2008 04:49 PM

I certainly am not going to argue against the views of two of my favorite people, Asanta and Jules, however as a 78 year old chemist, I believe in the old duPont motto, “Better Living Through Chemistry.”  Although my gastro-intestinal system still functions very well, a number of studies show that as one gets older, the small intestines lose some of their ability to transport nutrients into the body.  As such, I’ll continue taking my (many) supplements.  LOL

Occam, you’re excused! You can take anything you want.  LOL

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Posted: 12 November 2008 11:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Jules - 12 November 2008 09:04 PM

Now this is very interesting to me - as Occam has pointed out in the past, a chemical is a chemical is a chemical, whether it comes from food or a vitamin pill. Yet we hear so many sound sources saying we should get our vitamins from our daily food. Is this because:

A) By getting the vitamins through a healthy diet, we are certain to get the correct balance of nutrients, rather than worrying about deficiencies or overdoses of certain nutrients.

or

B) By getting the vitamins through a healthy diet, we also include a lot of fiber and all those highly touted “phytonutrients ” found in colorful veggies.

(Those are my guesses.)

both sort of plus——the vitamin C (for example) that you get in a pill is not as complete as the vitamin you get in its natural form in the plant. Same with the other vitamins. More than likely, not all components of all of the vitamins have been identified yet. There is nothing wrong with the pills, they are just not a one stop cure-all that are touted in the media if you are an otherwise healthy person. the vitamin you get from the food is likely to be the complete vitamin.

I remember in the 80s when a formula company decided that there was no good idea to have zinc in the baby formula, because studies had not shown zinc as beneficial to infants. They quickly found that this was a disastrous decision since they discovered the hard way that zinc is essential to brain growth. parts of the vitamin that are left out of the pill could be equally essential, the difference being that we are not entirely dependent on one food.

As for chemicals, I am a firm believer that a chemical compound is a chemical compound, whether it took that form naturally, or was formed in a laboratory! Better living through chemistry! And crotchety old fud retired chemists can do whatever they want!!! LOL

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Posted: 13 November 2008 07:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Jules - 12 November 2008 09:04 PM

Now this is very interesting to me - as Occam has pointed out in the past, a chemical is a chemical is a chemical, whether it comes from food or a vitamin pill. Yet we hear so many sound sources saying we should get our vitamins from our daily food. Is this because:

A) By getting the vitamins through a healthy diet, we are certain to get the correct balance of nutrients, rather than worrying about deficiencies or overdoses of certain nutrients.

or

B) By getting the vitamins through a healthy diet, we also include a lot of fiber and all those highly touted “phytonutrients ” found in colorful veggies.

(Those are my guesses.)

Jules. You are right that a chemical is a chemical. It’s not a belief, its a simple fact. A molecule is exactly the same whether its produced by man or a plant. Same protons, electrons, and neutrons - no difference. A vitamin that is produced by man is every bit as whole and complete as a vitamin produced by nature if they are identical molecules. The main reason for trying to get as much of your nutrition from healthy food sources as possible is because we are not yet as knowledgeable as we would like to be about the nutritional requirements of the human body.

Our bodies evolved to consume and metabolize certain foods that were available to hominids in ancient times. They have therefor developed metabolic pathways that are optimized to use the nutrients in those foods. Our modern diet is devoid of some of those nutrients. Science has tried to make up for this with vitamins and in some ways has succeeded, but not completely. People who eat diets high in fruits and vegetable still live longer healthier lives than people who eat a lot of high calorie processed foods even if they supplement those diets with vitamins. This is partly because of things like fiber that you can’t always get from a pill, but no doubt there are other important nutrients that we have yet to identify.

Given the choice of eating a traditional ( pre modern society) diet that was high in fruits and vegetables, or eating a modern diet which is high in simple carbohydrates and animal protein but supplemented with vitamins to try and make up for its deficiencies, which makes more sense? Until we have evidence to the contrary it seems to make more sense to provide our bodies with the fuel and building materials they evolved to use rather than giving it low quality fuel and then trying to make up for that with our as yet incomplete knowledge of the body’s chemistry and its requirements.

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Posted: 13 November 2008 07:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Jules - 12 November 2008 09:04 PM

Now this is very interesting to me - as Occam has pointed out in the past, a chemical is a chemical is a chemical, whether it comes from food or a vitamin pill. Yet we hear so many sound sources saying we should get our vitamins from our daily food. Is this because:

A) By getting the vitamins through a healthy diet, we are certain to get the correct balance of nutrients, rather than worrying about deficiencies or overdoses of certain nutrients.

or

B) By getting the vitamins through a healthy diet, we also include a lot of fiber and all those highly touted “phytonutrients ” found in colorful veggies.

(Those are my guesses.)

Also, bananas, for example, are more tasty—hence, more enjoyable to eat—than vitamins B6 and C. Don’t forget about the vitamin H found in happiness: you won’t get it from a pill!

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Posted: 13 November 2008 01:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Come on, people.  There doesn’t have to be a dichotomy or polarization where one subsists on “natural” foods OR on Big Macs and vitamin pills.  My diet is mainly fruits, vegetables, grains, a bit of chicken or fish, and unsaturated oils.  I avoid most meat, all saturated and trans saturated fats, and palm or coconut oil.  However, I also take multivitamins, A, C, D (1500 I.U.), E, Bs, creatine, methionine, l-glutathione, l-carnitine, selenium, magnesium, and brewer’s yeast, oat bran, and soy bran tablets. 

I’ll let you know when I die so you can be able to say, “We told you so.”  LOL

Occam

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Posted: 13 November 2008 01:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Occam - 13 November 2008 01:03 PM

I’ll let you know when I die so you can be able to say, “We told you so.”  LOL

No, let me know in advance, Occam, so that I can sell my vitamin manufacturers stocks.  grin

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Posted: 13 November 2008 03:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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It’s ok, Occam, we all have our vices. Irrational supplement consupmtion isn’t all that bad. I go for Scotch myself! Its, uh, good for the heart; yeah, that’s it…
wink

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Posted: 13 November 2008 07:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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And I heard that smoking kills bacteria in your throat and prevents you from getting strep… cheese

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Posted: 13 November 2008 08:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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George - 13 November 2008 07:45 AM

Don’t forget about the vitamin H found in happiness: you won’t get it from a pill!

Vitamin H is my favorite vitamin of all. It stands for Happiness and Humor!  cheese

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Posted: 13 November 2008 09:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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macgyver - 13 November 2008 07:02 AM

Jules. You are right that a chemical is a chemical. It’s not a belief, its a simple fact. A molecule is exactly the same whether its produced by man or a plant. Same protons, electrons, and neutrons - no difference. A vitamin that is produced by man is every bit as whole and complete as a vitamin produced by nature if they are identical molecules. The main reason for trying to get as much of your nutrition from healthy food sources as possible is because we are not yet as knowledgeable as we would like to be about the nutritional requirements of the human body.

Our bodies evolved to consume and metabolize certain foods that were available to hominids in ancient times. They have therefor developed metabolic pathways that are optimized to use the nutrients in those foods. Our modern diet is devoid of some of those nutrients. Science has tried to make up for this with vitamins and in some ways has succeeded, but not completely. People who eat diets high in fruits and vegetable still live longer healthier lives than people who eat a lot of high calorie processed foods even if they supplement those diets with vitamins. This is partly because of things like fiber that you can’t always get from a pill, but no doubt there are other important nutrients that we have yet to identify.

Given the choice of eating a traditional ( pre modern society) diet that was high in fruits and vegetables, or eating a modern diet which is high in simple carbohydrates and animal protein but supplemented with vitamins to try and make up for its deficiencies, which makes more sense? Until we have evidence to the contrary it seems to make more sense to provide our bodies with the fuel and building materials they evolved to use rather than giving it low quality fuel and then trying to make up for that with our as yet incomplete knowledge of the body’s chemistry and its requirements.

It does make absolute sense. And I’m sure the average American doesn’t eat HALF the veggies and fruits they are supposed to.

I’m interested in learning more about foods that have so-called ‘super nutrients’ or ‘super foods’? Do these really exist, and are they everything they’re touted to be? (Blueberries, red wine, avocados, nuts, fish, etc.) I’m curious.

Phytonutrients, is that the same thing? In the ‘colorful veggies’ right? I’ve heard they are really good for you. They’re mentioned in all the women’s health magazines at my doctor’s office. But I’ve also heard they are unproven and there are not any really definitive studies yet. Everything I read says “studies suggest these are extremely beneficial.”

I already know that veggies are really good for me, and I eat many of them daily. But I’m curious to know about these ‘super nutrients’ and their role in our body.

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Posted: 14 November 2008 06:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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Jules - 13 November 2008 09:24 PM

It does make absolute sense. And I’m sure the average American doesn’t eat HALF the veggies and fruits they are supposed to.

I’m interested in learning more about foods that have so-called ‘super nutrients’ or ‘super foods’? Do these really exist, and are they everything they’re touted to be? (Blueberries, red wine, avocados, nuts, fish, etc.) I’m curious.

Phytonutrients, is that the same thing? In the ‘colorful veggies’ right? I’ve heard they are really good for you. They’re mentioned in all the women’s health magazines at my doctor’s office. But I’ve also heard they are unproven and there are not any really definitive studies yet. Everything I read says “studies suggest these are extremely beneficial.”

I already know that veggies are really good for me, and I eat many of them daily. But I’m curious to know about these ‘super nutrients’ and their role in our body.

Just to clarify one thing. “Womens magazines” are quite possibly the worst source of medical information you can find. I don’t allow them in my waiting room ( or for that matter Reader’s Digest either) They are still telling women to get a CA125 and an abdominal sonogram to screen for ovarian cancer decades after they were proven to be useless as ovarian cancer screening tests.

You are quite right in your perception of claims about “phytonutrients” and “super foods”. They are mostly a lot of hyperbole. There are virtually no controlled studies to back up any of the claims made for these food items. The logic behind these claims usually involves a string of assumptions that go something like this. Free radicals can lead to DNA damage in a test tube ( no one has ever proven this happens in the body)—>cumulative DNA damage over time can cause cancer—-> Certain foods contain substances that can nutralize free radicals in a test tube ( again never proven to occur in the body)—-> consuming these substances will lower the level of free radicals in the body ( again never proven)—-> This will lower one’s chance of getting cancer ( again never proven). 

Making these sorts of assumptions is always fraught with risk, and the more assumptions you need to make the more likely your conlcusion will be wrong in the end. The only thing we can say for sure is that individuals who eat more fruits and vegies seem to live longer, healthier lives ( but that could be because these people make lots of other choices that are beneficial to their health - exercise, regular check ups, not smoking). All the claims for phytonutrients and super foods are made on very shakey ground at this point in time. And for those who have the attitude that “well it couldn’t hurt” don’t be so sure. Just as there are no studies showing that these foods are helpful, there are also no studies to show they are harmless either. Keep in mind that at the very least they may harm your pocket book since some of these products are sold at a premium price.

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Posted: 18 November 2008 09:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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UPDATE: The same study that started this thread was analyzed to see if Vitamin E and C had any benefit in reducing prostate cancer. The data showed no reduction in cancer rates. It’s not surprising since another study done 2 years ago showed that men who take high doses of vitamins actually had higher rates of high grade prostate cancer ( So much for the -“Hey it couldn’t hurt” attitude).

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Posted: 18 November 2008 06:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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Thanks for the update. “Couldn’t hurt” does seem to be further and further from the truth, the more we learn!

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Posted: 19 November 2008 04:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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Dumb question I know but do vitamins actually do us any good? I was always led to understand they do.

Kyu

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