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Do we really need vitamin supplements

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  • Do we really need vitamin supplements

    Hi there.

    Not sure if this is the forum for this topic but it looked like the closest as we are talking about nutrition of a sort.

    I have read several articles over the last few months that point to not using vitamin supplements generally for balanced health. They state that some can actually be harmful if taken too much (ie: vitamin a, beta carotene, vit e etc).

    The newest one Vitamin Use Not Recommended For Older Women

    states women over 60 shouldn't take them as they may be harmful.... I'm neither femal or over 60 but this was just the most recent article I found on the topic.

    I have taken supplements for years and have been sold on antioxidants especially. With Mark promoting and selling supplements I'm just wondering what his or your take is on this topic.

    I was looking at buying some multivitamins from Mark so this is also helping me make a decision.


  • #2
    The evidence keeps mounting against supplements. I have never had my kids on vitamins, and they are extremely healthy. I'd rather spend my money on food with real nutrition than on making my pee expensive.
    I blog :
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    "We have all the food groups- meat and chocolate".


    • #3
      There are always articles, and sometimes some decent studies that say you shouldn't supplement. Then there are studies that say you should. I say that you shouldn't go overboard, but unless you have great nutrition and have had it for most of your life, you probably have some deficiencies, hence the need for some supplementation. Check out Jack Krause's blog for a recent post on 10 supplements for going primal.

      You can do some studies to check on this -- find a good alternative doctor who specializes in good nutrition (not one who subscribes to the SAD). This will likely be a homeopath or osteopath, tho there are some enlightened MDs out there as well.
      Life is an ongoing Experiment of One, so here's to science!

      My Primal Journal:


      • #4
        Yes, for some vitamins at least. I think most of the stuff in multivitamins are unnecessary for anyone with a decent diet, but some things like zinc and magnesium aren't there in food anymore thanks to modern agriculture.
        Ye shall know them by their fruits.


        • #5
          I don't have the answer to your question. Personally I need some supplement to feel well, but I have an autoimmune disease so it is possible that I may "burn through" vitamins faster than others. I think many people need vitamin D and Magnesium. Ideally I would say eating offal would be better than taking vitamins.

          That being said - this really is very poorly done study. IIRC -It was retrospective and people were asked about their vitamin intake over the course the past years. So what that means is that people with subtle underlying health conditions who maybe feel crappy or just a little run down are probably the ones more likely to take vitamins.

          An example of this would be my sister and I. She takes no vitamins at all - she is healthy as a horse and always energetic. I take quite a few supplements but I am often run-down and have low energy. So based on that you would think my supplements would be making me feel crappy. But I started taking vitamins because I feel crappy and some symptoms are gone because of them.

          Also - they didn't break down what types of supplements - it was just ANY supplement at all. They were also unable to identify what people were more likely to die from, which is troubling and suggests perhaps a problem with statistical analysis in the paper in my opinion.
          Using low lectin/nightshade free primal to control autoimmune arthritis. (And lost 50 lbs along the way )


          • #6
            I'm taking supplements right now, but I have to admit that I'm not too thrilled with doing it. Getting all of them literally put me into the red for this month. I hope in the future, diet alone will provide more of what I need with only a minimal amount of supplementation. But I can see that K2, D3 and magnesium will probably always be needed. Plus I live in a rural area with no farmers coop and no way to find grass fed meats... and even if I could, I don't make the money to afford it regularly anyway. So, I can also see that fish oil, possibly krill oil, and some sort of antioxidant like astaxanthin may also stay on my list of supplements.


            • #7
              I found this sentance interesting: (my emphasis)
              Supplement users were more likely to have a poorer quality diet overall, with a lower intake of energy, total fat, and saturated fatty acids, the researchers found.

              Some supplements are helpful, such as vitamin D. Many have quantities that are far too high, often being the equivilent of the RDI and causing people to have too much of something. Some have unnatural forms, such as folic acid instead of folate.

              I do agree that the study was poor and proves little
              Last edited by Stevenhamley; 10-11-2011, 04:27 PM. Reason: typo


              • #8
                Originally posted by Laconophile View Post
                Yes, for some vitamins at least. I think most of the stuff in multivitamins are unnecessary for anyone with a decent diet, but some things like zinc and magnesium aren't there in food anymore thanks to modern agriculture.
                Agree with this. And make sure you do get enough sun, probiotics and O3.


                • #9
                  I'm down to d3 (10,000 once a week) and magnesium (250 mg daily). They both seem like a good idea and are recommended both by paleo types and CW doctors.
                  If you are new to the PB - please ignore ALL of this stuff, until you've read the book, or at least and this (personal fave):


                  • #10
                    Thanks for the replies...It gave me something to think about.


                    • #11

                      WASHINGTON, D.C., October 10, 2011—In response to the published study, “Dietary Supplements and Mortality Rate in Older Women 1 ,” published in the Archives of Internal Medicine (a publication of the American Medical Association), the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the leading trade association representing the dietary supplement industry, issued the following two-part statement:

                      Statement by Duffy MacKay, N.D., vice president, scientific and regulatory affairs, CRN:

                      “Dietary supplements are used by more than 150 million Americans in combination with other healthy lifestyle habits such as trying to eat a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Research consistently shows that dietary supplement users are higher educated, have higher income levels, and are more likely to engage in other healthy practices than non-supplement users. This study did not discount those facts, and expressly noted that supplement users were more likely to be physically active, more likely to have a lower BMI and waist-to-hip ratio, and have a lower prevalence of smoking, high blood pressure, and diabetes mellitus.

                      The authors note in their article that ‘…dietary supplements are commonly taken to prevent chronic disease…’ The statement would be more accurate with the addition of one word: dietary supplements are commonly taken to help prevent chronic disease. In other words, dietary supplements should not be expected, in and of themselves, and without the synergy of other healthy habits, to prevent chronic disease.

                      This study, however, attempts to tease out one piece of the healthy equation for good health—dietary supplements. CRN maintains that nutrients may be robbed of their beneficial effects when viewed as if they were pharmaceutical agents, with scientists looking to isolate those effects, good or bad.

                      It’s important to keep in mind that this is an associative—not a cause and effect—study. Further, the authors themselves have noted additional limitations. In fact, when the authors did their initial [minimum adjusted] analysis, it appears they actually found benefit for many of the supplements, not just calcium; yet instead of stopping there, they went on to “further adjust” the data, possibly until they found statistics worthy of this publication’s acceptance. The study may make for interesting scientific water cooler discussion, but certainly does not warrant sweeping, overstated concerns for elderly women.

                      Further, the authors show their own bias with this statement: ‘We recommend that they [dietary supplements] be used with strong medically-based cause, such as symptomatic nutrient deficiency…’ which basically means these researchers would rather wait till we all get scurvy before acknowledging any need for supplemental nutrients.

                      Our advice to consumers: your best chance for living a long and healthy life is to engage in healthy lifestyle practices, and many in the scientific community maintain that rational, reasonable use of vitamins and other supplements is part of that equation. Talk to your doctor, or other healthcare practitioner, if you have concerns—but read between the lines of individual studies and don’t make your decisions—either for or against supplements—based solely on hype.”

                      Statement by Steve Mister, president and CEO, CRN:

                      “Consumers continue to look for the best way to live long and healthy lives, and as much as we would like for science to easily give us answers, the fact is that science is not black and white. But even more concerning is the recent drive to combine political agendas with what should be pure science. The supplement industry regularly gets accused of this practice—in some cases rightly so—yet medical journals seem to be given a pass, as if somehow they held no bias whatsoever.

                      Let’s look at some of the facts in this publication.

                      First, within the article itself are a number of opinions including this one: ‘Also, cumulative effects of widespread use, together with food fortification, have raised concern regarding exceeding upper recommended levels…’ It’s quite popular these days to talk about overnutrification, but in fact research consistently shows that most people are falling short in several key nutrients such as potassium, calcium, vitamin D, and fiber while certain subpopulations fall short in folate, vitamin B12, and iron.

                      Second, the authors advise that dietary supplements only be used ‘with strong medically-based cause, such as symptomatic nutrient deficiency…’ Given the high dosages of iron reportedly being used by the women in the study— iron is the supplement for which there was the strongest negative association—it is highly likely the participants were taking the high dosage of iron reported in the study under a physician’s care for an iron deficiency which may itself have resulted in a shortened lifespan. But the piece purports to warn against over-the-counter use of vitamins.

                      Next, the publication invited a commentary from a scientist whose opinion on supplements and their potential role in good health is already well-known, and whose own work has been the subject of controversy in scientific circles. In the spirit of true scientific discourse, wouldn’t it have been more appropriate to invite a commentary from a researcher who might have looked at the data in its entirety, with sufficient lead time, and provided a different perspective?

                      The commentary states: ‘…Therefore, we believe that politicians and regulatory authorities should wake up to their responsibility to allow only safe products on the market.’ Critics of dietary supplements will continue to advocate that vitamins and minerals should be regulated like drugs, but even they should realize that although drugs undergo rigorous RCT testing, many safety issues for drugs still do exist. Furthermore if nutrients were regulated like drugs, the cost and availability of supplements would make it difficult for average consumers to make these products part of their healthy lifestyle.

                      The editors add their own ‘editorial note,’ using this study as an opportunity to bemoan the fact that ‘A better investment in health would be eating more fruits and vegetables, among other activities.’ This recommendation comes despite the fact that we don’t see a lot of RCTs for fruits or vegetables either. Even without RCTs, we agree that people should be eating more fruits and vegetables; however, in a practical world, consumers are not doing that, and dietary supplements are an option—not a substitute—for getting some (not all) of the health benefits from fruits and vegetables.

                      It’s time scientific journals acknowledge they have some biases, just like industry.”

                      Note to Editor: The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), founded in 1973, is a Washington, D.C.-based trade association representing dietary supplement manufacturers and ingredient suppliers. In addition to complying with a host of federal and state regulations governing dietary supplements in the areas of manufacturing, marketing, quality control and safety, our 75+ manufacturer and supplier members also agree to adhere to additional voluntary guidelines as well as CRN’s Code of Ethics. Visit Council for Responsible Nutrition-The Science Behind the Supplements.

                      1 ARCH INTERN MED/VOL 171 (NO. 18), OCT 10, 2011
                      My Blog: Healthy Living How To


                      • #12
                        so should we stop taking a daily multi-vitamin and just take d3?
                        I'm too stubborn to give up so I keep on trying.

                        You're never going to get to the top of the stairs if you don't walk up them.


                        • #13
                          I think it has to be an individual decision. Right now, I take a multi-vitamin, fish oil, a probiotic and extra magnesium. I wlll probably take the magnesium for the rest of my life because it makes a huge difference with my migraines. I was also taking iodine for migraines, but I don't anymore and haven't noticed a difference.

                          The rest? Meh. When I run out, I run out. I think Chris Kresser was saying there's a problem with fish oil if you take it for more than a year, and I get the probiotics from the greek yogurt I eat. I'm on the fence about the multi-vitamin, so I'll probably just see how I feel when that bottle is empty.


                          • #14
                            The FDA would like nothing more than to ban suppliments. This is part of their plan to do so. They will cite crappy studies like this one and cry foul, and use it as ammo for the ban. Just watch.


                            • #15
                              Aren't most vitamin supplements synthetic, or not 'bio-identical'? That is, they're not exactly the same molecules found in nature or produced by our bodies? Even if they are the same, it seems like they would be ineffective or even dangerous because they don't come with any of the many co-factors that make them work.

                              Mineral supplements, on the other hand, are important. Plants grown in high quality soil can be good sources of calcium, magnesium, and trace elements, but hard water is a more significant source and it's missing from the diets of most people in countries where filtered water is drunk. I can't imagine getting the 600-800mg of magnesium that I feel I need daily from food alone, so I supplement. And it has made a tremendous difference.