Today’s news includes the return of a psuedo-scandal, proof that the FDA doesn’t care about women, and…donuts.
No, Vitamins Will not Kill You
It’s all over the news: vitamins will kill you! This is the same old scare that gets trucked out whenever there’s an FDA or Big Pharma scandal (it happened during the Vioxx debacle and again when the FDA got slammed last month). In fact, Elliott notes that there was a virtually identical story in January, and several last year…and the year before that. Each time, the same studies are brought up.
Honestly, the deja vu is annoying, so we don’t want to spend a lot of time on this pseudo scandal, but if you have any specific questions, feel free to shoot the Big Guy (that’s Sisson) a line. Simply click up yonder.
Vitamin A: it’s not an antioxidant, but people often misunderstand it to be one. No one thinks high levels of pure A is a good idea, and most high-potency vitamins that include high levels of A are giving you beta carotene, not pure A (the best multis will give you mixed carotenoids). For the record, the study that showed risk was done on smokers who were very, very sick.
In fact, this “news” out today is bandying the same old meta-analysis of many studies. Um, huh? you ask.
A quick lesson: “meta-analysis” is just a fancy way of saying “we looked at a bunch of different studies and here’s our opinion.” It’s not the best way to conduct a study, because it’s not really a study, per se – it’s an analysis of many studies which, in this case, were all conducted via different methodologies.
What’s more, in this particular case, many of the studies were based on questionnaires. If you’ve ever filled out a form detailing your caloric intake, exercise habits or sex life, you know these things aren’t exactly 100% accurate.
Here’s the sting: the majority of the studies included in ole Dansk’s report are outdated, ignore other, better studies, and generally involved really sick, elderly, even terminally ill patients.
As far as vitamin E is concerned, scientists continually scratch their heads at this Denmark meta-baloney (yeah, Denmark again…). We already know that the E in question isn’t the best for you. That’s been known for a long time. E, like the B vitamins, is really a spectrum supplement – there are eight different E’s, known collectively as tocotrienols and tocopherols.
Taking one tocopherol – the kind you’ll find in those cheap gel caps everywhere – is not a good idea and this has been known for quite a while now (and any multivitamin that uses this single form is not a multi you want to buy). The full spectrum E? Hundreds of rigorously conducted studies show proven benefits.
In short, don’t buy into the vitamin hype. The study is not news. It’s a review of studies that were conducted under inconsistent and varying conditions, on generally sick people. And it comes at time when the FDA and the drug companies are scrambling to improve their images.
Mark will be adding his thorough explanation to the Health Q&A this week, so we’ll give you the heads-up. Stick around, Apples.
The FDA Is Worse Than Your Ex
Indisputable facts: The FDA puts political pressure on its researchers. The FDA is a cushy landing pad for stressed-out former Pharma execs. The FDA tends to approve drugs based on drug companies’ own studies.