Warning for Women: Vitamins Will Kill You!

Sorry for the dramatic title. But it is not far off from the title of the piece put out by LiveScience.com this past week.

The title of that article was, “Vitamins May Increase Women’s Risk of Dying.” See what I mean?

Here is everything you need to know about this article. I’ve listed specific quotes from the piece. These are followed by my comments (in bold red type):

“Women who took supplements had, on average, a 2.4 percent increased risk of dying over the course of the 19-year study, compared with women who didn’t take supplements, after the researchers adjusted for factors including the women’s age and calorie intake.”

Is this a significant difference? The way statistics work, they can often be manipulated to support whatever bias the researchers might have. That makes me suspicious of any conclusion drawn using these numbers. What supplements, specifically?

“Mursu said that the design of the study did not allow the researchers to determine if there was a specific cause for the increased mortality.”

Really? They really came out and said this? They can’t tell why there was a slightly higher risk? Fine. But then they go on to speculate about what it means. This statement negates any conclusions stated in the article.

“‘The increased chance of dying could be related to generally high concentration of compounds that these supplements contain. Most supplements contain higher amounts of nutrients than would be derived from food, and it is known that several compounds can be toxic in higher amounts, especially when consumed for a long time, as some of these accumulate to body,’ Mursu said.”

I love this one. It “could” be related to the higher concentration of compounds. Yeah, that’s probably it. After all, there couldn’t be any other risk factors than vitamins. You know, things like smoking, drinking, eating processed foods, sky diving. You know, stuff like that…

“Taking calcium supplements, on the other hand, actually seemed to lower the women’s death risk slightly, by 3.8 percent, although the researchers noted that there was not a relationship between consuming increasingly higher amounts of calcium and a continuing decrease in mortality rate.”

Ah, finally some good news. You can take calcium. But don’t take too much! Oddly, there are other studies showing too much calcium is dangerous. Confused yet?

‘”Until recently, the available data regarding the adverse effects of dietary supplements has been limited and grossly underreported. We think the paradigm “the more, the better” is wrong,” wrote Dr. Goran Bjelakovic and Dr. Christian Gluud, of the Center for Clinical Intervention Research at Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark in an accompanying commentary.’

This is where we start to see the real intent. The research comes out of Denmark. The EU is notorious for limiting the types and amounts of nutrients people can buy over the counter. Does the name “Codex Alimentarius” ring a bell?

Not to say that taking too much of anything isn’t a problem. But given point #2 above, they are using slim statistics to push an agenda. And they themselves admit the experiment can’t support this conclusion. I smell a rat.

‘”We believe that for all micronutrients, risks are associated with insufficient and too-large intake. Low levels of intake increase the risk of deficiency. High levels of intake increase the risk of toxic effects and disease,” they wrote.’

Again, what well done scientific study leads to a conclusion that starts with, “We believe”? Short answer is “none.”

And look at the statement. It basically says, “Don’t take too little and don’t take too much.” Contrast that to the title of the article. Here they admit you can take too little as well.

‘”Therefore, we believe that politicians and regulatory authorities should wake up to their responsibility to allow only safe products on the market,” they wrote.’

This last sentence of the article reveals the true intent of it. Ah, finally, we have the answer! More regulation! Yeah, that’s working really well in reducing deaths from pharmaceutical drugs, health problems from GMO crops and increasing people’s intake of whole, natural foods. Wouldn’t you say?

My Conclusion

From a practical standpoint, you can’t use this study to make decisions about vitamins.

Long time readers know that the same nutrient can have opposite effects on different people. The same is true of foods. And each person has an optimal amount of any food or nutrient. That will be different than any specific recommendation.

The bottom line is that you need supplemental nutrition. Modern foods don’t have sufficient nutrients compared to 100 year ago. But the types and amounts of supplements should be dialed in for your unique needs.

All the best to you for your health and happiness,

Dr. Bruce Eichelberger

Dr. Bruce



LiveScience.com Article, October 10, 2011

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