'Case closed' on vitamin and mineral supplements
How many times have we heard a supplement, whether vitamin, mineral, claim to boost your sexual powers or prevent or even cure chronic and serious diseases? And how many times have we heard this Department of Health-mandated statement trailing behind the claims: “Ang [name of supplement] ay hindi gamot at hindi dapat gamiting panggamot sa anumang uri ng sakit (Important reminder: This is not a medicinal drug and should not be used to treat the symptoms of any disease).” I would think too many times and you wonder: why would a pair of statements that clearly affect your health, be poised as if to deliberately confuse you? What is the real score with supplements?
A comprehensive sweep of supplements and their ability to prevent or cure many chronic diseases has concluded, that unless you belong to a very small, specific set of people (which your doctor and not you should determine), you do not need vitamin and mineral supplements. Some may even be harmful to you including doses of Vitamins A, E and beta carotene. This study on vitamins has declared that the “case is closed.” And yes, they really used those words. They were that confident of the scope of the many studies they reviewed, the number of participants in those many studies and in the length of time the studies followed the participants.
The word “vitamins” is thrown around as if it were some kind of compound with a halo – “pure” and “good.” But if you ask around, most people do not really know what it means.
Vitamins are essential substances that organisms need for growth and development and there are 13 of them. “Vit” comes from the Greek word “life” and “amin” from “amino acids” because they were once thought to contain amino acids – the 20 essential ones that our genes code for. But they don’t. Each vitamin could come in many different forms and one form which may be applicable to humans may not be applicable to other life forms.
Our bodies can make some of these vitamins (with a third of our vitamins being produced by the microbes in our gut) but others we get through our food. Unless you are undernourished (which the vast majority of people who can afford supplements are not), you get enough vitamins from food.
There are 2 types of vitamins: fat soluble and water soluble. Fat soluble ones – A, D, E and K – are stored in our fatty tissues and build-up could spell trouble for your body. The others are fat soluble and just come out with your pee when you do not use them, with the exception of Vitamin B12 which apparently can nest in the liver for many years.
I think it is human nature to hoard so that just because in little specific amounts, vitamins keep us functioning, we think taking more will make us better and having a lot is even better. Unfortunately, our bodies do not work that way and worse, taking vitamins regularly can be very harmful to you.
The sweeping study I mentioned had 3 major conclusions:
One, for those who think that the vitamins they take will prevent or cure their heart conditions and cancer, the verdict is that NO supplements showed any benefit in doing any of those. Second, for older people who are not malnourished, NO dietary supplement including multivitamins, Vitamins B, E and C and even omega-3 fatty acids prevented their age-related cognitive decline. NONE of these supplements improved their mental conditions either. Third, high doses of a 28-component multivitamin taken by patients who have had heart conditions has had NO effect on preventing a recurrence of their heart ailments.
They also reviewed other studies which specifically identified the danger of routinely taking “β-carotene, vitamin E, and possibly high doses of vitamin A supplements” because they have been shown to have caused deaths in some people.
Poison is always said to be not so much substance but “dosage.” This applies to vitamins and mineral supplements as well. Worse are multivitamins which is like a shotgun, with one pill splintering into so many, which you most likely do not need for your body. So it will either be a waste of money or could harm you.
While there are supplements that apply to specific medical conditions, this should be determined by your doctor (and behind him or her are batches and batches of clinical trials proving that it is safe and that it works). The power of supplements should not rest on merchants who advertise this freely with celebrity endorsements and “recovery” stories. One story and endorsement may seem amazing but it is still just ONE data point versus hundreds of thousands to the millions required in clinical trials.
“Hindi gamot” (not a drug) is a loaded phrase. It means those supplements are not accountable if they do not do what you think they will do and worse, the companies are not accountable for any harm they cause you. And if you go back to that big important study on vitamins I mentioned, the researchers entitled it “Enough is enough. Stop wasting money on vitamin and mineral supplements.”
So while it may take geologic ages to make the DOH warning to the public clearer, more forceful and definitive, you yourself can figure out what to do faced with the lure of vitamins and minerals for better health. If mountains of proof have concluded that the “case is closed” and that “enough is enough”, why should you give in? – Rappler.com