All my adult life, I’ve taken vitamin supplements with as good a diet as I could muster, under the various circumstances life has afforded me. And all my life, examining doctor after examining doctor has told me there is no scientific evidence that taking vitamin supplements does any good at all. In fact, they may be harmful in large doses.
There’s something you should know about me right up front: I question authority. So, when a medical professional with an advanced university degree advises me to stop taking vitamins because mainstream science hasn’t demonstrated their helping effects, I acknowledge that person’s message and thank them for sharing it. Then, I discard it and move on with my regular regime.
Frankly, I was insulted that those doctors even suggested that I would OD (overdose) on vitamins. What next? Heroin?
I’ve never accepted the mainstream’s scientific notion that natural, home or homeopathic remedies are useless until proven otherwise. The healing qualities of such substances existed long before some scientist came along and devised a controlled experiment to test her or his hypotheses (guesses) and present the results.
Scientific experiments satisfy mainstream science and its followers. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this method – except its condemnation of as-yet unproven truths.
This is where ancient practices, lore, and local custom come in with natural remedies based on occult (hidden) knowledge and plain old trial and error – experience.
For some reason, mainstream science is completely intolerant when it comes to what they regard – and label – as “alternative” therapies. If someone hasn’t submitted a grant-funded research paper that shows the proper scientific rigor, etc., then that substance or treatment is deemed useless. People who promote such questioning ideas are put down and dismissed as contemptible hacks.
The subject of vitamins is a great case in point.
We know that vitamins and minerals in the foods we eat contain micronutrients that nourish our bodies and keep us healthy. Without these essential micronutrients, our bodies sicken and die prematurely.
There is no question at all that eating a well-rounded diet is the best way to ensure proper nutrition. There are only three nutritional sources from food that fuel the body: protein, fat, and carbohydrates.
All foods contain different vitamins and minerals, and in varying amounts. This explains the importance of eating a wide variety of foods, especially local produce and honey (to immunize against bacteria common to your area).
The sad fact is that most Americans have diets that don’t provide enough nutrition, leading to medical conditions or even diseases.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported that adult Americans are typically deficient in several key nutrients:
• Vitamins A, C, D, and E
The American Heart Association also recommends, first and foremost, to eat a balanced diet for good health. “Nutritionists recommend food first because foods provide a variety of vitamins and minerals and also dietary factors that are not found in a vitamin or mineral supplement,” according to Penny Kris-Etherton, Ph.D., R.D., and Distinguished Professor of Nutrition at the Pennsylvania State University’s College of Health and Human Development.
Dr. Kris-Etherton pointed out the inefficiency of taking certain vitamins on an empty stomach. The solution, of course, is to take vitamin supplements with meals or snacks.
This doctor does admit that some vitamins are useful for certain specific health conditions. But she rules out taking antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, and E – and, in my humble opinion, that’s just plain wrong. Please understand I do not have an advanced medical degree. This is my personal, lay opinion and gut feeling.
Researchers over at the esteemed Johns Hopkins Medicine passed a much sterner judgment and call to action against vitamin supplements. They published an editorial article in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine titled “Enough Is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements.”
These scientists advised that American adults stop buying multivitamins and put the money toward nutritious foods.
This recommendation doesn’t focus on the specific benefits individual vitamins provide but passed a sweeping condemnation of the usefulness of any and all vitamins, as expressed in a multi-vitamin.
The Johns Hopkins researchers claimed their studies showed:
• Multivitamins did not reduce risk for heart disease or cancer
• Multivitamins did not reduce risk for mental declines
• Rates of later heart attacks, heart surgeries and deaths were unaffected by multivitamin use
Here was the final verdict from the top U.S. scientific team:
“The researchers concluded that multivitamins don’t reduce the risk for heart disease, cancer, cognitive decline (such as memory loss and slowed-down thinking) or an early death. They also noted that in prior studies, vitamin E and beta-carotene supplements appear to be harmful, especially at high doses.”
While I agree with Dr. Larry Appel, M.D., that “Pills are not a shortcut to better health and the prevention of chronic diseases,” I do believe that “pills” do exactly what their name says they do: supplement food to produce better health – and better health means the absence of chronic diseases.
It seems these mainstream doctors will say anything to get us from stop taking vitamins. This subject seems to have touched a nerve in the American Medical Association (AMA). Again, I can’t disagree with Dr. Appel when he says, “Other nutrition recommendations have much stronger evidence of benefits—eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and reducing the amount of saturated fat, trans fat, sodium and sugar you eat” – but why shut out vitamins completely?
Is there a secret War on Vitamins that no one told us about?