Vitamins From Food Or Pills. Can Supplements Fix Bad Nutrition?:
So we all try to focus on eating healthy, with varying levels of success.
And as we showed before, there are some real pitfalls out there,
When it comes to going for what’s cheap, tasty, or quick.
So as a result of our dietary-sins, when we’re not dieting or exercising,
Many of us are using Supplements and Vitamins to try to make-up for the mistakes and deficiencies,
And even though it seems well-intentioned, some research from Tufts has come out that may discourage you, even from taking vitamins…
The Vitamin Conundrum:
At least since the 60s, maybe even earlier with the snake-oil salesmen of the Victorian period,
People have been searching for that Magical Health Tonic,
Whether it was some crazy vitamin, native potion, or insane soda with cocaine in it,
But the short answer from the current work is: It looks like vitamin-supplement pills do not help your health. At least in the cases of Vitamins A, K, D, Copper, and Calcium, they seem to do more harm than good.
Read on to find out more…
You’re Only Human:
It’s only natural to want to make yourself and your health better.
That’s what this whole site is about.
And it’s also natural to think that maybe because of either farming, pesticides, antibiotics, or other food-processing,
That we’re just not getting enough of exactly what we need.
Also, people not only lead lives where they try to be at their best as often as possible,
Hence Starbucks’ bulletproof sales-record,
But they also lead improperly-nourished, high-stress lives.
So it’s normal to want to make sure everything you need is topped-up from the constant demands.
Like A Lifestyle-Oil-Change In A Bottle:
So what do we do?
We take pills. All kinds. -Especially Vitamins & Supplements.
And that’s just what the work by this Tufts team has found out.
The Results Are Not Good For Vitamins From Pills:
So in a study of about 28,000 US residents, aged 20, and collected over 6 2-year cycles,
Data was gathered on subjects through self-reported surveys.
And Tufts’ analysis of that information reveals a few things about vitamins in pills.
1) There is a lower rate of early-mortality if people got certain nutrients.
2) Intake of Vitamins A, K, and Magnesium were associated with lower all-cause mortality
3) Recommended intake of A, K, and Zinc were associated specifically with lower rates of death by Heart-Disease (#1 killer, btw)
4) High Calcium intake through pills (over 1,000mg/d) was associated with higher rates of cancer
5) All the above benefits disappeared if subjects got their vitamins through pills.
Those results are staggering; and just-about the opposite of what anyone would think.
Now there is some speculation that people who are already very healthy are the types to be obsessed about it enough to make-sure they take pills.
But conversely, if people who don’t take vitamin pills, but eat well do get the benefits, then seems a little perplexing; at first blush.
Pills May Be The Completely Wrong Format:
And a Key may be found 2 places.
1) In that Vitamin-E research from years ago, stating men who take it in pills have a 17% increased-chance of getting prostate cancer.
2) The work of Dr. Neal Barnard and others who suggest:
2a) There are more vitamins in food than the pills
2b) Ex: There are 8 types of Vitamin E and only 1 comes in pill-form
2c) The vitamins in food are more usable and less-dangerous than supplement form.
And 2c) seems to be the way more and more science is going.
Vitamins in food are in probably in the perfect-form for us, and we likely evolved right along-side them for millions of years if you count all of primate-history.
They are Low-Concentration, Buffered, Slow-Release, and Almost Impossible To Overdose-on.
Not so with pills, which can jam a lot of concentrated stuff into your system, quickly.
Hippocrates Was Right; Again:
And on the subject of History.
We’ve established here at least once or twice that Ancient Man was not stupid.
In-fact, the idea of nutrition-as-medicine isn’t something brand-new, cooked up by Neal Barnard.
It’s as old as Medicine itself, with the father of the science, Hippocrates stating, “Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.”
Pretty prophetic for an old man from 2,000 years ago.
Maybe he was more right than he could possibly know.
Perhaps Most Vitamins Are Unusable…:
The other possibility 3) is this: Maybe most vitamins are in a form that is unusable to us.
Sometimes we’re told to take certain things with meals.
Other times, we actually need to take certain vitamins with either Fats, or “Carrier Molecules” that aid in their absorption.
A perfect example of this is Calcium.
Oftentimes, the +/- “best” pill-sources are Calcium Citrate with Magnesium, Vitamin D, & Vitamin K.
As a matter-of-fact, Calcium from pills won’t even go into your bones without Magnesium.
So as far as your body’s concerned, Magnesium might as-well be Calcium’s “Transport Molecule”
Could Part Of The Reason Be Cost-Cutting?:
So perhaps there are all kinds of similar errors from cost-cutting in the supplement world.
Either people don’t take them properly, or it’s too expensive to put them in the right form.
Except for ones that people REALLY decide they need like Calcium.
Another example is Vitamin-C.
Regular old Vitamin C is not really that great.
But if you get the Fat-Soluble form of it, called Vitamin-C-Ester (not Ester-C), then it really does absorb.
Just ask fan of Alpha-Lipoic-Acid, Dr. Nicholas Perricone.
Listen To Joel Fuhrman & Eat A Big Salad:
But all speculation aside, the continuing narrative for proper vitamins is looking a lot less like Centrum or One-A-Day,
And more like Hippocrates and Joel Fuhrman with his advice to, in addition to all the other fruits & veg you’re supposed to eat,
Getting One Big Salad every day with Greens, Garlic, Onions, Mushrooms, Beans, Berries, Nuts and Seeds.
Because the amount of micro-nutrients they can get into your system is almost incalculable, and definitely-invaluable.
Looks like the current research is on the same page as Dr. Joel.
So Where Can I Get These Vitamins In Food?:
Well, here is a short-list of sources for vitamins mentioned in the Tufts study:
Green Leafy Vegetables
Seeds & Nuts
All The Rest Of Them:
And to supplement that, Harvard has gone & made a list of all the major food-sources of key vitamins & minerals, too.
Pills Like White Elephants:
So, now armed with that information, perhaps take a few moments to reflect back at the medicine cabinet full of vitamins & supplements.
Maybe not all are bad, as you can see the current-study only focused on a few.
But the trend is clear. A healthy diet with enough fruits, vegetables & certainly greens which seem to have every good thing in them you’d ever want (except pizza),
Looks like a surer and much-safer path to continuing good-health.
(watch out for the produce with all the pesticides, though & try to go organic when you can)
-And this looks especially and frighteningly-true in the case of at-least Vitamin E and Calcium supplement pills.
You might even be more-likely to find the mythical Superfood before you find a super-pill.
Keep trying to improve and achieve every day especially with life-changing nutrition, but watch out for vitamin supplement pills; they really could be doing more harm than good!
Photo Credits: “delicious blueberry fruit”, by Beth Thomas
• Source: Tufts
• More Coverage: Vitamin A Foods | Vitamin K Foods | Foods w/ Zinc | Foods w/ Calcium | Foods by Vitamin
• Source Study: AIM – Association Among Dietary Supplement Use, Nutrient Intake, and Mortality Among U.S. Adults: A Cohort Study