Never a huge believer in vitamins, I'll admit to a calcium/D supplement, a tablet containing smorgasbord of B, and an occasional multivitamin. But now I'm wondering about that even those few. As Shirley Wang wrote in the Wall Street Journal this week, the evidence of a benefit just ain't there in huge trials. And there's some hint of risks associated with some vitamins taken in tablet form. If you take vitamins, I urge you to read her update on the latest findings--you may be suprised at what you read.
- Earlier this month, it was reported that vitamin E might actually increase the risk of prostate cancer slighly. Or maybe if it's taken with selenium, it's ok. This is not a ringing endorsement.
- Elderly people who take multivitamins may have a slightly higher risk of death than similar folks who don't. Or mayble this uptick was caused by women who take iron even though they don't usually need it after menopause. Again, who knows?
- Vitamin studies are notoriously hard to conduct and interpret. What does it mean if you start taking a vitamin at age 40? Can you override any nutritional problems caused by years of eating too few fruits and vegetables?
- What we do know: Women of childbearng age should take folate. They should also consider taking iron.
- What we do know, part 2: Eat lots of plants. Keep your weight down. Exercise.
Here's food for thought from Ms Wang's article:
Roberta Anding, a nutritionist at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, says some people need multivitamins and other supplements, but she is cautious about the risk from high doses of micronutrients. "It's no longer nutrition when the doses become high, it's pharmacology," she says.
Read this article--even if you have to pay for access.