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Why Are There Reports That Say Supplements Are Not Effective?

If you pay attention to the media, periodically you will see a report put out by some expert saying supplements are not effective. Some even say taking a supplement seems to cause an increase in the incidence of cancer or heart disease or death. How can that be?

I've read numerous of these reports. It puzzles me. I know from research and personal experience adding a high quality supplement to a good diet is a healthy thing to do. Research shows antioxidants are a basic requirement to fight free radicals. (1) Healthy cells are necessary for a healthy body. So how can these reports say supplements are not effective or worse? And they often say the only effective vitamins & antioxidants must come from fruit and vegetables. Does that make sense to you?

Here are some key points for you to consider when you read one of these reports:

bulletNot all supplements are created equally. Almost all supplements contain synthetic vitamins. For example there are ten different synthetic types of Vitamin E, each is a variation of tocopherol. Only one type, α tocopherol, is a "natural" formulation of  Vitamin E. Seventy percent (70%) of supplements contain g-tocopherol which is a different configuration and only about 10-20% as effective as the "natural" version, α tocopherol. (2)(3)
bulletQuality control of vitamins is not regulated by the FDA or anyone else.
bulletThe vitamin must be usable by your body. Not all of products can be digested and used the same. Nurses call supplements bed pan bullets for a reason. Many come out like they went in.
bulletThe amount of the vitamin being studied needs to be adequate to make a difference. The minimum RDA is not an effective quantity unless you are studying rickets or scurvy.
bulletVitamins work best together. Vitamin C and E are extremely effective together. Taken separately their effectiveness is cut tremendously. A top quality multivitamin is many times more effective than its individual components. Vitamins work together. (2)
bulletNot all the results of the study groups are reported equally. The report that said Vitamin E wasn't effective in reducing cardiovascular disease apparently didn't report the findings for all the groups in the studies examined. The data was taken from many studies and was selectively chosen. (2)
bulletThe way supplements are looked at in these studies is the same as drugs are evaluated. The groups took this vitamin and didn't get the results. Vitamins do not work like drugs. Vitamins do not work in isolation. They work together. Testing Vitamin E by itself is minimally effective, especially if you are using a poor synthetic version. It may take 10-20-30 years of bad nutrition for disease to show. You can't take vitamin E for 2 weeks or two years or five years and expect miracles. Supplements may help people that already have disease but their true effectiveness is to help healthy people prevent disease. Many researchers recognize this and call for different kinds of studies on vitamins. (2)
bulletDo the people issuing these reports critical about supplements have any conflicts of interest like being funded by the pharmaceutical companies?

I ask the questions again. How can vitamins in fruits and vegetables be recommended and considered effective, and supplements containing the same compounds be considered useless or even hazardous? (4)

Who would have a vested interest in discrediting or controlling supplement use in the US and the rest of the world? And if you assume that supplements may help people stay healthy, who would have an interest in a lot of people not being healthy?

Footnotes:

bullet(1) Antioxidants and Cancer Prevention: Fact Sheet National Cancer Institute - US National Institutes of Health www.cancer.gov
bullet(2) Oxidative pathways in cardiovascular disease Roles, mechanisms, and therapeutic implications - (5.3.2. Antioxidant supplements in cardiovascular disease) - Suvara Kimnite Wattanapitayakula, , Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, Srinakharinwirot University, Sukhumvit 23, Bangkok 10110, Thailand; & John Anthony Bauerb - Division of Pharmacology & OSU Heart and Lung Institute, College of Pharmacy, The Ohio State University, 500 West 12th Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210, USA (This entire article is worth reading.) PDF
bullet(3) Nomenclature of Tocopherols and Related Compounds (reference 1.3) World Wide Web version prepared by G. P. Moss Department of Chemistry, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London, E1 4NS, UK PDF
bullet(4) Read Another Supplement, Under the Microscope  by Michael Mason, New York Times Published: March 13, 2007 to see how these attacks are carried out.
 

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