The Orthomolecular Medicine News Service keeps up a constant flow of articles to their subscribers lauding, reasonably enough given who they are, the virtues of vitamins. Some find their way onto the FreeFrom Supplements site, some get read but not reproduced and some find their way in here to my blog as they are interesting but not necessarily appropriate for the sites. Such, I thought, was this one from Mark McCarty refuting the recent, widely publicised ‘vitamin pills are just money flushed down the loo’ research report.
So here goes – but be warned that a certain knowledge of vitamin requirements is really needed to appreciate Mark McCarty’s points:
“Centrum Silver Adults 50+” was the low-dose multivitamin tested in a much-trumpeted recent study that “proved that supplements don’t work.” This is the manufacturer’s webpage for this paragon of applied nutritional science. However, to actually see in detail what’s in the product, you have to click the tiny “Product Labeling” link directly under the package illustration . . . and then scroll all the way down to the fine print in the “Ingredients” box.
But it is worth the effort. In addition to three artificial colors, note the whopping big doses (this is satire, now) of protective nutrients such as:
Vitamin D – 500 IU (Bet they thought they were going way out on a limb, adding that great extra 100 IU!)
Vitamin E – 50 IU (All provided by cutting edge, synthetic dl-alpha-tocopheryl acetate)
Magnesium – 50 mg (Wow, one-eighth of the RDA, in the ever-so-soluble oxide form!)
Zinc – 11 mg (Cleverly well below the elevated range shown to exert any “dangerous antioxidant activity” by inducing metallothionein )
Calcium – 220 mg (Note the 4.4 to 1 ratio of calcium to magnesium; way too high, and that is not a satirical comment)
Lutein – 250 mcg (Macular degeneration is now a thing of the past!)
Evidently, the failure of this nutritional powerhouse to prevent dementia can only mean that all supplementation is inherently worthless.
Granted this supplement did reduce cancer incidence by 8% (see the report in October 2012 here), but who can remember back that far?
Of course, you would think that even modest, conservative doses of micronutrients might provide some benefit to the many mentally-challenged people whose baseline diets are overloaded with empty calories. So to give the supplement the very best chance to demonstrate efficacy, the researchers chose a population of research subjects most likely to be nutritionally deficient: American physicians!
Now that we have gotten all this supplements nonsense out of our systems, we can all go to our doctors to get prescriptions for the many drugs proven to prevent dementia (of which there are none).
But as for vitamins, thank heavens our ever-vigilant media have set us straight again! What would we do without them?
(Mark McCarty is a nutritionist and Research Director at the non-profit organization Catalytic Longevity. He is also President of NutriGuard Research, and a consultant to several medical clinics.)
1. In regard to zinc – are you aware of this result from the AREDS1 study? The 27% reduction in total mortality observed in those getting 80 mg zinc daily has been largely ignored – even though it was a robust finding in a rather massive controlled study – presumably because few people understand it. It likely represents a protective effect of metallothionein induction, which is dose-dependent above the usual dietary range of zinc (and is likely of minimal significance with modest zinc intakes). A key target of metallothionein is cadmium, which is emerging as a major mediator of multiple risks, even in people without industrial exposure – see reports here and here.
For further reading:
Are Antioxidants Bad for Us? A Response to Dr. Paul Offit
Excellent analysis of the flawed research used to attack multivitamin supplements.
Gossard B, Schmid K, Huber L, Joyal SV. Flawed research used to attack multivitamin supplements.
Additional humorous commentary on vitamin-bashing:
Multivitamins dangerous? Latest leak from the World Headquarters of Pharmaceutical Politicians, Educators and Reporters:
Confidential Memorandum from the World Headquarters of Pharmaceutical Politicians, Educators and Reporters: scroll down here.
Orthomolecular medicine uses safe, effective nutritional therapy to fight illness. For more information: www.orthomolecular.org