Home » Nutrition » The end of the Vitamin Debate? Don’t bet on it! Part:2

The end of the Vitamin Debate? Don’t bet on it! Part:2

According to an analysis of the data that the National Survey
of Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) collected
in the period 2003-2006, multivitamins were taken by 33% of
Americans over a year. The National Institutes of Health
reports that in 2012, US consumers spent 5.4 billion dollars
in multivitamins. The reasons why people take multivitamins
include an “insurance” against nutritional deficiencies and
prevent certain chronic diseases. This widespread use of
multivitamins, however, has occurred since its introduction
in the 1940s with very little scientific data to support its
benefits.

Last week, we look at two recent studies supporting the use
of multivitamins. The first found that vitamin A deficiency
occurs at a surprisingly high rate in our industrialized
society. The second presented evidence that thousands of
cases of cancer could be prevented each year by taking
multivitamins.

Combat idea that taking multivitamins is beneficial or saving
life, several studies published in the Annals of Internal
Medicine over a year ago came to opposite conclusions. A
brief summary of the results of these studies follows:

  1. The compilation of the results of 3 major trials of
    multivitamins and 24 trials of individual vitamins or Paired
    involving over 400,000 participants showed no clear evidence
    of a beneficial effect of supplements on mortality from all
    causes, cardiovascular disease or cancer.
  2. A second study examined the effect multivitamins had on
    taking mental functioning in an aging population. After
    following nearly 6,000 male physicians aged 65 years to 12
    years, there were no differences in mental performance or
    verbal memory in those taking or took multivitamins was
    found.
  3. A third study evaluated the possibility of taking a
    multivitamin would prevent second heart attack in 1,700 men
    and women who had suffered an initial myocardial infarction.
    This study certainly limited by a high dropout rate, found no
    difference in rates of recurrent myocardial infarction is
    subject took a multivitamin or a placebo.

The results of a number of other studies have found that, in
a healthy population in general they are eating a well
balanced diet, no additional health benefits derived from
taking supplements of multivitamins. Ironically, this is the
population of Americans (healthy, well-fed, etc.) that seem
to be taking the lion’s share of these supplements.

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Obviously, not everyone in this country falls into the
“generally healthy and well fed” category. In fact, as of
last week the Health Council said up to one third of
Americans may be deficient in one or more vitamins. In these
people, there is a definite for improving nutrition and / or
vitamin supplements paper. There are other cases in which the
administration of specific supplements vitamin plays an
important role in maintaining health:

  • Calcium supplements and vitamin D in postmenopausal women
    to reduce the risk of fracture.
  • Folic acid in women who are considering becoming pregnant
    in order to reduce the risk of neural tube defects in the
    newborn.
  • Supplements of vitamin B12 in vegans who can not receive
    an adequate intake because natural food sources of vitamin
    B12 are limited to animal foods. Vitamin B12 supplements may
    also be necessary due to impaired absorption in the elderly.
  • Iron supplements for pregnant women because the amount of
    iron required for the manufacture of hemoglobin (the protein
    in red blood cells that carries oxygen to other cells) may
    not be provided by the diet alone.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that people
    with anorexia, follow fad diets, have a chronic disease, eat
    a vegetarian diet, or participate in feeding programs to
    control obesity could benefit administration of
    multivitamins.

While the debate about the benefits of vitamin supplements
will certainly few would argue that there is a better way to
get enough vitamins by eating a balanced diet with a variety
of fruits, vegetables , fortified dairy products, legumes
(dried beans), lentils and whole grains. The most suitable
role for vitamin supplements appears to be in circumstances
where the diet fails to provide adequate amounts of vitamins
or medical condition makes the need for further
supplementation.

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