Indiscriminate use of vitamins or supplements is at best useless and at worst dangerous, according to a new study.
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According to the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), there is “no evidence” that taking dietary supplements and vitamins can help prevent cardiovascular disease and cancer in healthy adults.
The Atlantic: 2021 Americans have spent nearly $50 billion on vitamins and nutritional supplements, lured by their supposed health benefits. However based on a systematic review of 84 studiesnew guidelines from the United States Preventive Services Task Force say there is “no evidence.” taking such supplements can help prevent cardiovascular disease and cancer for healthy adults. What does this study remind you of?
Christopher de Jaeger: This study is neither the first nor the last on this topic and I fully relate to this reality. Taking vitamins or supplements indiscriminately is useless at best and dangerous at worst. In addition, we saw that people who took vitamins E or A had a higher chance of developing certain diseases, such as cancer.
Take the example of selenium, which is involved in fighting free radicals. These are highly reactive small molecules involved in oxidative stress, which is one of the most potent mechanisms of aging. We know that this ability to fight free radicals is linked to a complex chain of molecules (vitamins, enzymes). The first molecule will recover the free radical, which will pass it on to the vitamin and then to the next molecule…Therefore, there is a sequential chain that can be blocked by deficiency or excess. However, taking vitamins or multivitamins does not necessarily correct deficiencies if they occur. If you have excess selenium and you consume more, you will block your biological system, which is very fragile. It is for this reason that indiscriminate use of many vitamins can be harmful.
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Anti-free radical systems can actually be related to cardiovascular diseases, but also to cancer pathologies… Contrary to what many share their initial impressions, the use of vitamins can not only be good.
Although the use of dietary supplements is highly debated, do you see any limitations to this study?
If this research is incomplete, if micronutrients and vitamins are taken under the right conditions and controlled, the results can be astounding. Just like a car, the human body needs regular maintenance. If there is enough engine oil in the vehicle, there is no need to add more.
However, this study is incomplete in other respects as well. The point to be made is that if taking a substance like vitamin C or D does not benefit people who are not deficient, then what is really needed is real medical care for those who do. The use of vitamins or other substances must meet the criteria of medical diagnosis and monitoring, and not just respond to the advice of friends, however well-intentioned they may be.
Let’s take vitamin D as an example. It is no longer a vitamin, but a steroid hormone. This semantic error is grotesque. But it makes sense in a country that doesn’t like hormones and likes to call a hormone a vitamin to make it easier for people to accept it and take it when needed… Also, this hormone, or vitamin, doesn’t just affect the bones as is often thought. It’s involved in certain cancers, muscle metabolism, immune level, brain level… No one can really see the need for it other than the dosage in the blood. However, you should know that an overdose causes serious neurological complications, even loss of consciousness, kidney failure, which requires resuscitation. For people who really need vitamin D, a medical evaluation is essential and should be done every two months. However, 95% of the population of France is deficient in vitamin D!
In short, in our Western countries, the disease is very well coded, and the specialists are very competent. But the field of health is left to magazines, friends, vitamin sellers… The market weighs hundreds of billions without any control and no one realizes the health threat it causes.
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