It was very shocking when reading this 191-page review, dated 16 April 2008, titled Antioxidant supplements for prevention of mortality in healthy participants and patients with various diseases (file format: PDF, file size: 1.53 MB, click here to download). I believe many of us are taking multivitamin pills daily. Most doctors also take multivitamins themselves and recommend them to their patients. However, according to this review, it seems like we are doing more harm than good.
This review of 232,550 adults showed that those taking beta-carotene, vitamin A, C, and E and selenium gained no benefit over those who took placebos or no pills. "The findings show that, if anything, people in trial groups given beta-carotene, vitamin A and vitamin E showed increased rates of mortality. There was no indication that vitamin C and selenium may have positive or negative effects."
The study was originally set up to see if antioxidant vitamin pills and minerals prevent gastrointestinal cancers. It found no protection whatever. Instead, an increased death rate of 16 percent was seen in those taking vitamin A pills, seven percent with beta- carotene, and seven percent with vitamin E. No increased death rate was seen in those taking vitamin C or selenium.
Most vitamins are parts of enzymes that start chemical reactions in our body. Each chemical reaction produces end products that are changed by further chemical reactions from other vitamins to other products that benefit our body. When we take a vitamin that has been isolated from the hundreds of other substances found in foods, that enzyme causes a chemical reaction that accumulates a disproportionate amount of its end products. If the substance that acts as an enzyme for the next chain of chemical reactions is not available, we can accumulate end products that may be harmful.
And don't forget that most of these antioxidant vitamins, like vitamin A and E, are fat soluble. That is, any unused portion will be retained by the body fat rather than being discharged from our body. When too much of these vitamins are being retained, they become toxic and poisonous, and we will suffer from that.
I visited the vitamins section of Guardian after lunch today and found that many of the multivitamin sold have very high dosage of certain vitamins and minerals. Some even go up to 500% or more than daily recommended intake. Unless we are consuming only vitamin pills and nothing else, can't we get those vitamins from our daily diet?
I've personally stopped taking all kind of supplementary vitamins and minerals for long time. Instead, I got them through natural food. But sometimes when I spot some deficiency, such as very dry lips, then I know I'm in need of vitamin B2, or riboflavin, I'll then pop vitamin B2 until recovery.
In a nutshell:
Try not to depend on pills for health well-being. After all, they are just supplements. Get vitamins and minerals through natural food instead. Otherwise, we might have to say goodbye earlier with this wonderful world.