VITAMINS AND SUPPLEMENTS EXPOSED; DO THEY ACTUALLY WORK?

by Vassilis Ragoussis on February 19, 2014

 

UntitledMy name is Vassilis Ragoussis or Vass for short and I live in Oxford, England. I am on the Boston University Men’s Crew team. As crew is such a demanding sport I am constantly required to consume calories and vitamins to keep me healthy. This is not as fun as it sounds…

 

“Eat a balanced diet”, is a recurring ‘guideline’ that we all try and abide by. However, whether you are an athlete, professor or musician, getting the recommended 5vegetables and fruits a day or 2 ½ cups can turn into a dreadful struggle. Like many, I scramble to get all the vitamins I need. After entering our dining hall on the famous ‘Make A Difference Monday’ or as I like to call it ‘No Meat Monday’ I am forced to revert back to my ever-faithful PB&J sandwich.

Nevertheless, I do not worry about my obvious lack of vitamins in this meal, because when I go back to my dorm I take a multivitamin that provides me with my daily vitamins. It is a lifesaver and absolute must in one’s daily routine, in actual fact I probably don’t even need to eat any fruit or vegetables at all, right? Unfortunately, this is not the case, I could not be more wrong. Things are not as straightforward as they may seem. The purpose of this post is to evaluate both sides of the argument.

 

In the past we were lead to believe that dietary supplement are beneficial and offer no side effects, conversely in recent times we have been shown that this is not necessarily true.

supplements(uhaweb hartford)

Firstly, it is important for us to know that the Food and Drug Administration does not standardize dietary supplements as drugs. This means that they are not thoroughly tested before they are sold and they do not have to pass the minimal standards of manufacturing, leading to many products to be mislabeled. In many cases we see intentional outrageous claims.  For example, The New York Times tells us  “In 2003, researches tested “ayurvedic” remedies (traditional medicine) from health food stores throughout Boston. They found that 20 percent contained potentially harmful elements like lead, mercury or arsenic” (New York Times) these are toxins used in poison and insecticides. It is not a surprise that the FDA estimates that around 50,000 negative reactions to dietary supplements occur every year.

 

Another study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed some interesting results. 27 studies with a total of 450,000 participants showed that multivitamins had no beneficial effect in terms of preventing cancer or cardiovascular disease. They also found that smokers who took only beta-carotene supplements actually increased their risk of lung cancer. In my opinion, these are very alarming results indeed. One thing is for sure; eating vegetables will not increase your risk of lung cancer!

What is even more alarming is that, regardless of these results, the vitamin and supplement industry still manages to bring in $12 billion a year. I myself have spent hundreds of dollars on supplements, as I thought they would help me to acquire ‘gains’ in my sport. On the other hand, there are many groups of people that need supplements. Doctors advise people with anemia to take iron supplement pills, which usually increase iron levels in the blood after a few days. Pregnant women are told to take folic acid, which reduces the chance of a birth defect related to the neural tube and spinal cord.

According to WebMD Health News, “Women who get at least 400 micrograms of the vitamin from their diets during the first few weeks of pregnancy can reduce their unborn baby’s risk of neural tube defects (NTDs) by as much as 70%” (WebMD). Another supplement that meets the FDA standards is melatonin, which has been proved to help regulate sleep cycles.

 

So, next time you feel the need to increase your vitamin intake will you take the easy option of buying a pill in CVS or will you opt for an extra bowl of greens in the dining hall? Personally, I am going to be visiting the salad bar more often.

Veggies

(From health yahoo)

References

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/15/opinion/sunday/skip-the-supplements.html?_r=0

http://annals.org

http://www.webmd.com/baby/news/20021015/low-folic-acid-linked-to-miscarriage

http://www.fda.gov

http://health.yahoo.net/articles/nutrition/vitamin-d-supplements-bone-health-or-bogus

http://uhaweb.hartford.edu/MNUNEZ/Vegetables.html

 


{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Kyle March 6, 2014 at 8:20 pm

Vass, great article…very informative! Impressive research, impeccable sources, sound analysis! Fantastic job!

Reply

not Kyle again March 6, 2014 at 8:21 pm

Vass, outstanding work! Impressive research and analysis my friend! This is “A” level material. I certainly hope that you are rewarded appropriately.

Reply

Matt Maginnis March 6, 2014 at 8:48 pm

What if you have been taking a supplement for a long time and feel like you have noticed positive results? How would you know the negative effects that it can have?

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Mac March 6, 2014 at 9:14 pm

Very informative information, this has helped increase my sports performance! This article is very comprehensive, and I will be sure to share it with all of my friends.

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Horhay March 6, 2014 at 9:17 pm

A couple of concerns.

I’m not an athlete, professor or musician. Does this article still relate to me?

Why would you link to Anals.org? What is an Anal?

Love the work “Vass” (is there a shorter way of writing Vass?)

Reply

Jasper March 6, 2014 at 9:24 pm

I can’t believe that multivitamins don’t cure cancer. Waste of money in my book! Never buying one again!

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Oliver March 6, 2014 at 9:55 pm

Great article, very informative about this highly debated topic. I found it very interesting to see the different perspectives. I too have felt like I am not getting all of the nutrients I need from dinning hall food, looks like I have a new perspective on the topic!

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Zach Robbiano March 6, 2014 at 9:55 pm

Thank you for this wonderfully insightful blog!!! I look forward to reading future blogs from you. I think your opinion of natural nutrition over engineered nutrition is very compelling. I’ve always been a big fan of the idea that we don’t truly understand everything that is taking place in the digestion and absorption of our food and therefore by engineering our food to only have certain ingredients in them we are unknowingly depriving ourselves of so many possibly essential nutrients.

Its also important to mention that most of these engineered nutrition sources are supplements and are not regulated by the FDA so you don’t truly know whats in them.

Cheers,

Zach

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austin bald March 6, 2014 at 10:20 pm

wow i am really going to reconsider my diet and supplements after reading this!

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James March 6, 2014 at 10:29 pm

Very well done article! Such very good Information! Much appreciation for the message that your getting across here. WOW! Is all I can really say!

Reply

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