Concluding that vitamins are bad based on two recent studies, is like giving people high doses of random medications for years at a time, and then concluding that medications are bad because people got sick and died.
The two recent studies (one in older women taking many vitamins, and another in men taking high doses of vitamin E) reported a slightly higher death rate from taking high doses of vitamins, many of which were synthetic, of questionable quality, and randomly consumed whether people needed them on not. This approach to taking vitamins is distinctly different than the logical, rational approach of taking low doses of natural, “biologically active” supplements that are matched to the individual needs of each person.
The proper and safe use of vitamin supplementation is a science, and there are doctors who are trained in this science. For example, I hold two post-graduate Diplomate titles specifically in the field of Nutrition, as a “Diplomate of the College of Clinical Nutrition of the American Association of Integrative Medicine” and as a “Diplomate of the Chiropractic Board of Clinical Nutrition”. I can tell you that it is not wise to randomly take high doses of vitamins, regardless of their quality, and I can say the same for medications. Presumably, if you take medications you do so at the direction of an expert, your physician, who prescribes the specific medication for you and then periodically re-evaluates your needs.
Vitamin supplementation can be a powerful tool for restoring and maintaing health and improving human performance, but the matching process is absolutely critical to insure that each person is taking the right vitamins for them. Furthermore, the periodic re-evalution of one’s supplementation is a necessity, because vitamins alter your body chemistry, and the needs of your body change over time.
Since one of the recent studies involved the use of high doses of vitamin E and the risk of prostate cancer, I am including an excerpt from page 201 of my book, Your Inner Pharmacy, that was published in 2006: ”There is a big difference between taking megadoses of a few nutrients—an approach I rarely recommend—and the common (and safe) supplementation of low dosages of a variety of high-quality, biologically active nutrients. Most of us will benefit from the latter, which provides many nutrients that are both missing from foods and are increasingly needed due to demanding lifestyles, and which does not overload the body with any one nutrient.
High doses of vitamin E (above 400 IUs a day) may often have many effects opposite to the same vitamin in lower doses. The amount you take determines its effects. For example, while lower doses of vitamin E will often help decrease blood pressure, amounts higher than 400 units a day can raise blood pressure. Lower doses help to decrease inflammation, while higher doses actually block the Inner Pharmacy’s production of anti-inflammatory chemicals and lead to further inflammation. Throughout my career, I have reduced the vitamin E intake of many patients who were influenced by the typical “more-is-better” mentality.
Since certain health problems can be aggravated by high doses of vitamin E, some people worry that vitamin E is harmful, which is not true. This misunderstanding then creates a phobia of taking vitamins.”
My advice is to acknowledge that vitamins do affect the physiology of the body and to seek out an expert who can guide you in the safe, optimal, and efficient use of vitamin supplementation to support your own body and lifestyle. If you don’t know where to start, check out the health questionnaire on my website, yourinnerpharmacy.com, which will help to match you to a set of high quality, low-dose, natural supplements that you can take for 4-6 weeks and then re-evaluate. You can also schedule a consultation through my office, which is an opportunity to review your specific health history and concerns. Either of these approaches is strikingly different from that which recently received so much media attention.