Don't Overdo The Supplements

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by ibisgirldc, Aug 29, 2005.

  1. ibisgirldc

    ibisgirldc New Member

    From my alma-mater's enews letter. Says that supplements should not be used in place of a proper diet... and that supplements to treat disease versus diet to treat disease isn't well founded.

    Shifting Gears On Supplements

    According to Tufts nutrition scientists Alice Lichtenstein and Robert Russell, research into individual nutritional supplements is a "double-edged sword" that should be wielded carefully.

    Boston [08.24.05] Could an increased focus on supplements be drawing attention away from the need for a healthy diet? Alice Lichtenstein, DSc, and Robert Russell, MD, of Tufts' USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging say yes, outlining their concerns in the July 20, 2005, edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

    "There are insufficient data to justify an alteration in public health policy from one that emphasizes a food-based diet to fulfill nutrient requirements and promote optimal health outcomes to one that emphasizes dietary supplementation," they wrote in JAMA.

    What is publicly said about the role of supplements in a healthy diet can have wide-ranging effects, according to the Tufts experts.

    "If the message perceived is that nutrient supplements provide an 'insurance policy' against an imperfect diet, we must consider what impact this message would have on the balance of food choices and, hence, overall nutritional status," they cautioned. "Absent from the general population’s consciousness is a consideration for the cumulative effect of multiple fortified foods on daily nutrient intake or the combination of these fortified foods with a multivitamin supplement."

    While science has made great strides in isolating nutrients for consumption both as food additives and supplements, Lichtenstein and Russell – senior scientists at the HNRCA and professors at Tufts' Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and School of Medicine – warned that such progress has the potential to backfire.

    "This advance has been a double-edged sword," they wrote. "It has allowed scientists to uncover the mechanisms by which nutrients sustain life and to quickly and inexpensively treat nutritional deficiencies. However, it has also allowed the possibility that the proper balance of purified vitamins and minerals could supplant the need for a varied diet to support life."

    Several studies have demonstrated the inability to rely on nutritional supplements as key factors in preventing or treating disease. The authors note multiple examples, including the debunking of the once-touted connection between vitamin E and the prevention of heart disease and another in which beta carotene was disproven to play a role in reducing the risk of lung cancer.

    "Instead of focusing on dietary patterns, most intervention trials have used high doses of single nutrients or nutrient cocktails in an attempt to prevent, affect, or mitigate a disease, intermediate measures of assessing disease risk, or disease outcomes. These results for the most part have been disappointing," the researchers stated.

    "The promise of high-dose vitamin pills has been increasingly contradicted by gold-standard scientific research," The Boston Globe wrote in August, citing the JAMA piece. and NBC also reported on the issues raised by Lichtenstein and Russell.

    Additionally, the concentrated use of nutrients to treat or prevent certain ailments can sometimes have harmful consequences. According to studies cited by the Tufts researchers, excess vitamin E could increase the occurrence of autoimmune diseases, and too much folic acid could cause dementia. Too much intake of certain nutrients can also inhibit the absorption or breaking down of other nutrients.

    "For reasons that scientists have yet to figure out, the body processes vitamins differently when they arrive in food than in pill form – probably because foods interact with each other in a way that may help nutrient absorption," the Globe explained. "So far, nutrition specialists said, scientists working in labs can't beat what nature does."

    Lichtenstein believes that the healthcare community must be more prudent before touting high doses of single supplements as a panacea or replacement for good eating habits.

    "We still have a lot to learn about the use of high doses of nutrients," she said. "The important point is to prevent the cart from getting in front of the horse; we need to validate the science before there is wide scale adoption by the general public... We can no longer automatically assume there will be no adverse consequences."

    This page printed from:
  2. Jeanne-in-Canada

    Jeanne-in-Canada New Member

    for some balancing perspective when I'm not so bushed.

  3. Dee50

    Dee50 New Member

    I now eat real food and I'm switching my boxer Ruby to real Food! She can not handle the toxic dog foods any of them.
    I've gotten so far off base-but I'm headed down the right road now and I feel so so much better.
    Thank you for posting this article.
  4. Lurlasgirl

    Lurlasgirl New Member

    but I also feel that it often isn't good enough. Certainly what I can buy at the store bears little or not resemblance to the organically grown meats, eggs, fruits and veggies I got when I lived on my grandparents' farm!

    At the same time, having seen first hand a friend of mine go into an almost catatonic state from taking too many high dose nutritional supplements (and they couldn't really figure out which ones caused the problem), I am not an advocate of THAT, either.

    As much as possible, I try to eat high quality, real foods, but I also supplement that (not replace it!) with a wide spectrum multiple. With the supplementation, I feel reasonably good most of the time. When I run out for a few days, my energy and feeling good diminish quickly.

    But I don't just think - because of my friend - I KNOW that taking too many high dose supplements can harm our bodies. So as always - moderation is the key ...

    [This Message was Edited on 08/30/2005]
  5. dreamharp

    dreamharp New Member

    Some of the sickest people I know take tons of vit/min.
  6. Jeanne-in-Canada

    Jeanne-in-Canada New Member

    Sure some of the sickest may be supplementing heavy. But the missing information is: how sick were they before they started supplementing.

    I for one, am less sick, by at least half.

  7. ibisgirldc

    ibisgirldc New Member

    I must be reading this article differently than some of you.

    To me, it says that healthy diet (not organics, per se... simply a well-balanced diet) cannot be replaced by supplements. So this idea that you can fail to consume enough of your RDA of vitamins and minerals and make it up with pills and elixers is nonsense. Your body needs to process these things in food form and not in tablets from the health food store. Similarly, the idea that these supplements have the same effect as medicines is unfounded. In fact, treating with supplements alone has been found to be useless or even dangerous.

    The article seems to be saying that these things need to be used in moderation, but in particular, more attention needs to be given to sick folk's diets and not just their dietary supplements. (I don't read that to say that a shot of B-12 is a bad thing. But it's saying that if you're B-12 deficient b/c of a lack of B-12 in teh diet, then the first thing to do is increase the B-12 via food. After that, supplements might be called for...)

    I would think that the lesson for us as FM/CFS patients is that a trip to a nutritionist or some research on diet isn't a bad idea. Make certain that you have a well-balanced diet as a baseline for yourself. And then simultaneously, work with your doctors about your medicines and supplements. You can make choices about what pills to put in your body, but don't skimp or forget how important your diet is...[This Message was Edited on 08/31/2005]
  8. JLH

    JLH New Member

    To be honest, this was the last post that I was going to read tonight, because it's almost 2:00 a.m. and I'm so tired that I have to go to bed now.

    Then, when I saw the length of the post, I thought that I would just read it tomorrow!

    However, I had this thought based on merely the Title of the post alone that I wanted to add -- even though it probably doesn't even relate to the article or all the other replies that I have not read yet! .....

    My comment is .... Don't Overdo the Supplements if you are taking a large quantity of prescription medications .... unless you have discussed ALL OF THEM with your doctors ..... because you just don't know how they will interact with your prescriptions!!

    Now, goodnight to all!

  9. Mikie

    Mikie Moderator

    Ralph, ever since I read that book on this subject, even I can understand why food is far superior to supplements for supplying nutrients. Supplements are fractionated vitamins which are extracted from food. They do not contain the other ingredients which allow the body to utilize them. That is why the dose in supplements is so high when very little food containing the nutrient is needed to achieve the same results in the body.

    Yes, our food supply is contaminated with toxins and grown in depleted soil, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't still try to eat as well as we can.

    Love, Mikie

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