Multi Vitamin's Death Risk & Vitamin E's Link To Prostate Cancer–My Two Cents. *If you take vitamins, please read!!!*
by Aimee E. Raupp, M.S., L.Ac. on Thursday, October 13, 2011 at 1:01pm
Some of you may have heard the news this week: Vitamins increase the death rate in women and vitamin E increases the incidence of prostate cancer in men. Whew. Awesome news, right?
First off– lets break down the settings behind these studies a bit. Secondly–let's discuss the fact that not all vitamins are created equal. And, lastly let's discuss the abosulte best sources of vitamins (I even included a breakdown of the vitamins I take daily).
The details from the multi-vitamin kills women studies are the following:
* The study was conducted on white women bw the ages of 55-69
*Intake of 900 mg or less of Calcium actually showed a REDUCED “death rate”
*The study only found a link between vitamins and increased risk of death; it didn't prove that the supplements caused the deaths.
*The increased “death rate” was linked specifically to the intake of iron, vitamin b6 and copper (all taken in synthetically derived forms).
Regarding the Vitamin E increasing the incidence of prostate cancer– here's the breakdown:
*A total of 521 additional prostate cancers were diagnosed in the group of men studied (35,500) over the 3-year period of the study. The following is the breakdown of the additional prostate cancers that occurred over the study period:
113 in the placebo group(meaning these guys took neither Vitamin E nor Selenium)
147 in the vitamin E group
143 in the selenium group
118 in the combination (vitamin E + Selenium) group
Ok, I admit, there is SLIGHT statistical significance showing the vitamin E taken solo can increase prostate cancer risk… so can Selenium taken solo. However, as you will read below: you should NEVER take just vitamin E (nor any individual micronutrient) alone!
Supplements that are provide single micronutrients– like Iron pills, B6 tablets, Vitamin E capsules, etc–should NEVER be taken alone.
Because, they need what are called “cofactors” in order for the body to assimilate and utilize these nutrients properly. These cofactors occur NATURALLY in foods and substances in NATURE. Without these cofactors, the vitamins you take can actually build up in your system and become toxic bc your body cannot break them down. Nature created these nutrients in a compound with numerous components–like a plant or a tree. Single micronutrients like vitamin E, B6 and Iron, etc have never EVER existed soley on there own. There is no calcium tree or an iron plant.
In addition, the majority of the vitamin supplements on the market are sythetically made and contain proven toxic additives and fillers (such as magneium stearate)! For instance– Iron supplements often come from pounded down frying pans (yeah, that's not toxic at all!) Calcium and other mineral supplements come from rock (oh yeah, totally digestable!?!). And, vitamin E (which has been studied extensively) can actually increase cancer risk when taken solely in the form of alpha-tocopherol acetate (which, btw, is the most popular form of vitamin E sold AND, it was the exact form used in the prostate cancer study).
Let's take vitamin E as the example here, vitamin E actually contains 8 antioxidants, 4 tocopherols and 4 tocotrienols. Not to get too scientific on you, but taking Vitamin E in the form of alpha-tocopherol acetate only gives you a very small percentage of the biologically active components of vitamin E. The absolute best form of vitamin E is from food sources like sunflower seed and spinach that are rich in the vitamin. This is just one example of how complicated these biologically active nutrients are. You can't take 1/16th of a compound and expect to get all of it's benefits.
When it comes to taking vitamins–buyer beware. There is a TON of toxic crap out there lining the shelves of your supermarkets and health food stores. The issue: the FDA doesn't regulate anything (not that I think the FDA regulations do squat.. but you get my point). The #1 best place to get your vitamins is from nutrient dense food like eggs and butter and nuts and seeds and veggies.
In my practice, I definitely take a “less is more” approach to vitamin supplementation as I realize that our industrial techniques and advances have compromised the soil and overall environment leaving our food sources (organic or not) somewhat lacking in certain nutrients. And, I also understand that some days its just impossible to get 3 servings of veggies.
So, when I do recommend vitamins, I ONLY recommend them from companies that use organic ingredients and derive their vitamin nutrients from “whole food sources”. This means that you get your calcium from Lithothamnion Calcareum, an algea plant that is high in calcium (read here for more info: http://www.newchapter.com/take-care/bone-strength-take-care). And, your iron and B6 from capsulated foods sources such a spirulina or dessicated and dried liver (yes, actual liver meat).
Through my extensive research there are only a handful of companies out there that I trust, such as New Chapter and Mega Foods (aka Innate). And personally I take the following supplements on a daily basis:
* Green Pasture's Fermented Cod Liver Oil: 3/day (http://www.drrons.com/fermented-blue-ice-cod-liver-oil.htm)
* Pure Synergy Superfoods: 3/day (http://www.thesynergycompany.com/pure_synergy.html)
* Liver pills: 2/day (http://www.drrons.com/thyroid-adrenal-liver-pancreas-glandulars.htm)
* Mega Foods (aka Innate) Flora 5-14: 1/day (http://megafood-vitamins.com/megaflora.html)
* Pure Encapulstions Vitamin D3: 5,000-10,000 iu's/day (http://pureencapsulations.com/itemdy00.asp?T1=VDL)
Notice, I don't take a multi ( I look at the Pure Synergy as my multi). I also don't take a calcium supplement as I get plenty of calcium from my diet and a good amount from the Pure Synergy product. The liver pills give me a great amount of all B vitamins, folic acid (folate), vitamin A and DHA. The cod liver oil pills give me vitamin d and my omega fatty acids. And, the probiotcs give my body all the good healthy bacteria I can need (in addition I eat some fermented food or beverage daily). I take the extra vitamin D3 (its most absorbable form) in the months where I get the least sunlight. Note: I take the solo vitamin D3 always in conjunction with my fermented cod liver oil so that the D3 can be absorbed by my body.
The take home: It's no wonder these studies showed an increased risk of death and cancer–as the vitamins used in the studies were from sources that are synthetic and toxic in their own right. However, these studies hold very little water as they are just too many variables. And lastlyl, the negative outcomes were greatly exaggerated by the media. Being a scientist once upon a time, I know the in's and out's of research and I've unfortunately learned to question most all research papers published as the results are almost always skewed. Not to say they aren't useful.. but be an educated consumer and look deeper into the research then what the media puts out there.
The bottom line: Take whole food based vitamins and eat a nutrient rich diet… and, don't believe the hype!