An analysis of 68 studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association just concluded that taking vitamins A and E, and beta carotene, increase your risk of dying. Now the media is shouting this warning to everyone who is taking nutritional supplements. But as usual, the headlines don?t accurately portray the findings.
These studies were flawed. Some used very high amounts of antioxidants, while others used the RDA amounts. One study followed more than 100 elderly residents in a nursing home - where the food is often overcooked and lacking in nutrients. Then they attributed their deaths to the antioxidants they were taking. Another study included in this analysis followed 22,071 male doctors for 12 years. The results of this study may not apply to women at all. And we know from other studies that male doctors usually don?t live as long as the rest of the population.
More than two-thirds of the studies followed people with such illnesses as cancer and heart disease. When they died, their deaths were attributed to taking antioxidants. Puleeze! When studies use terminally ill patients, it isn?t surprising that they die, even when they?re taking lots of good-quality supplements.
But that?s not what the people in these studies were taking. They were taking synthetic antioxidants.
Synthetic supplements are not absorbed and utilized in the same way as natural supplements. We?ve seen this difference with hormones. Synthetic estrogens and progestins have side effects not found with bioidentical hormones. So the true results of this large analysis should read: Synthetic antioxidants increase your risk of dying.
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There?s no one who?s interested and financially willing to fund a study showing the effects of small, medium, and large amounts of natural antioxidant supplements on healthy people. We already know that a diet of fruits and vegetables, which are rich in these and other antioxidants can help you live longer. So I still say that supplements are the best health insurance you can buy. Invest in high-quality natural supplements and organic produce. Don?t be swayed by the media?s hype surrounding flawed studies. They may sound scientific, but most of them use poor science.
Your voice of reason in Women's Health,
Dr. Janet Zand
JAMA, February 2007