Saturday, December 06, 2008

Dietary Supplements, To Take Or Not To Take

On November 20, Tara Parker-Pope (TPP) started a lively debate about vitamins on her New York Times Well Blog:
News Keeps Getting Worse for Vitamins

To date, there are 550 comments ... pro vitamin use, against it, and everything in between. It's an evocative topic.

Studies that show supplements don't offer much benefit, or at times may be harmful, have been accumulating in peer-reviewed literature. TPP wrote a nice summary.

That doesn't mean supplements aren't beneficial, just that these studies cast doubt on the benefits of certain ones. All studies can be criticized ... motives, conflicts of interest, study design, participants, baseline characteristics, quality/quantity of tested substance. All studies are flawed. But as the body of evidence against taking supplements grows, it becomes hard to ignore, for me at least.

The results of our informal poll from last week (to the right in the sidebar), show that most people who read this blog (and who voted) take dietary supplements either daily or on a set schedule (57%). That was my vote. Although I've been reconsidering supplement use, especially against the backdrop of recent contamination discoveries. I would make a small, honest wager that some protein supplements in this country are contaminated with melamine, and that many supplements incorporate genetically engineered ingredients. The further you remove nutrients from their raw, unprocessed state, the greater the risk for contamination.
Photo: Bix

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