Vitamins in the News, What do I Believe?

Recent Articles in the News

I try to keep current and subscribe to new articles on nutrition.What I find so amazing is how often in the same week you get such conflicting information. Just look at some of these recent examples.

Older Adults and Supplements

Do Older Adults Need Vitamins, Supplements?

In the above article published on WebMD the author takes supplements to task saying people above 50 don’t need them because they can get them in their diet. Believe me I believe in a good diet but how many people really eat 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables a day?

The article expresses concern for the cost of these vitamins. If we are concerned about expenses for older Americans what about prescription drug cost.

What about the articles below? What should older adults believe?

Vitamins and Minerals for Stroke

Low Vitamin D Level Increases Risk for Aging Women of Alzheimer’s, Cognitive Decline

These two articles arrived the very same week Vitamins and Minerals for Stroke discusses how certain vitamins and minerals prevent stroke (certainly helpful if you are an older adult).

The second article discusses how vitamin D can reduce Alzheimer’s and cognitive decline in older adults. .

More Confusion

Vitamins D Supplements Can Save Your Life

Study: Vitamins don’t lower heart risks in men

The first article discusses vitamin D lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease. Article two discusses how vitamins don’t lower risk.

What are we to make of all of this? It is easy to lose trust in both news and research.

Let’s Closely Examine another Article

High-Dose Vitamins Don’t Fight HIV and Can Raise Liver Levels

What I Could Conclude from this Article

  • Vitamins don’t help HIV
  • Vitamins are going to hurt my liver if I have HIV

This article published on on Nov. 28 2012 is referencing an article published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in October of 2012. See the title of the article as it appears in JAMA.

Effect of high-dose vs standard-dose multivitamin supplementation at the initiation of HAART on HIV disease progression and mortality in Tanzania: a randomized controlled trial.

 What I Could Conclude from this Article
  • We are looking at multivitamins not vitamins
  • The control group is also getting a multivitamin
  • The patients are from a third world nation
  • The patients are also being treated with HAART (Highly active antiretroviral treatment)

As you can see from the original article that the control group itself used standard-dose multivitamins. Also this study was at the initiation of HAART (Highly active antiretroviral treatment) so we are looking at patients on specific medications for HIV and how those medications interact with high dose multivitamins. Also the study was done in Tanzania which is a 3rd world country and the nutritional status of most patients is likely to be compromised.

Probably part of the reason for looking at multivitamins in the treatment of HIV was due to this study.

 Questions I Would Ask
  • What would they consider a multivitamins. What specific vitamins are they using in the multivitamin.
  • What fat soluble vitamins are they using as fat soluble tend to end up in liver while water soluble tend to pass out of system more quickly.
  • What do they consider high dosage?
  • Does HAART therapy have any risk to the liver? (yes)
  • Given that the study was performed in a 3rd world nation. How much of this is applicable to people in developed countries with a good nutritional status.
  • Who is funding this study
  • Is there anyone who could financially benefit from this study

 A headline I could live with……

            A Comparative Look at High Dosage Multivitamins vs. Low Dose Multivitamins When Treating Patients with Antiretroviral Medication.

 When compared to High-Dose Vitamins Don’t Fight HIV and Can Raise Liver Levels the above headline helps you understand a few more specifics. You can understand that it is multivitamins they are examining and not just but also antiretroviral medication.

 A Study on Multivitamins and HIV and How it can Delay Antiretroviral Therapy

A randomized trial of multivitamin supplements and HIV disease progression and mortality.

The conclusion says it all, “multivitamin supplements delay the progression of HIV disease and provide an effective, low-cost means of delaying the initiation of antiretroviral therapy in HIV-infected women”.

Conclusions about Multivitamins

-Multivitamins are helpful for HIV infection

-Multivitamins can slow the progression of HIV

-Multivitamins can delay antiretroviral therapy and save money

To me the last sentence explains a lot of motivation. Multivitamins can save money from being spent on drugs.

However even this study leads to many questions. What are the vitamins? What dosages? The study was done in Tanzania, so are the results related to impaired nutritional status.

Never be afraid of either the questions or the answers. Just make sure you keep on asking what does  this really mean.





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About John Montague DC

John Montague DC is the owner of WebVitamins. He is active in the industry and is currently president of the NPA East.

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