Mullberry Whine

poured out before bed

What I Read Wednesday: VITAMEATAVEGA– Now Wait a MINute!


…another well known nutter (but we all love her, no?)…

You can fairly readily recognize those in a patient population who fall among the nutters of the medical world.  Upon opening their charts, a long (long) list of drug ‘allergies’ with side effects like ‘weakness,’ ‘fatigue,’ ‘fogginess,’ and ‘dizziness’ (my personal ‘favorite’ chief complaint) pop intrusively up in scarlet bold print.  Yet, when these patients enter the exam room, it is with a plastic grocery bag chock full of a broad range of ‘health’ supplements, variously acquired online, from television adverts, or – my ‘favorite’ – from close friends who swear by them.

(Those of you in the medical field immediately had one or two such token patients pop intrusively into your mind, didn’t you.  You clever, judgy providers.)

Now, vitamins are – well, vital.  They are absolutely necessary for human metabolism – both the equally important catabolic and anabolic arms.  But, good nutters of the world, too much of a good thing is not necessary.  Not vital.  Not good.  Bad, actually.

There have been a number of very good studies which connect the overuse of vitamins and those hyped-up antioxidants (when you read that, did you hear it in your head in classic infomercial tones?  I did…) to increased mortality, to cancer, and to heart disease (those words I always hear in Charlie Gibson’s voice, strangely).  Luckily for me, Paul Offit of the New York Times took his New York time to summarize the findings of a few of these original scientific publications in his own recent article Don’t Take Your Vitamins.  He also explains just why it is that the FDA cannot legally mandate health warning placements on vitamin and supplement bottle labels – unlike every other pill out there.  Those clever, judgy vitamin manufacturers.

Shocking, and disgusting, I know.

So, the next time your buddy ol’ pal touts the newest health supplement on the market, think about the antioxidant paradox (and maybe mention it to your pal).  Besides, you don’t really want to be that memorable nutter do you?

6 comments on “What I Read Wednesday: VITAMEATAVEGA– Now Wait a MINute!

  1. kindredspirit23
    June 12, 2013

    I also have done a lot of reading stating that the compounds used to make a lot of supplements and vitamins are such that they merely pass through the system without helping at all. I do take supplements, but they are few and I have considered them before use to try and make certain they help not hurt.

    • mullberrywhine
      June 13, 2013

      It is true that some preparations of megavitamins will simply pass through the GI tract once concentrations reach the threshold for intestinal absorption – but studies suggest that many people do have the capacity to absorb amounts of certain vitamins which lead to greater than recommended levels in the body. We still do not know exactly how vitamin overdose leads to increased cancer, heart disease, and earlier mortality, or at what levels these effects take place so, as with all unknowns in medicine, the type of caution you describe is necessary. It’s helpful to know the recommended daily intake of each vitamin or supplement you’re considering taking, and to refrain from using brands which provide more than is recommended. Unfortunately, unlike you Scott, patients often don’t understand that they should approach the use of vitamins and supplements with the same care as they would in considering a new prescription drug.

  2. Beth Routledge
    June 12, 2013

    My personal favourite was the patient with the allergy to statins. The alleged nature of this particular allergy? They made her hair curlier.

  3. ahyesplans
    June 22, 2013

    Once I took nutrition, I stopped taking my vitamins…

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