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As a professional health coach concerned with the health and well-being of my clients it is my intention to improve your well-being and longevity by using the principles of nutrition, fitness, diet, lifestyle dynamics, and anti-aging medicine.
This is another area of nutritional medicine that gets a great deal of attention. Many people also ask me if they should take additional nutrients in supplement form to prevent various types of chronic diseases. My answer varies depending upon the individual circumstances; however some new research findings had shed light upon this topic.
The results of a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine may give approximately 50% of the American population who currently take supplements for primary prevention pause. Researchers from Kaiser Permanente Centre for Health Research looked at a total of 26 studies published since 2005 which evaluated studies that included the use of individual nutrients like vitamins and minerals.
The researchers looked at studies which evaluated nutrients utilized in various combinations for the primary prevention of cancer, cardiovascular disease and the effects upon mortality rates. The populations of participants studied were healthy adults.
One of the results reported included 2 large clinical trials involving 27,658 male subjects which indicated that the use of multivitamins had a lower incidence of cancer after 10 years of follow-up. Another similar study involving female participants showed no benefit or harm after taking multi-vitamins to prevent cancer. Studies that involved the use of single or paired vitamins or minerals were not able to show any clear benefit or harm to the study participants.
Unfortunately, these types of systematic reviews of the data involving the use of nutrients for primary prevention of chronic disease are frequently misleading. Thus, so are the recommendations. In the case of the noted study, the authors suggest that “healthy” people do not need to take supplements for primary prevention as there is there is a limited amount of evidence to support it.
Like so many of the other reviews I have read, this one is no different. This review only looked at studies that considered fair or good quality trials when considering any recognized benefit. The analysis included adults with no known nutritional deficiency but there was no available information regarding their current health status.
The studies considered in this case involved subjects who were older, involved various types of supplements, taken in various combinations, dosages and for various durations. These studies were also done over variable time-periods with different follow-up periods.
Can you understand why there would be no clear answer to this question in the published literature?
There is, however bias in the reporting of the findings of this research. Although the human research has not shown a clear benefit in the use of vitamins and minerals on the prevention of cancer and heart disease, it may be rather presumptuous to assume that these is no potential benefit to people.
If you consider the other data which has shown a potential benefit in disease reduction or in the decrease in inflammation or free-radical production which are the basic mechanisms of chronic disease development, the use of cheap and safe vitamins may not be such a bad idea!
Remember….your quality of life is the measurement of successful living regardless of your age.
Dr. Kevin. J. McLaughlin
Clinical Director: The Vitality Project