Sunday, February 15, 2009

If you want to cut costs, look at vitamin purchases

In an article on Yahoo News, a John Hopkins University physician questions whether all the money Americans spend on vitamins are really worth the cost -- because there is no proof of any benefit.

And there is emerging truth of vitamins not doing any good to prevent things such as cancer and stroke and heart attack.

But with any advice, always check with your physician before making such advice part of your actual lifestyle and health choices.

Here is an excerpt of what was written by Dr. Simeon Margolis, a professor of medicine and biological chemistry at John Hopkins:

Advertisements with tantalizing promises of improved health, prevention of cancer and heart disease, and greater energy have lured millions of Americans to spend billions of dollars on the purchase of multivitamins.

An article in the February 9 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine reported that multivitamin use did not protect the 161,808 postmenopausal women enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative Study from common forms of cancer, heart attacks, or strokes. And the numbers of deaths during the 8 years of the study were the same in vitamin users as in non-users. Still, it is important to recognize that this was an observational study, not a more meaningful clinical trial.

Although these findings apply only to women, other studies have failed to show benefits of multivitamins in older men.

These results are not at all surprising for several reasons. No large study has shown that multivitamins significantly benefit healthy men and women. In addition, for some years physicians prescribed folic acid and vitamins B12 and B6 in the hopes of preventing heart attacks and strokes by lowering blood levels of homocysteine. (High blood levels of homocysteine are associated with an increased risk of coronary and other vascular diseases.)

A number of recent studies, however, have shown that, while these vitamins do lower homocysteine levels, they do not prevent heart attacks or strokes.

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