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Thread: Interesting article about pros and cons of suppliments in high doses

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    Flagg's Avatar
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    Interesting article about pros and cons of suppliments in high doses

    BBC News - The problem with taking too many vitamins

    Not sure if this is more "lounge" material worthy, but I found this quite an interesting read.

    Love to hear your opinions on this Aust!

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    Interesting read but not a very decisive and clear warning from the writer although is does make you think. Large doses of most things will cause harm I could imagine.
    I've lost count of the articles I've read that change week in week out. This is good for you, no this is bad for you etc.
    But thanx for the read Flagg always appreciated

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    What's the overview of it?

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    I'm still at work, but I will reply in detail tonight.
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    In November 1912 a party of three men and 16 dogs set out from a remote base in eastern Antarctica to explore a series of crevasses many hundreds of miles away.


    Three months later just one of the men returned. His name was Douglas Mawson. His skin was peeling off and his hair was falling out. He had lost almost half his body weight. He recounted what Sir Edmund Hillary described as "the greatest story of lone survival in the history of polar exploration".


    A month into their journey, one of the team, along with the tent, most of the provisions and six dogs plunged into a crevasse, never to be seen again. Mawson and the other surviving member, Xavier Mertz, started to return to base, surviving in part by eating the remaining dogs. After a few weeks Mertz developed stomach pains and diarrhoea. Then his skin started to peel off and his hair fell out. He died incontinent and delirious a few days later.

    Mawson suffered similar symptoms. With the kind of understatement typical of his generation of polar explorers he described the skin of the soles of his feet peeling off: "The sight of my feet gave me quite a shock, for the thickened skin of the soles had separated in each case as a complete layer... The new skin underneath was very much abraded and raw."



    It was the suffering of early explorers and sailors that motivated the first studies of vitamins and their deficiency diseases.


    At first sight Mawson's story seems to be another such tale - starvation combined with a lack of some vital nutrient. In fact, Mawson's description of his symptoms is an almost textbook description of vitamin A overdose - probably from eating dog liver. As little as 100g of husky liver could give a hungry explorer a fatal dose.


    Mawson lived to the decent age of 76 but in his story we find the cautionary tale for our times - vitamins can be very bad for you.


    This piece is about what we have learned about vitamin supplements in the last few years - if you are healthy, and you live in a country like the UK, taking multi-vitamins and high-dose antioxidants may shorten your life.
    That's a great story. I can appreciate the risks and sacrifices. Unfortunately, it's 99 years old. Today, we should speak more of the purpose/benefit of their ventures and less about analyzing their illnesses. Many of things we knew nothing about back then. Vitamin A wasn't discovered until 1914. There are nationalities that eat dogs today. While I find this disturbing (I am not judging, just a fan of dogs), there are no reported illnesses. Dogs aren't so special that they pack a greater deal of Vitamin A than other mammals.

    Furthermore; there are more studies indicating cause of death was a combination of exhaustion and malnutrition. Well, I'm no rocket scientist, but that makes sense to me. Yet, I will continue to discount our abilities from a century ago.

    We need to remember that when you're in a state of incredibly poor health, anything slightly toxic and/or could tentatively cause unnoticeable side effects would be very dangerous. Unlike a healthy person who would almost instantly recover, in most cases without rescue. It's like an immunodeficient patient catching a cold. It's not like a healthy person catching a cold. Got it?

    The comment stating "Lived to a decent age of 76" is no cautionary tale. That's appropriate for those times. We are in fact, living longer today. Why? Because we know better, our health care is better (not talking about health care systems), our doctors are more knowledgeable, people are wiser and we identify/diagnose symptoms faster.


    For most of us, for most of the time, they're unhealthy. "Argh!" I hear you say, "I spend loads of money on them and the claims on the packet are really persuasive. Everything, from my full head of hair to my sex life, depends on them!"


    I want to get into this in a bit more detail because the vitamin companies certainly don't agree with me. So why do we believe they're useful and why do we take them?


    Vitamins are essential for life, and there are groups of people even in the UK who benefit from specific supplementation, but general unsupervised vitamin pill-popping is more than just a waste of money. The problem is that we all feel very warm and fuzzy about vitamins because, firstly, the tales of deficiency are so horrific, secondly, we read breakfast cereal packs and thirdly, a double-Nobel laureate called Linus Pauling liked vitamin C in vast, vast doses.


    All this is packaged by the people now selling us vitamins over the counter into that most beguiling of all logical falsehoods - if a little is good, then more must be better.


    Now I knew the names of the most obscure vitamins long before medical school because I have always had a fondness for the kind of multicoloured, artificially flavoured breakfast cereals that are marketed using a combination of unlikely cartoon animals and claims of being "vitamin and mineral-enriched".


    And it has to be said that this vitamin and mineral enrichment of staple food has been one of the most effective public health interventions in history. It continues to save countless lives per year even in Europe.


    So, while you shouldn't eat dog liver in Antarctica, vitamin A deficiency hugely increases the risk of blindness and death in children with measles and diarrhoea in developing countries. So the World Health Organization recommends a very strict amount and cautions that higher doses can cause birth defects in early pregnancy among other problems.
    I agree. Lots of marketing tactics with supplements. But what industry refrains from marketing tactics? Do you really and truly believe that supplement giants have your best interest? Do you think that the car manufacturers really and truly want to help you get from point A to point B? Do you think that Apple wants you to be able to communicate better so that your life is enriched with convenience? They're all businesses and ultimately in it for the money. The only reason you see more and more ads, technology, etc... is money. That's how money is generated. So forget about what's on the bottle sticker. We can research the products and know when the labels says "INSTANT FAT LOSS", that it's not true. Unless you're the most gullible person on earth, in which case, please come by my place, I have a magic wand that makes you millions in cash. It's on sale for $20, but wait! Buy in the next 5 minutes and I'll include this wand cleaner...

    Moving on...

    Unsupervised pill-popping? Really? You had to throw "unsupervised" in there so that the reader physiologically thinks of kids being harmed? What a joke. We allow 18 year olds to smoke cigarettes "Unsupervised", yet we consider them adults. If you're referencing a doctors supervision, then fight to have them prescribed. You can't, because they're not dangerous and most are excreted beyond capacity and harmless.

    "Popping" anything is unhealthy. Assuming popping references abuse. Did you know you can literally breath too much? Fact. Air can be harmful. Water and chicken can kill you, too. This argument is entirely fruitless. Oh... and grapes can kill you as well (pun intended).

    Linus Pauling is absolutely a legend. You better believe it. Like any and almost ALL mad scientists, they tend to get a little loopy towards their late years. But we can;t discount this man, ever. By the way, this article author pretty much copied another author with the same allegations. Unoriginal and typical of those who aren't self-taught in many ways.

    Vitamin C does not prevent cancer. We know that today. Again, we are far more advanced today. So instead of crushing the man who helped heal many common illnesses, let's just move forward. He did the best he could with the tools he had at the time. Einstein isn't so smart compared to Andrew Wiles from this day and age. And we're all pretty stupid compared to 100 years from now. It would be arrogant to think otherwise.

    But thanks for allowing a mere two sentences on deficient in your lengthy article.

    Looking at any one individual study won't be very revealing to answer the question of whether vitamin supplementation is good for you. They're densely scientific and the conflicts of interest can be very hard to spot.


    For the answer you have to turn to what are called "systematic review papers". This is where independent scientists gather up all the available data and re-analyse it to answer big questions.


    Here's what a couple of them say:


    "We found no evidence to support antioxidant supplements for primary or secondary prevention [of diseases of any kind]. Beta-carotene and vitamin E seem to increase mortality, and so may higher doses of vitamin A. Antioxidant supplements need to be considered as medicinal products and should undergo sufficient evaluation before marketing". (See references below).


    Just to be clear - "increase mortality" - that means they're killing you. These are powerfully bioactive compounds but they're not regulated in the same way as drugs. Whatever you think about the regulation there should surely be a warning on the pack if there's data saying they're bad for us.
    Systematic review papers, or observational conclusory papers are great. That's why far more evidence exists than what is stated above. Guess what? I've read the study. It involves "random" data pulled from results of 837,470 subjects. If that's not mind-boggling, consider that it was done by 3 individuals. Likely who know each other. Very bias-risky and somewhat incomprehensible. I doubt their entire lives were dedicated to this systematic paper, I can only imagine it would take that long.

    Friendly reminder, again... people live longer today than they ever have.

    The next question is - why are they bad for us? It's very hard to pick apart the data, partly because vitamins are a fabulously diverse group of chemicals.

    I'm going to include what people normally refer to as minerals under the heading of vitamins. They're required in the diet not for energy, but as chemical partners for the enzymes involved in the body's metabolism - cell production, tissue repair, and other vital processes.


    Their functions are understood largely by their deficiency diseases so we're not exactly sure of precisely what they all do or how they interact. Antioxidants provide a nice example. They soak up the very toxic, chemically-reactive by-products of metabolism called free radicals. These free radicals, left unchecked, can cause damage to DNA and may be linked to cancer.


    Your cells are full of antioxidants but surely taking more would be better? Right? Keep those cancer causing radicals under control? Well, unfortunately, your body's immune system fights infections by using free radicals to kill bugs. Exactly what effect huge quantities of extra antioxidants could have on this is not clear but it's easy to imagine that it might not be good and you could get more infections.


    Vitamin A is linked to increasing lung cancer in smokers. Excess zinc is linked to reduced immune function. Long-term excessive intake of manganese is linked to muscle and nerve disorders in older people. Niacin in excess has been linked to cell damage. And so on.
    No. It's not hard to pick the data. It's hard for you because you're digging deep to find negative things about vitamins, trying anything and everything possible to come up with a "Internet/TV traffic producing article". You have a business to run, I understand.

    Man, if I hear one more person say "Linked to cancer", I'm going to kill myself. Not realy.

    Wow. Really? A smoker could be at risk of lung cancer is he/she takes vitamin A? Are you guys here on steroid .com listeiniing to this crap? Am I alone or is this guy running out of things to say? How about cigarettes cause cancer? Why go further? My ears just got hot, that means I'm getting kind of pissed off and wish this author was in front of me to debate this in person. Disgusting and amateur attempt at linking vitamins to ill effects.

    Excess zinc? But you care about my health, that's the purpose of your article, right? So tell me how much is 'excess'! I'll do it for you. 30 to 50 mg daily is a great dose for anyone and everyone on earth. 150mg daily for more than several years is harmful. So avoid that. And I'm talking supplementation, not diet.

    Anything in excess is dangerous. We already know that. Remember the water and chicken comment above? Yeah, both in excess can kill you.

    And it gets more complicated still when you start mixing everything up in one tablet. For example, different minerals compete for absorption. If you take large quantities of calcium you won't be able to absorb your iron. If you take large quantities of iron you won't be able to absorb zinc. If you take vitamin C you'll reduce your copper level.


    So it's not just that taking lots of one thing is not good for you, it's that it may cause a dangerous reduction in something else even if you are also supplementing that. To work out the optimal ratios is all but impossible although some manufactures claim to have worked it out.
    Wait a minute. Are we talking about excessive supplementation and their harmful effects? Why are you talking about vitamins and minerals competing for absorption? That means you're NOT getting the dose. Isn't that what you want anyway? So what if they compete. SO WHAT? Who cares. Frankly, due to malabsorption in the majority of the human race (yes, you, you reading this, you have malabsorption to a degree), your competition drawbacks are negligible.

    And you're wrong. Vitamin C intake does NOT cause copper levels to drop. When your body utilizes both vitamin C and Zinc is when copper levels drop. Not your intake, genius. Intake actually prevents this issue. You need to replenish. According to this author, you should avoid vitamin C intake altogether. No more oranges for you.

    Your GP may also recommend supplements if you need them for a medical condition. If you decide to take supplements, stick to within the RDA, unless you've had guidance from a state-registered dietician or clinical nutritionist to exceed the dose. If you've got questions about dosage levels, consult a state-registered dietician or clinical nutritionist.
    Ok. I'll stick to RDA, which was based on a 2000 calorie diet. Because all humans are made equal. RDA is garbage and makes ZERO sense whatsoever.

    Let me explain the 3 stages of ones body:

    1. Deficient
    2. Healthy
    3. Optimum

    Deficient is indicative or a poor nutritional plan with no diversity. That's a self-induced issue that can be fixed incredibly easily with food. Deficient patients should never rely on supplements long term and should fix their diets.

    Healthy means your blood levels are in range. (Ranges that I do not mostly agree with), but healthy, nonetheless. A healthy state is a state where your body is able to survive with no ill effects. Nothing wrong with that, love this state. If that's you, good job eating properly. But that is not for me.

    Optimum is where I want to be. This is where selective benefits of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and herbs are amplified. This does not mean any and every single compound. But ones that we know for a fact, from experience, clinical trials and studies continue to benefit beyond the suggested healthy ranges. All done with no ill effects whatsoever. Emphasis on whatsoever. But even optimum levels need to be handled smartly. Vitamin C is fine in doses of 3000 to 10,000 mg daily. But what nutcase would take 50,000 orally? Moderation applies to optimum levels as well.

    Magnesium is fine under 1.5 grams. It's really not even harmful at 5 grams, but you'll be on the toilet all day. It won't shorten your life.

    10 grams of Arginine makes me sick to my stomach, but I won't die. Because it makes my stomach turn, I use the cluster of crap in my head called a brain, and I back off the dose. My max dose of arginine is 9 grams at once. No more than 20 grams daily. Some folks can handle more, go for it. Nothing but benefit, I assure you.

    B12 is excreted beyond capacity. 200 to 1100 pg/ml? That's a joke. Try 4,000+ and then tell me how you feel. Also show me any legitimate study that indicates ill effects. Massive, unfathomable doses have been studies with zero, absolutely zero harm.

    In closing, this is just another scare tactic to generate traffic/profit. Just like the bogus L-Carnitine study that linked red meat to heart disease. Garbage for the mind.

    Trust me, I will tell you if you're taking too much of something. Even I have limits and we all agree, excess is dangerous with anything we consume. The only difference is defining excess. I can define it, the author of that article cannot, because the data does not exist to benefit his claims.

    Have a powerful day.
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    "It's human nature in a 'more is better' society full of a younger generation that expects instant gratification, then complain when they don't get it. The problem will get far worse before it gets better". ~ kelkel

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    Great post all info is valuable.
    I'm sorry but i have to interject...I Know for a fact from REAL survival training that if you eat a liver from of a harsh weather animal it needs to be rationed. If you eat a Polar Bear's liver it WILL KILL YOU (Vit A OD)... raindeer, wolves, dogs, Jrabbits in that order need to be rationed as far as the liver (full of nutrients, but extreme levels) I NEED to say that the OG post is similare to giving a dehydrated man alot of water. It can kill him however he does need water. I know tons of friends and family that eat tons of vits to combat a less perfect diet. I think that you piss out OD vits unless you continue to mass OD ex. my brother OD on vit C and all that happened is he turened orange for about a week and a half. This took 1.5 years to OD at huge mg dosage.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FRITZ BLITZ View Post
    Great post all info is valuable.
    I'm sorry but i have to interject...I Know for a fact from REAL survival training that if you eat a liver from of a harsh weather animal it needs to be rationed. If you eat a Polar Bear's liver it WILL KILL YOU (Vit A OD)... raindeer, wolves, dogs, Jrabbits in that order need to be rationed as far as the liver (full of nutrients, but extreme levels) I NEED to say that the OG post is similare to giving a dehydrated man alot of water. It can kill him however he does need water. I know tons of friends and family that eat tons of vits to combat a less perfect diet. I think that you piss out OD vits unless you continue to mass OD ex. my brother OD on vit C and all that happened is he turened orange for about a week and a half. This took 1.5 years to OD at huge mg dosage.
    Ok... Not sure what the "Sorry, have to interject", means. Your fact of survival was from 100 years ago? Prior to Vitamin A being discovered?

    Well of course. It's like eating blowfish that's not prepared properly. It's like wiping your ass with Poison Ivy while you're in the woods, etc... That's a lack of knowledge. Common sense doesn't always work... We benefited nothing from the author citing the story. In fact, it counters the authors purpose and makes him look even more stupid.

    Hey guess what... Before the wheel was invented, people would move things around by carrying them. What a bunch of idiots!!!

    You see my point? Use the knowledge and don't dwell over people who didn't have the right tools to make more informed decisions. That story doesn't equate to todays supplementation regimens.

    Nonsensical theatrics.
    Last edited by austinite; 10-19-2013 at 06:59 AM.
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    So I didn't really read all this but is the moral of the story same as always????



    To much of anything is bad for you???!!!???

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    Quote Originally Posted by t-dogg View Post
    So I didn't really read all this but is the moral of the story same as always????

    To much of anything is bad for you???!!!???
    Yeah. Same story we've been hearing since B.C.
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    Docd187123 is offline Banned
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    Moderation is the key. And to everyone who says you piss out vitamins or whatever...have you had your urine tested to actually see whether it's the vitamins that are being pissed away or is it the metabolites/by-products ?
    austinite likes this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by austinite
    Yeah. Same story we've been hearing since B.C.


    This thinking should of been imprinted in our DNA centuries ago...

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    Wow really guess u have a closed mind

    I hate to be the BEARur of bad news but you r so wrong on my survival expt. Google, read a survival book, whatever you need to do. but next time, in arctc don't eat liver except when rationed...or prove me DEAD wrong ( hope not) and eat polar bear liver/seal liver and whatever you want. Like i said i disagree with 95% of what that article is trying to say but as far as riskes dont eat that blowfish at all.
    Last edited by FRITZ BLITZ; 10-21-2013 at 02:11 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FRITZ BLITZ View Post
    I hate to be the BEARur of bad news but you r so wrong on my survival expt. Google, read a survival book, whatever you need to do. but next time, in arctc don't eat liver except when rationed...or prove me DEAD wrong ( hope not) and eat polar bear liver/seal liver and whatever you want. Like i said i disagree with 95% of what that article is trying to say but as far as riskes dont eat that blowfish at all.
    You're kind of dense, or just have a strange way of posting. I don''t think you understood anything I said really, unless you're talking to yourself because you haven't quoted anyone...

    No one is recommending that you eat bear liver. Open your eyes and read carefully before making silly comments.
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