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Antioxidant Vitamin Supplements

Paying to live a shorter life.

August 21, 2008 |
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Transcript

Scientists suspect the healthfulness of nuts is in part because of their vitamin E content. So why not just forget the nuts and take the vitamin E directly? Who thinks scientists discovered that’s a bad idea??? Who thinks, well it probably won’t hurt, but probably won’t help either??? And finally, who thinks vitamin E supplements are a good idea??? According to this landmark review in the Journal of the AMA, vitamin E supplements increase all-cause mortality, meaning if you take vitamin E supplements you live, on average, a shorter life. You’re in effect paying to live a

Same study, but this time vitamin A. Who says vitamin A supplements also decrease your lifespan??? How many say: doesn’t really affect it one way or another??? How many say it makes you live longer??? Vitamin A supplements, decrease your lifespan. Ever since arctic explorers started dying from vitamin A overdoses after eating polar bear liver (serves ‘em right), the safe upper limit of intake has continued to drop, and indeed those taking vitamin A supplements also live shorter lives.

What about the plant-based form of vitamin A, beta carotene? Who says shorter life??? Who says neither shorter nor longer??? Who says longer life??? Nope, shorter. With two notable exceptions we should try to get nutrients from produce, not pills.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Dianne Moore.

To help out on the site please email volunteer@nutritionfacts.org

Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

Check out my associated blog post, Eating To Extend Our Lifespan.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/stussy/ Stussy

    Do you think these results could be due to the test subjects taking the supplements by themselves instead of “supplementing” a healthy diet with pills they can’t find in foods. I take Shaklee vitamins every day but i don’t rely on them as a replacement for healthy nutrition.

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/mgreger/ Michael Greger M.D.

      These were studies on essentially the general population, which means they had by no means a healthy diet (in fact I’m going to be posting my new video-of-the-day in about an hour that addresses just how unhealthy). Having said that I would not expect that to make much of a difference in terms of the potential toxicity of supplements. I’m afraid many millions of Americans have been bamboozled by the multi-billion dollar supplement industry. I’ll be posting more videos on this–stay tuned!

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/stussy/ Stussy

    I can’t wait! I will also have to show my mom. She is a Shaklee distributor.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/kmatthews1262/ kmatthews1262

    Are you aware of Shaklee’s long-term clinical study involving those people who took Shaklee supplements compared to those who took no supplements at all, and those who took another brand of supplements other than Shaklee. Shaklee is definitely different. Of course I am a distributer, but everyone I have had on Shaklee products for 6 mos. to 1 year has made significant improvement on all their lipid profiles. How do you explain that.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/toxins/ Toxins

    Hello Kmatthews, one must look at the long term effects and side effects of any drugs or supplements before claiming a product completely helpful due to a simple lowering of lipid profiles. Statin, for example, will in the long run tear your muscles over time.
    http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/statin-muscle-toxicity/\

    Spirulina as well, was shown to lower blood pressure but it’s harms far outweigh any benifits.
    http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/blue-green-algae-spirulina/
    http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/update-on-spirulina/
    http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/update-on-spirulina-2/

    You can see how I am skeptical of any sort of unnatural supplement outside of what our body truly needs, such as vitamin b12 and vitamin d.
    http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/vitamin-supplements-worth-taking/

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/kmatthews1262/ kmatthews1262

      The operative word you used here is “unnatural”. Do you mean as in syntheticcally produced supplements? What do you think about supplements that are naturally occuring – derived from a whole food source completely(not 10% naturally occuring by which the supplement industry is then allowed to label their product “NATURAL”)? The vitamin E that you referred to in your presentation as being harmful in that it was shown to perhaps shorting ones life, was it the synthetically produced Vitamin E or the natually occuring kind whose source is derived completely from a whole food? I’m in total agreement with you that one must look at the long term effects and side effects of any drugs or supplements. And I can assure you Shaklee does just that.

      • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/toxins/ Toxins

        I have not researched shaklee, but my general rule of thumb is to avoid supplementation unless its for b12 or vitamin d. We don’t need supplements (other than what i just mentioned) if we eat a well rounded diet. To take one vitamin, mineral, or antioxidant out of a food and put a lot of it in your body does not seem necessary an in most cases it is destructive, such as taking beta carotene supplements.

  • Mgeroux

    Hello Dr. Greger! I’ve been wondering, is it possible to consume too many antioxidants from foods such as tea? Thank you!

  • Mauricio Torres

    I wanted to ask if it’s safe for me to take a multivitamin tablet supplement (Adult Multi) regularly, I’ve been vegan for almost a year now, the only thing that worries me is the B12, would you rather recommend taking just a B12 supplement? Thank you!

    • http://www.DonForresterMD.com/ Don Forrester MD

      As a general recommendation I would only recommend Vit B12 supplements. See the series of video’s by Dr. Greger in February 2012 to discuss the specifics… I prefer the once a week approach but as he points out there are other ways. The use of isolated supplements given the complexities of our metabolism doesn’t make sense if you are consuming the correct diet. To find out more you might find Dr. Campbell’s newest book, Whole, of interest.

  • N_

    Is the conversion rate from beta-carotene to vitamin a really enough?

    I’m wondering the same about vitamin k1 to k2.

    What about taurine supplement?

  • tavit

    now I am glad that my mom never gave me any supplements at all and I doesn’t took much of it.

  • Jennifer

    What about vitamin A face creams? Does your body absorb enough that it could be the same as taking vitamin A supplements? I use a retinol cream every night and this video has made me worry about possible long term effects.

  • Tiffany

    Has anyone else noticed that most plant milks have Vitamin A Palmitate added? My favorite soy milk and flax milk both contain Vitamin A Palmitate. Does anyone know if consuming plant milks with Vit. A is harmful? I’ve searched for information on this but haven’t found anything yet. I’ve also been on the lookout for good plant milks without Vit. A, but it seems that most have different vitamins added.

  • Kathie

    I bought an Amla Vitamin C supplement. It is Vegan and Organic. I couldn’t find organic Amla, so that’s why I bought the supplement. Is it OK to have one caplet daily?

    • Thea

      Kathie: I don’t have an answer to your supplement question. However, if you are interested in the future in getting organic amla, here is the site where I got mine:

      http://www.mountainroseherbs.com/bulkherb/a.php#h_a_amla_d

      I got the powder. They also sell “whole”.

      Hope that helps.

  • Laina

    Dr. Fuhrman has his multivitamins specially formulated to leave out those vitamins that are harmful. I know of no other multi that leaves out those harmful ingredients.

    In this video you only mentioned vitamin A, Beta Carotene and vitamin E. All of those are excluded from Dr. Fuhrman’s multivitamin plus folic acid, copper and iron which are potentially harmful are left out as well.

    He does include vitamin D and the B-12.

  • Jessy Richards

    Dr. Greger, I’m curious what you think of Protandim. My mother-in-law is really into it. The company has studies claiming it reduces a persons “T-bars” to that of a newborn baby. I’m mostly wondering if there is any harm in her taking it?