News Keeps Getting Worse for Vitamins
by Tara Parker Pope
The New York Times
The best efforts of the scientific community to prove the health benefits of vitamins keep falling short.
Consumers don’t want to give up their vitamins. (Tony Cenicola/The New York Times)This week, researchers reported the disappointing results from a large clinical trial of almost 15,000 male doctors taking vitamins E and C for a decade. The study showed no meaningful effect on cancer rates.
Another recent study found no benefit of vitamins E and C for heart disease.
In October, a major trial studying whether vitamin E and selenium could lower a man’s risk for prostate cancer ended amidst worries that the treatments may do more harm than good.
And recently, doctors at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York warned that vitamin C seems to protect not just healthy cells but cancer cells, too.
Everyone needs vitamins, which are critical for the body. But for most people, the micronutrients we get from foods usually are adequate to prevent vitamin deficiency, which is rare in the United States. That said, some extra vitamins have proven benefits, such as vitamin B12 supplements for the elderly and folic acid for women of child-bearing age. And calcium and vitamin D in women over 65 appear to protect bone health.
But many people gobble down megadoses of vitamins believing that they boost the body’s ability to mop up damaging free radicals that lead to cancer and heart disease. In addition to the more recent research, several reports in recent years have challenged the notion that vitamins are good for you.
To Read the Rest of the Report and To Access Many Studies on Vitamins