Since the year 2010, the demand for vitamins like vitamin C and E, and other supplements such as omega-3 fish oils have been in decline. That is probably due to health-conscious people realizing that simply eating a balanced diet makes expensive supplementation quite unnecessary.
Save money and be healthier…
Now, scientific studies have also begun to show that in some cases, health supplements cause further health problems.
However, by mid-2016, vitamin and supplement sales in the UK were one the increase again. Suggestions for the reasons behind the rising range from ‘eating too much fast-food’ to a ‘desire for feeling and looking younger’.
The rise in supplement uptake might even be a response to reports from the Universities of Oxford and Surrey in the UK about today’s nutrient-deficient diets… but that is another eye-opening subject, and a rabbit hole the unwary need to be careful of entering.
The value of supplements obtained some rather bad publicity in 2011, when a study of nearly 39,000 women over the age of 60 concluded that those who took multivitamins and vitamin B6 (the latter for unproven heart benefits) were at risk of dying earlier.
In a 2015 study by the American Association for Cancer Research, it was discovered that men who supplemented with the antioxidant vitamin E, had almost a one-in-five greater risk of getting cancer over a 12 year period.
Another study found that women who took high doses of folic acid supplements increased the risk of getting breast cancer by a fifth.
This is all quite scary. Could it be that supplementing with vitamins actually feeds cancer cells? This sounds quite plausible.
As mentioned before, vitamin E is an antioxidant. It mops up free radicals in the body. These electrically charged molecules are linked to ageing, to cell damage, and to cancers.
But what if reducing the levels of free radicals actually does more harm than good?
This is a good question to ask. A report published in The International Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology suggests that the body needs to experience stress in order to fight infections. The thinking behind this is that the stress caused by free radicals stimulates an immune response. In other words, our bodies become stronger and more resistant when attacked.
Some people claim that taking vitamin supplements acts like some kind of pick-me-up tonic. However, studies show that taking vitamin C and vitamin E supplements as an energy boost can actually upset the way that muscles respond to physical activity.
It makes you wonder, doesn’t it?
Continued in Part 2…