What should older adults look for regarding research on health effects when looking for vitamins, for example vitamin B complex supplements or other nutritional products? You have several studies that report different uses and outcomes, for example, on vitamin B products and health effects.
For example, vitamin B, selenium, and beta-carotene in high doses have been called possible cancer risks in new study. See the May 15, 2012 news release, "Dietary supplements increase cancer risk." Yet studies also are on file with the opposite conclusions.
The key is does the dose unbalance the body's delicate chemical, genetic, and metabolic systems? Some health experts use vitamin B to lower the risk of stroke, whereas others are studying the effects of vitamin B on people with kidney problems or diabetes.
Each study may have a different conclusion. So how does the average consumer figure out how to tailor any vitamins or other nutritional supplements to individual health needs, especially when your doctor tells you to get your vitamins from your diet?
Supplements may inhabit a middle ground between drugs and whole foods
Supplements, especially at high doses, are more accurately described as inhabiting a mid-ground between food and drugs. Taking high doses of any particular nutrient is more likely to be a bad thing than a good thing. A new study released yesterday says certain supplements raise the risk of cancer if the dose is too high and unbalances the body's chemistry, according to a May 15, 2012 news release, "Dietary supplements increase cancer risk." Some supplements are plant extracts.
You may need to know how the extract was processed, with water extract, heat, alcohol, or other ways? And what phytonutrients, micronutrients, and dense food nutrients are in the supplement? Can your body even absorb the supplement, considering your digestive enzymes as they change with age? For example, kale has very good dense food nutrients when served raw, perhaps ground up in a food processor so you can chew it. But some kale chips were heated at high temperatures instead of being dehydrated. Which should you choose, the raw kale in a salad to get the dense nutrients, or the chips?
The question for researchers remains how much is too much and what dose is the perfect balance for individuals when vitamins are manufactured in a one-size fits all dose and directions psychology? In a new study, researchers focused on vitamins and minerals in the form of supplements taken by the public at much higher levels as some supplement manufacturers suggest.
Vitamin B research on folate and cognitive function in seniors
The latest study's results report that three supplements, folate, (also called vitamin B9), selenium, and beta-cartone, have now been proven to increase the risk of developing a host of cancers, the study reported. On the other hand, a local study reported that low folate levels in Sacramento's Latino community is associated with impaired cognitive functioning and dementia. See, Low folate status is associated with impaired cognitive function and dementia in the Sacramento Area Latino Study on Aging.
What about the opposite view, that folate lowers the risk of certain cancers in still another study--from the Harvard School of Public Health? Observational studies show that people who get higher than average amounts of folate from their diets or folic acid supplements for 15 years or more have lower risks of colon cancer (See this study) and breast cancer, (See that study), according to the Harvard School of Public Health's on the role in the body of the three vitamins: Folate, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin B12.
Check out the Harvard School of Public Health's site. See, Three of the B Vitamins: Folate, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin B12. Numerous studies on the B vitamins have been done locally in the Sacramento/Davis regional area.
For example, in Sacramento and Davis, the University of California, Davis Chair of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Ralph Green, M.D. is an expert in clinical pathology, with particular interest in diseases of the blood. He is internationally recognized for his research. Dr. Green specializes in examining how deprivation of B-complex vitamins, iron and other nutritional elements affects the cardiovascular system, nervous system, and the aging process. See, Brain function in the elderly: role of vitamin B12 and folate.
UC Davis in the Sacramento regional area studies the role of vitamin B in possibly lowering the risk of stroke
Vitamin therapy is still being used to help reduce risk of stroke. Locally in the Sacramento and Davis regional areas, U.C. Davis studies the role of vitamin B in possibly lowering the risk of stroke. See, Ralph Green - UC Davis Health System: Bio. Dr. Green is an expert in clinical pathology, with particular interest in diseases of the blood. He is internationally recognized for his research.
During his 35-year career, he has served as an adviser to numerous editorial boards and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control, American Heart Association and National Institutes of Health. In Sacramento studies were done at UC Davis on the role of B vitamins in helping to reduce the risk of the incidence of dementia and cognitive impairment. See the U.C. Davis study's abstract, Homocysteine, B vitamins, and the incidence of dementia and cognitive impairment: studies from the Sacramento Area Latino Study on Aging.
Dr. Green specializes in examining how deprivation of B-complex vitamins, iron and other nutritional elements affects the cardiovascular and nervous systems as well as the aging process. He has studied the role of nutrient deficiencies in dementia, coronary artery disease and stroke, as well as other chronic degenerative diseases, including cancer. He recently served on the expert panel appointed by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences to recommend levels of daily intake for B-vitamins and currently is serving as a consultant to the World Health Organization.
He recently served on the expert panel appointed by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences to recommend levels of daily intake for B-vitamins and currently is serving as a consultant to the World Health Organization. See, See, UC Davis Health System Department of Pathology: Our Team. Check out the study, Vitamin B12 deficiency is the dominant nutritional cause of hyperhomocysteinemia in a folic acid-fortified population.
How high or low the dose of vitamins and minerals to achieve balance in the body?
The University of Colorado Denver's latest study published in May 2012 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute on supplements and cancer risk noted that most scientists don't really know yet what the supplements are doing to the bodies of so many individuals taking over-the-counter vitamins and minerals in a variety of doses when it comes to finding out what each body requires for balance. A new study also became public on May 15, 2012 reporting that certain dietary supplements increase cancer risk.
Some studies examine the role of vitamin B in reducing the risk of stroke whereas other studies are reporting an increased cancer risk from high dose dietary supplements, particularly folate, one of the B vitamins, selenium, and beta-carotene. Scientists say there may be unintended effects of high doses of vitamins and minerals that could include increased cancer risk.
On one hand, the new study looked at increased cancer risk from certain vitamins and minerals. On the other hand, vitamin therapy is still being used to help reduce risk of stroke.
Dangers of too-high doses of folate, selenium, and beta-carotone studied in new research
We need these vitamins in balance. The problem is the way the vitamins are manufactured and sold in higher doses that may upset the body's balance. Some of the vitamins sold in this country, particularly some of the vitamin B types, are synthetic. Yet folate is often suggested by doctors for older adults. See the study or its abstract, Higher folate intake is related to lower risk of Alzheimer's disease in the elderly.
If you check out the May 15, 2012 news release, Dietary supplements increase cancer risk. That new study from the University of Colorado Denver noted the implications of the increased cancer risk from high dose dietary supplements, specifically naming folate, selenium, and beta-carotene in too-high doses likely to unbalance the body and raise the risk of certain cancers.
These three supplements taken up to three times their recommended daily allowance, are probably harmless. But taken at much higher levels as some supplement manufacturers suggest, these three supplements have now been proven to increase the risk of developing a host of cancers, the study reported. The study noted that people need these supplements in a certain balance, but didn't elaborate in the news release what type of test someone would take to find out what that balance happened to be.
"It's not that these nutrients are toxic – they're essential and we need them, but we need them in a certain balance," says Tim Byers, MD, MPH, professor of epidemiology at the Colorado School of Public Health and associate director for prevention and control at the University of Colorado Cancer Center, according to the news release.
Byers is senior author of a commentary recently published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute that discusses the clinical and policy implications of the increased cancer risk from high dose dietary supplements. "We have a window into less than half of the biology of what these nutrients are doing," Byers says in the news release. Dietary supplements increase cancer risk.
"We say generalized things about them, calling them an antioxidant or an essential mineral, but true biology turns out to be more complex than that. The effects of these supplements are certainly not limited to the label we give them. And, as we've seen, sometimes the unintended effects include increased cancer risk."
Vitamins are biologically active
Currently the FDA regulates dietary supplements as food, but, as Byers and colleagues suggest, supplements, especially at high doses, are more accurately described as inhabiting a mid-ground between food and drugs. Like drugs, supplement ingredients are biologically active – sometimes for better and sometimes for worse.
"We need to do a better job as a society in ensuring that the messages people get about value versus risk is accurate for nutritional supplements," Byers says in the news release. "My conclusion is that taking high doses of any particular nutrient is more likely to be a bad thing than a good thing."
If vitamin B increases the risk of cancer in high doses, then why do so many doctors suggest niacin for lowering LDL cholesterol? And another study reported this year how vitamin B supplements are used in stroke therapy. Is it only folic acid? What about folic acid in the bioactive form? And what about selenium? If selenium in high doses is said to increase the risk of certain cancers, then why is it suggested by some physicians for prostrate issues, but in small doses such as trace minerals?
The answer to these questions is that in small amounts, all these supplements are supposed to balance the body's chemistry and hormones. But scientists need to study just how higher doses contribute to raising the risk of cancer or other health issues caused by an imbalance in what the body needs for maximum health.
Also, in a 2011 the University of Western Ontario published a study on this topic. The Journal of the American Medical Association in 2011 published a commentary on how vitamin B therapy can still reduce the incidence of stroke. Check out the December 21, 2011 article, "JAMA commentary contends vitamin therapy can still reduce stroke," which is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) commentary from a University of Western Ontario study that contends vitamin therapy can still reduce stroke.
The commentary by Dr. David Spence of the University of Western Ontario and Dr. Meir Stampfer of the Harvard School of Public Health in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) argues that vitamin therapy still has a role to play in reducing stroke.
This commentary by Dr. David Spence of The University of Western Ontario and Dr. Meir Stampfer of the Harvard School of Public Health in today's Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) argues that vitamin therapy still has a role to play in reducing stroke. Vitamin B therapy works for those who need it.
Do you need a combination of vitamin B12 and other B vitamins in a B complex vitamin? And are your vitamins even absorbed by your body? It all depends on what your body needs for optimum health.
Vitamin B therapy may be good for some but not for others
Vitamin B therapy was once widely used to lower homocysteine levels a decade ago. Now, scientists found that too much of this amino acid in the bloodstream was linked to increased risk of stroke and heart attack. Several randomized trials found lowering homocysteine levels with B vitamins did not result in a cardiovascular benefit.
Also a study by Dr. Spence, a scientist with the Robarts Research Institute at Western's Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, found Vitamin B therapy actually increased cardiovascular risk in patients with diabetic nephropathy.
Dr. Spence says this commentary provides insights that overturn the widespread belief that "homocysteine is dead." He says, according to the December 21, 2011 news release, JAMA commentary contends vitamin therapy can still reduce stroke, that two key issues have been overlooked in the interpretation of the clinical trials: the key role of vitamin B12, and the newly recognized role of renal failure.
"It is now clear that the large trials showing no benefit of vitamin therapy obscured the benefit of vitamin therapy because they lumped together patients with renal failure and those with good renal function.
The vitamins are harmful in renal failure, and beneficial in patients with good renal function, and they cancel each other out," says Dr. Spence (in the press release). Dr. Spence is the author of the book, How to Prevent Your Stroke. The authors also contend most of the trials did not use a high enough dose of vitamin B12. See, How to Prevent Your Stroke (9780826515377): J. David Spence.
Danger of Vitamin B1 Deficiency in Non-Dairy Infant Formula
Back in November of 2003 in Etah Tikva, Israel, problems were found regarding a soy-based infant formula. The label on the formula read that it contained adequate supplies of vitamin B1, but what was on the label wasn't found in the nondairy formula.
Infants were examined for Vitamin B1 deficiency after being fed with Remedia, a soya-based infant formula, at Schneider Childrens' Hospital on November 11, 2003 in Petah Tikva, Israel. The reason was that according to the Israeli Health Ministry, three babies had died and 17 others fallen seriously ill from neurological and cardiological complications back in 2003 after being fed the non-dairy baby formula that lacked essential Vitamin B1 despite packaging claims.
That's why when taking any type of vitamins, you need to be sure what's on the label is what's in the contents. The formula was produced by the German manufacturer Humana for the Israeli Remedia company which is partly owned by the Heinz international food company. So the point of this news is to find other sources than a label to see whether the product has been tested and what's in the bottle or can is the same as what's on the label, especially when it comes to vitamins in infant formulas or your own vitamin supplements.
Do the excipients in some supplements influence your health in any way if you use the products daily for many decades?
You may be eating all those excipients in your vitamins and other nutritional supplements. Excipients are binders, fillers, flowing agents, and various types of 'glues' that hold your vitamin pill or other nutritional supplement together or in the case of capsules, act as a filler or flowing agent to keep the capsule contents from caking or hardening.
For example, propylparaben can irritate your gastrointestinal tract and even cause CNS depression, and magnesium stearate, a flowing agent that costs very little, may compromise your immune system. But how many consumers know how to validate this research or even find the studies in scientific journals or reports?
If a given advertisement tells you the substances are questionable, you'd want to ask why and at least be told where to verify that an ingredient has been processed with another ingredient that's listed as a carcinogen such as formaldehyde, for example, or a food product processed with hexanes, which can cause vertigo in some people. The point is where do you go to read the actual studies?
These fillers are non-nutritive binders or flowing agents used to fill up a capsule or pill. Some of these fillers are questionable as to what they do to your body. For example, magnesium stearate found in most vitamins is just a flowing agent that according to studies may be affecting your immune system. See the studies, A Dangerous Ingredient in Your Supplements, Life Extension Position Paper, Magnesium Stearate - Medicalinsider and What Is Magnesium Stearate - Expert Health Advice & Information. Also see, Magnesium Stearate Side Effects.
Magnesium stearate is formed by adding a magnesium ion to stearic acid. The compound has lubricating properties, which is why it's often used in the making of supplements, as it allows the machinery to run faster and smoother, and prevents the pills or capsules from sticking to each other. See the article, "Does your supplement contain this potentially hazardous ingredient?" Dr. Mercola's article reports, "Stearic acid has been linked to suppression of T cells. The filler also stimulates your gut to form a biofilm, which can prevent proper absorption of nutrients in your digestive tract."
The advice in Dr. Mercola's article also notes how to identify high quality multi-vitamin supplements. See the site, Food Additives ~ CSPI's Food Safety. For other information, also see, The Report on Carcinogens from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. Although Magnesium Stearate isn't causing any cancer, in some cases it may contain formaldehyde which recently has been listed as a carcinogen by the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. The point is not so much what a filler does, but what else it contains.
For example, if a particular filler can stimulate your intestines to prevent proper absorption of nutrients in some cases, you want to find out whether it does or doesn't have that ability on your body, since people have different genes influencing immunity. People are concerned whether their vitamins are synthetic or natural. If their B vitamins, for example, are synthetic, the question is whether the synthetic B vitamins are derived from coal tar. You want natural sources for your vitamin B supplements, for example, made from proprietary probiotic fermentation.
Your form of vitamins, for example, vitamin B complex products, should be ready for use by each of your cells, if you even take vitamins or other supplements in the first place. The question for many is whether to buy live-source vitamin B complex usually advertised in journals that go to doctors interested in alternative and functional medicine.
Many people still buy vitamins in supermarkets in the inner aisles among the food or first-aid products. Instead check out the vitamins and supplements in the natural food aisles of supermarkets or in health food stores or see the reviews about online research labs that are known and supported by medical doctors who are knowledgeable about what's in supplements and how are the supplements made.
Also see another Sacramento Bee news article about health, "Doctors took money, wrote treatment guidelines"-- December 26, 2012. According to that article, doctors with financial ties to drug companies have heavily influenced treatment guidelines that recommend the most lucrative drugs in American medicine, an analysis by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and MedPage Today has found. Check out the news stories.
Excipients: What are they?
As for excipients, at least you should be aware of them and which types of supplements have them listed on the labels. You may want to know what else is in a particular type of excipient in your supplements that also contains a carcinogen such as formaldehyde or other ingredient on the list of known carcinogens, since many people take daily supplements such as vitamins for many decades.
For example, a vitamin may contain harmless fillers, but the question is what else is in the fillers or with what were they processed which might vary from hexanes to formaldehyde or other substances. You don't want hexanes giving you vertigo symptoms, for example.
Check out the May 23, 2009 article, "Soy Protein Used in "Natural" Foods Bathed in Toxic Solvent Hexane," by Mike Adams. The article reports, "Much of the "natural" soy protein used in foods today is bathed in a toxic, explosive chemical solvent known as hexane. Also see the article, "Are the hexanes in your supplements giving you vertigo?"
Here's a list of some excipients you may find in your supplements such as vitamins and other nutritional extracts, powders, crystals, capsules, and pills
Dicalcium phosphate Polysorbate 80
Titanium dioxide Pharmaceutical glaze Microcrystalline cellulose
Polyethylene glycol 3350
FD and C red #33
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Homocysteine, B vitamins, and the incidence of dementia and cognitive impairment: Results from the Sacramento Area Latino Study on Aging. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 85(2):511-517, 2007.
Luchsinger JA, Tang MX, Miller J, Green R, Mayeux R. Higher folate intake is related to lower risk of Alzheimer's disease in the elderly. Arch Neurol, 64(1):86-92, 2007.
Luchsinger JA, Tang MX, Miller J, Green R, Mehta PD, Mayeux R. Relation of plasma homocysteine to plasma amyloid beta levels. Neurochem Res, 32:775-781, 2007.
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Carkeet C, Dueker SR, Lango J, Buchholz BA, Miller JW, Green R, Hammock B, Roth JR, Anderson PJ. Specific 14C-labeling of cobalamin and accelerator mass spectrometry underlie a quantitative test for B12 absorption in humans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 103(15):5694-5699, 2006.
Campbell AK, Jagust WJ, Mungas DM, Miller JW, Green R, Haan MN, Allen LH. Low erythrocyte folate, but not plasma vitamin B-12 or homocysteine is associated with dementia in elderly Latinos. J Nutr Health Aging, 9:39-43, 2005.
Green R, Miller JW. Vitamin B12 deficiency is the dominant nutritional cause of hyperhomocystine anemia in a folic acid-fortified population. Clin Chem Lab Med, 43:1048-51, 2005.
Ramos MI, Allen LH, Mungas DM, Jagust WJ, Haan MN, Green R, Miller JW. Low folate status is associated with impaired cognitive function and dementia in the Sacramento Area Latino Study on Aging. Amer J Clin Nutr, 82:1346-52, 2005.