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Posts Tagged ‘Health News’

Women’s Health News- Dietary Supplements cause Early Death…Huh?

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011



In recent health news, a medical journals report claims that overuse of dietary supplements and multivitamins can cause premature death in women.  PubMed and the Archives of Internal Medicine have published the women’s health study, which critics argue is seriously flawed.


Multivitamins that kill?

Last year, newsrooms were abuzz about the increasing usage of vitamin supplements among Americans.  Now, apparently, an Iowa Women’s Health Study claims that in some incidences, overusing vitamins and dietary supplements- multivitamins, vitamin B6, folic acid, magnesium, zinc, and copper- can actually kill you, especially if you happen to be an elderly female.

Health experts are up in arm over this latest study, and for good reason- on closer inspection, the scientific study, published by PubMed and the Archives of Internal Medicine, has some disturbing holes…

Bad science just doesn’t add up

One of the first things that you learn in science lab is, “Correlation doesn’t prove causation.”  Put simply, just because two things happen at the same time, doesn’t mean that one causes the other.  For example, there’s a high correlation between B12 deficiency and fibromyalgia, but that doesn’t mean that vitamin B12 deficiency causes fibromyalgia, just that the two share a statistical relationship. (In fact, it’s more likely that fibromyalgia causes vitamin B12 deficiency, but for scientific purposes, we cannot assume a causal relationship.)

(Fibromyalgia FAQs- 6 Need-to-Know Fibro Facts)

The fact that a high correlation of vitamin-taking test participants had a high mortality rate does not prove that the vitamins killed them.  Many of the women studies took toxic amounts of iron supplements- a known cause of cardiovascular disease.  In addition, no care was taken to insure randomness, so it is quite possible that there was underlying chronic illness that the Iowa scientists failed to uncover.

Are researchers actually suggesting that women stop taking prenatal vitamins with folic acid, which countless studies prove greatly reduces the risk of birth defects?

Vitamin deficiency is for real

Vitamin B12 deficiency:

  • chronic fatigue,
  • depression,
  • increased risk for heart attack,
  • pernicious anemia,
  • neurological damage and
  • early-onset dementia?

Magnesium deficiency:

  • muscular aches,
  • nausea,
  • seizures,
  • migraines,
  • irregular heartbeat,
  • hypocalcemia (diminished calcium),
  • hypokalemia (low potassium), and
  • insomnia

Zinc deficiency (severe):

  • mental retardation,
  • growth retardation,
  • chronic fatigue,
  • iron deficiency anemia,
  • muscular degeneration

Related reading:

B Vitamins prevent Cardiovascular Disease- B6, B12 and Folate

Cruising for a Bruising? Choose Vitamin B12 Shots or Anemia

How to keep Vitamin B12 Deficiency from Shrinking your Brain


Dietary Supplements and Mortality Rate in Older Women: The Iowa Women’s Health Study- PubMed- NCBI

Don’t rag on vitamins just yet. That study has major limitations

Why You Should Not Stop Taking Your Vitamins

Dietary Supplements and Mortality Rate in Older Women- Archives of Internal Medicine

Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Magnesium

Zinc Deficiency- Doctor- Patient UK


Piyachok Thawornmat

How to keep Vitamin B12 Deficiency from Shrinking your Brain

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011



Brain health and vitamin B12 deficiency: Vitamin B12 is essential for maintaining cognitive health and addressing mild memory problems related to aging. Vitamin B12 deficiency is a common health problem for senior citizens who suffer the beginning stages of dementia.



Brain atrophy is what happens when brain tissue disintegrates.  In the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of age-related dementia, a reduction in the brain’s gray matter correlates to symptoms such as memory loss, disorientation, paranoia, and uncharacteristically aggressive behavior.  In addition to losing brain volume, some elderly individuals also lose bone mass.


B12- the Brain Vitamin

In a recent study, elderly test participants who had vitamin B12 deficiency scored poorly on cognitive skills and memory testing, compared to their peers.  In addition, MRI scans indicated that senior citizens with low B12 levels also had less brain mass than peers who had normal levels of vitamin B12.

Cognitive Decline

This is not the first time that researchers found a correlation between vitamin B12 deficiency and cognitive health.  In 2008, Oxford University scientists discovered a link between elevated levels of homocysteine (an indicator of low vitamin B12 levels) and brain shrinkage.  Homocysteine is an amino acid that increases your chances of developing heart disease and stroke.


As you get older, your body slows down, and stops producing  as many stomach acids.  Unfortunately, your body still needs stomach acids in order to digest essential vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin B12.  People who lack sufficient stomach acids- the elderly, people on strong heartburn medications- lack the ability to digest vitamin B12 naturally, and must receive vitamin B12 supplements in order to prevent vitamin deficiency.


Elderly Care

In order to detect vitamin B12 deficiency, doctors recommend that elderly individuals receive regular blood testing for homocysteine levels and active vitamin B12, particularly if they exhibit any symptoms of cognitive decline, such as short-term memory loss.  If diagnosed with vitamin B12 deficiency, then your doctor will prescribe vitamin B12 injections or sublingual vitamin B12.

For extra vitamin B12, or as an alternative to painful injections, a popular option is to supplement with over-the-counter (OTC) vitamin B12.

Related reading:

12 Ways to Avoid Alzheimer’s Disease

Ten Bites to Better Brain Power

Can Aerobics Cure Alzheimer’s Disease?

Feed your Brain Something You’ll never Forget


Low Vitamin B12 Level in Elderly May Spur Dementia

B12 shortage linked to cognitive problems

Low Vitamin B12 May Speed Brain Shrinkage

Brain and Body Shrink Before Alzheimer’s Sets In


C Jill Reed, Vince Alongi, sabertasche2

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