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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 PubMedand 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.)
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?
Sufferers of celiac disease follow a gluten free diet, but many don’t add vitamin B12. People with autoimmune disease or gluten intolerance getB12 deficiency more often than not, according to health experts. Doctors advise sufferers of digestive diseases or pernicious anemia to supplement with B12.
Celiac disease facts:
“Alternative Names: Also classified as a disease of nutrient malabsorption, celiac disease is also known as celiac sprue, nontropical sprue and gluten-sensitive enteropathy.” –DiagnoseMe.com
Celiac disease (Gluten Enteropathy) is a digestive disease that causes severe damage to the small intestine’s lining.
Celiac disease is also an autoimmune disease. When any food containing gluten enters the body, the body proceeds to attack its own digestive system, harming the inner lining of the small intestine.
Gluten is a protein that occurs primarily in wheat, rye, and barley. All baked goods, snacks, or condiments that contain gluten are hazardous to patients with celiac disease.
Celiac disease patients have difficulty digesting vitamins and minerals from food sources, particularly vitamin B12, which can lead to severe vitamin B12 deficiency.
Some symptoms of celiac disease include diarrhea, stomach cramping, nausea, flatulence, blood in the stool, pernicious anemia caused by B12 deficiency, and stunted growth.
There is no confirmed cure for celiac disease. Physicians recommend lifestyle changes, such as following a gluten-free diet and supplementing with vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12 deficiency: What’s the connection?
“Since most B12 in our diets comes from animal products, vegans are at risk for B12 deficiency. Crohn’s and celiac disease, weight loss surgery, and chronic alcoholism can all interfere with a person’s ability to absorb enough of the nutrients they need. Seniors have more problems with nutrient absorption and malnutrition as well.” –WebMD
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble nutrient that occurs naturally in protein sources such as beef, chicken, fish, eggs, and milk products.
Your body needs vitamin B12 for the nervous system, building red blood cells, mental clarity, maintaining metabolism, and preventing dementia.
According to one study, celiac disease patients run a high risk of developing vitamin deficiencies. Out of over 400 celiac disease patients, 12% suffered folate deficiency and 5% were deficient in vitamin B12. Among men, 33% had iron deficiency, while 19% of women had low iron levels.
Scientists conclude that damage to the small intestine in celiac disease patients prevents them from properly absorbing nutrients, thus causing severe malnourishment.
Scientists also speculate that following a gluten-free diet might also contribute to vitamin deficiencies, adding that many gluten-free products lack sufficient B vitamins, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, fiber or vitamin D.
Vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms and treatment
Only a blood screening for low B12 can confirm if you have vitamin B12 deficiency.
Some symptoms of B12 deficiency include fatigue, depression, psychosis, memory loss, brain fog, tingling or numbness in the hands and/or feet, altered taste perception, and loss of balance.
In some cases, following a gluten-free diet is effective at maintaining vitamin B12 levels.
For people who exhibit celiac disease symptoms in addition to symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, doctors advise immediate supplementation of B12.
Vitamin B12 supplementation can include weekly B12 injections, and may follow up with sublingual vitamin B12 tablets.
For many, B12 shots cause bruising, and are extremely painful, as they require insertion into thick, muscular tissue. A popular option is to supplement with an alternative weekly over-the-counter (OTC) vitamin B12 supplement, which administers the same amount of vitamin B12 as the B12 injections, without the pain, and doesn’t require prescription.