Do Vitamins Work?

by Diane Lofshult on Mar 04, 2009

Food for Thought

Have you ever been asked by a client if vitamins work? Two new studies have raised doubts among nutrition experts as to whether vitamins can protect against cardiovascular disease (CVD) or reduce the risk of certain cancers. Both studies involved large demographic groups that were closely monitored during long-term, randomized clinical trials.

The first study, which involved more than 5,400 women enrolled in the Women’s Antioxidant and Folic Acid Cardiovascular Study, examined whether taking a combined supplement of folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 had any effect on cancer risk in females who were at high risk of either total invasive cancer or breast cancer. The women, who were 42 or older and had preexisting CVD or three or more coronary risk factors, were randomly assigned to receive the vitamin combination or a placebo. Those who took the combined supplements were given daily doses of 2.5 milligrams (mg) of folic acid, 50 mg of vitamin B6 and 1 mg of vitamin B12.

At the end of the 7-year study period, the results were disappointing in terms of reducing cancer risk. Writing in the November 5, 2008, issue of the The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) (300 [17], 2012–21), the authors drew the following conclusion: “Combined folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 treatment had no significant effect on overall risk of total invasive cancer or breast cancer.”

In the second study, researchers observed 14,641 male health professionals (age 50 and older) who were involved in the Physicians’ Health Study. The goal of the study was to evaluate whether long-term intake of vitamin E and vitamin C supplements would decrease the risk of major CVD events among men. During this randomized, double-blind study, the men were given either a placebo, individual supplements of 400 international units of vitamin E every other day or daily doses of 500 mg of vitamin C.

Once again, the findings were dismal: “In this large, long-term trial of male physicians, neither the vitamin E, nor vitamin C supplementation, reduced the risk of major cardiovascular events,” the authors concluded in the November 12, 2008, issue of JAMA (300 [18], 2123–33). “These data provide no support for the use of these supplements for the prevention of CVD in middle-aged and older men.”

The bottom line: men and women should focus less on vitamin supplementation and more on eating a balanced diet of whole foods to obtain the nutrients needed to remain healthy.

IDEA Fitness Journal, Volume 6, Issue 3

© 2009 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

Diane Lofshult IDEA Author/Presenter

Diane Lofshult is an award-winning freelance author who specializes in nutrition and weight management topics. She is the founder of In Other Words, an editorial consulting firm based in Solana Beach,...

0 Comments

Trending Articles

How to Teach HIIT to Everyone

High-intensity interval training has been riding a wave of popularity, and it seems everyone wants to give it a try. However, intense interval training is nothing new. Group fitness instructors have b...

Smooth Move: Creative Additions to Consider for Smoothies

When looking for a quick breakfast or post-workout nourishment, almost nothing beats a smoothie. Whirl in the right ingredients and the blen...

Mindful Walking

Walking can be more than just moving physically from one location to another. It can be a metaphor for your larger life journey. Things you&...

Nuts and Peanuts Reduce Cardiovascular Risk and Prolong Lifespan

While there have been numerous studies in recent years touting the health benefits of nuts and peanuts, new research published online March ...

20 IDEA World-Renowned Presenters Share Advice on Success and Happiness

We asked some of this year’s most influential and motivating IDEA World Fitness Convention™ presenters to share the single piece of advice they would give another fitness/health pro to hel...

Cut Risk of Alzheimer’s with MIND Diet

Conservative adherence to a new diet, appropriately known by the acronym MIND, could significantly lower a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, according to a paper published o...

Yes, You CAN Develop Better Eating Habits

Analogous to laying out your exercise gear so it’s the first visual reminder you have of your commitment to exercise each day, imagine...

7 Ways to Help a Client Boost Adherence

Once a client has decided to make nutritional changes to support weight loss, you can play a key role in developing an action plan that is m...

Recipe for Health: Picadillo-Stuffed Peppers

If you don’t believe that authentic Mexican cookery is “whole” and healthy, you need to take a deep dive into Mexico: The Cookbook (Phaidon 2014), the first truly comprehensive bible...

Low Intensity vs. High Intensity: Which Is Best for Obese Adults?

The debate continues regarding the most effective exercise measures for reducing abdominal obesity and improving glucose measures.

Show More