Hope this hasn't already been posted - I couldn't see it - but sorry if it's a repeat!!
Very interesting review from the Cochrane Group - one of the most respected sources of medical/health research reviews - about the effects of antioxidant supplementation.
Strangely enough, the Health Supplements Information Service (representing companies that sell supplements), say that many people are "simply not able to get everything they needed from their diet." Hmmmm, perhaps if so much of many people's diets weren't filled up with meat/dairy/eggs, there'd be more room in their stomachs for the plant foods that provide the range of macro- and micronutrients that we need, in the right packages and in the right amounts!!! Just a thought.
Before I get rocks thrown at me, yes, B12 supplements for long-term vegans are a good idea.Link to BBC storyVitamins 'may shorten your life'
Research has suggested vitamin supplements do not extend life and could even lead to a premature death.
A review of 67 studies found "no convincing evidence" that antioxidant supplements cut the risk of dying.
Scientists at Copenhagen University said vitamins A and E could interfere with the body's natural defences.
"Even more, beta-carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E seem to increase mortality," according to the review by the respected Cochrane Collaboration.
The research involved selecting various studies from 817 on beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium which the team felt were the most likely to fairly reflect the benefits of the supplements.
It has been thought that these supplements may be able to prevent damage to the body's tissues called "oxidative stress" by eliminating the molecules called "free radicals" which are said to cause it.
This damage has been implicated in several major diseases including cancer and heart disease.'Just eat well'
The trials involved 233,000 people who were either sick or were healthy and taking supplements for disease prevention.
After various factors were taken into account and a further 20 studies excluded, the researchers linked vitamin A supplements to a 16% increased risk of dying, beta-carotene to a 7% increased risk and vitamin E to a 4% increased risk.
Vitamin C did not appear to have any effect one way or the other, and the team said more work was needed into this supplement - as well as into selenium.
In conclusion, "we found no evidence to support antioxidant supplements for primary or secondary prevention," they said.
It was unclear exactly why the supplements could have this effect, but the team speculated that they could interfere with how the body works: beta-carotene, for instance, is thought to change the way a body uses fats.
The Department of Health said people should try to get the vitamins they need from their diet, and avoid taking large doses of supplements - a market which is worth over £330m in the UK.
"There is a need to exercise caution in the use of high doses of purified supplements of vitamins, including antioxidant vitamins, and minerals," a spokesperson said.
"Their impact on long-term health may not have been fully established and they cannot be assumed to be without risk."