Vitamin Deficiency?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tara Parker-Pope, New York Times columnist for the Well column and blog, reviews studies questioning the effectiveness of "mega-doses" of vitamins in promoting health.


Tara Parker-Pope

Comments [29]

csh from NJ

If you follow vitamin studies you know that there is a pattern of underpowering studies or introducing some bias that undermines actually getting at the effect the vitamin is having.

Vitamin D studies are finally beginning to test amounts that make a difference, but that's, in part, because there has been a groundswell of interest in the public.

Check out the doctor yourself website and look into data on orthomolecular medicine. Abraham Hoffer, MD PhD, who died last year, had a lot of success treating patients with niacin for schizophrenia, for example.

A more nuanced dialogue about this issue needs to take place. It's in the public's interest.

Jan. 08 2010 11:57 PM
Julie from Bronx

In the Times article which was published on the same day she was a guest on Mr. Lopate’s show, Ms. Tara Parker-Pope made an inappropriate implication that drug research is somehow more effective because a “gold standard” of clinical trials that it must pass.
She legitimately points problems with isolating the effects of vitamins in research. Yet something similar can happen with drugs (an interaction of the drug with vitamins). There are also proven biases with Pharmaceutical research (e.g. Lexchin et al., 2003, British Medical Journal) that may or not be present in the vitamin industry. Perhaps these are part of the reasons why the pharmaceutical industry is plagued with studies showing drugs to be ineffective and fatally harmful (i.e. a recent study a cholesterol lowering drug to have no effect. This drug is prescribed to about 1 million people a week- as it already passed the "gold standard" of research Myriad other examples of problem drugs: Vioxx, Accutane, Prozac, Ritalin, etc.) Indeed, a thorough examination of the efficacy of drugs should cover the possible interaction of drugs already in our bodies due to pharmaceuticals waste into our drinking water. (This phenomenon has also occurred in Europe

Feb. 18 2009 01:49 PM
Robert from New York

There are many different conflicting studies regarding the benefits of supplements -- some support them, some do not. Often the ones that don't are "meta studies" that are not wholly reliable in determining efficacy of the supplements.

I found this piece, in general, to be quite poor. When your guest was presented with supplements that DO work -- e.g. niacin -- she classified this in a different "category" (I believe she said: well, that's different, because you take that in consultation with your doctor). It seemed pretty evident that she was tailoring how she classified things in order to fit her biases. For instance, again, she classified an admittedly efficacious herb as "different" -- well, herbs are supplements too.

I am very disappointed in WNYC in running this piece -- NOT that the content was disappointing as such (although any worthwhile journalist -- Brian? -- might have pointed out the relatively easy-to-detect biases as noted above). Rather, this woman's OPINION was taken as gospel, with no cogent different opinion. And the host was of the same mind as the guest -- no probing questions (as Brian might have asked). Just a bad piece overall, and really disappointing. It's that kind of stuff makes me not want to contribute. (Yes, I do take supplements, regularly, but have done my research, and am aware that one must take it all 'with a grain of salt' -- that there are two sides to it all).

Feb. 17 2009 10:19 PM
Milton from Queens

Gary Null is a HIV denier quack, he should be responsible for every death cause by people not taking their RV drugs upon his recommendation.
Wanna talk about "big pharma" trying to make profits? Look at this guy selling his overpriced goods. I'm surprised he's not trying to sell one of those Scientology E-Meter's on his site.

Feb. 17 2009 12:03 PM
Milton from Queens

I also need to take more Vit D. The (recommended) upper limit for 2000IU of vitamin D per day. Most multivitamins contain 400IU of Vit D per dose. There are two main types, D2 synthesized from plans, and D3 which your body makes from sunlight (UVB rays). You can also get it from eggs, fortified milk, cod liver oil.
You can take a blood test to determine the levels in your blood and talk to your doctor about dosing. My Doc tells me to take 4000IU for 2 months, then 2000IU and get another blood test.
Also try to get some sunlight, about 15 min/day without sunscreen (depending on how easily you burn). Americans are generally okay, I mean when have you heard of a case of rickets?

Feb. 17 2009 11:58 AM
PL Hayes from Aberystwyth

Consumer 'scepticism': don't believe anything the impartial 'reductionist' scientists tell you but do believe just about any simplistic and reductionist claim made by people trying to sell you stuff.


Feb. 17 2009 11:52 AM
gary l. from brooklyn

Milton from queens...
take a lot of vitamins and listen to dr. weil!

Feb. 17 2009 11:50 AM
gary l. from brooklyn

There are countless university studies with conclusive results that vitamins are essential for health as a preventative and as a cure.
just google for them or check out which will direct you to the studies, articles and links. sadly, this guest has too much of a slanted, anti-vitamin view.
vitamins have helped and saved countless folks from disease and prescription drugs.
i wonder why she is so anti-vitamin???

Feb. 17 2009 11:47 AM
bee from brooklyn

I found most helpful the discussion following Tara's post in her blog at NYT.

the article, kind of vague and doomy. like the NEWS.

Not very clear on the differences among vitamin suppliers (cheap up to pharma grade)
and not very defining or clear on what is a MEGADOSE and what is not.

Feb. 17 2009 11:46 AM
Michael from Gillette, nj

In one of these "scientific studies" reported on this station several several weeks ago, the daily dosage of Vitamin C given was 200mg. (Thats correct, two hundred milligrams - for those of us who are laughing out loud). Even this dosage showed some effect in shortening the duration of colds and other respiratory infections. (According to the report). People who I know who swear by Vitamin C take anywhere from 2000 to 8000 mg per day. Any "scientific studies" on this?

Feb. 17 2009 11:46 AM
Brianne from Harlem

Vitamin C pills as well as Orange Juice or other citrus fruits actually CAUSE me to get a cold sore... hmmm.

Feb. 17 2009 11:45 AM
Milton from Queens

I'm glad there are some ration people talking about supplements for a change.
We need to talk about real studies, instead of quacks like Gary Null and Andrew Weil talking about anecdotal evidence, which is mostly just confirmation bias.
Mega dosing vitamins can do more harm than good. Like too much Vitamin A will cause your flesh to melt away from the bone.

Natural & Homeopathic = unregulated. I mean arsenic is natural, should we take arsenic supplements?

Feb. 17 2009 11:43 AM
SuzanneNYC from Upper West Side

So much of the food we eat travels long distances and is picked before being fully ripe. By the time we purchase much fresh produce it's vitamin content is much reduced. Another reason to purchase fruits and vegtables locally and eat produce in season.

Feb. 17 2009 11:42 AM
Elena Hoeppner

Hasn't vitamin C helped chemotherapy patients?

Feb. 17 2009 11:41 AM
Kate Green from Riverdale

Hi --How about multivitamins with IRON and CALCIUM specifically for women? Thanks

Feb. 17 2009 11:40 AM
Christopher Cayten from New York City

My wife has been told that taking fish oil in large quantities is good for fetal brain development, and she took the pills for 3 years before getting pregnant. Is there any proof that this is a good idea?

Feb. 17 2009 11:39 AM
Jennifer from NYC

What about prenatal vitamins??

Feb. 17 2009 11:39 AM
Wendy from NYC Manhattan

I have been taking calcium, magnesium, vitamin D and strontium for my bone health for osteopenia, and my scores have improved dramatically in the past three years, and I have basically eliminated the tendency for bone fracture. I would caution your readers to look at the validity of these studies.

Feb. 17 2009 11:38 AM
Brianne from Harlem

My only concern is taking calcium to replace the apparent depletion of such birth control pills cause... should I be better about taking calcium to prevent osteoporosis?

Feb. 17 2009 11:38 AM
ch from NJ

Vitamin D deficiency is considered epidemic in the US. You must take a vitamin D3 supplement during the winter or if you don't get enough sunshine all year round. 2000 IU per day is recommended.

Feb. 17 2009 11:38 AM
Betty Ann from UES

I've been reading a lot about Americans having vitamin D deficiency. I take a multivitamin but am never sure if that's enough. I avoid the sun for cancer reason (wrinkles). What's a girl to do?

Feb. 17 2009 11:37 AM
SuzanneNYC from Upper West Side

Talk about Zinc. The combination of zinc and vitamin C is very powerful. It's not a placebo effect. And you have to take it all the time, not just when you feel that you're coming down with something. It's a chemical reaction in your body that needs to go one all the time.

Feb. 17 2009 11:37 AM
Tony from San Jose, CA

L-lysine does help cold sores (but that's an amino acid).

I take vitamins just in case I don't eat well (but I do try to eat well).

Feb. 17 2009 11:36 AM
Nick from NYC

Can your guest comment on fish oil in particular? I thought there were many studies that found a benefit there. That's not really a vitamin...


Feb. 17 2009 11:36 AM
Zak from Washington Heights

With regard to Vitamin C and colds, the plural of "anecdote" is not "data."

Feb. 17 2009 11:36 AM
judy from NYC

If positive results haven't been approved it seems very circular to blame that on the real life issues involved. That's assuming that the vitamins are beneficial. Why should anyone believe they are if there is no proof they are. personally, i think packaging vitamins was a brilliant move on the part of the drug industry.

I don't take vitamins and i hardly ever get colds.

Feb. 17 2009 11:36 AM
Mike from Brooklyn

What about vitamins for children?

Feb. 17 2009 11:32 AM
Stephen from Prospect Heights

I went to a lecture from Weston price and they asserted all the things that I have avoided for years:

I animal fat diets and lower intake of greens. I am completely confused. is nutrition a science?

Feb. 17 2009 11:30 AM
David Rockwell from Dixon, MT

My doctor prescribed niacin to reduce cholesterol. What does your guest know about niacin and choloesterol?

Feb. 17 2009 11:29 AM

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