New Supplement Results Easy to Sensationalize, Not Highly Meaningful

New research published in this month’s Archives of Internal Medicine has caused quite a stir amongst vitamin- and mineral-popping Americans [1]. Researchers report that over the course of a decades-long study, older women who regularly took vitamin and mineral supplements were more likely to die than those who did not.

This news may surprise those who look to vitamin and mineral supplements as a mechanism for maintaining — and even improving — health. However, while it would be easy to sensationalize the research findings, the reality is that there are many limitations that prevent drawing meaningful conclusions — ones that could be used to inform behavior — from the study.


Metabolic Discoveries Hidden In Our Genomes

This article was written by Allison Bland.

A recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) hints at a future where a daily multivitamin could be replaced with a personalized vitamin that would work with the unique genetic makeup of an individual’s genome [1]. Studies have repeatedly cast doubt on the effects of vitamins for the prevention of cancer and other diseases, and doctors and scientists are mixed in their recommendations for taking these supplements. A doctor may prescribe vitamins to cure metabolic diseases, but the enzymes that do this metabolic work in our bodies vary from person to person because of genetic mutations that cause them to function slightly differently.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that is used in many tissues throughout the body. The adrenal gland contains the highest concentration of vitamin C, and the vitamin plays a crucial role in both the adrenal cortex and adrenal medulla [1]. Humans are one of the few species that cannot manufacture the vitamin in the body and must depend on diet or nutritional supplementation as a source of vitamin C. The best sources of vitamin C are fresh fruit (especially in the citrus family, including oranges, lemons, limes and tangerines), strawberries, cantaloupe and currants. Green leafy vegetables, including Brussel sprouts, collard greens, lettuce, cabbage, peas and asparagus, are also good sources.

Vitamin B

Vitamin B is a complex of eight water soluble vitamins active in cell metabolism. They include Thiamine (vitamin B1), Riboflavin (vitamin B2, also called vitamin G), Niacin (vitamin B3, also called vitamin P), Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), Pyridoxine and Pyridoxamine (vitamin B6), Biotin (vitamin B7, also called vitamin H), Folic acid (vitamin B9, also called vitamin M) and Cyanocobalamin (vitamin B12).

Note: This review is not meant to be a comprehensive or definitive glossary, but rather to identify each vitamin’s function and highlight recent research findings of each of the B vitamins.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A consists of a group of compounds that play an important role in vision, bone growth, reproduction, cell division and cell differentiation [1]. It helps to regulate the immune system and may also help lymphocytes (meaning a type of white blood cell) better fight infection [2].