Supplements found to be fairly useless

Wishful

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The pharma industry loves manipulating numbers. I remember one report stating that some supplement 'reduced the risk of heart attack by 25%!' What the report actually showed was a trial with 200 people taking the supplement and 200 controls. Four controls had heart attacks, and only three on the supplement. Three vs four is a 25% improvement! It sounds so much better than .5% (one in 200). That's based on a fairly small sample. My guess is that if they tested 200,000, the numbers might still be just a few different, rather than 3000 vs 4000.

My view on supplements is that you need to experiment to see if it works for you for a particular medical issue. Kind of hard to tell whether it will work for you to reduce the risk of a medical issue 20 years in the future. For that I'd have to rely on trustworthy studies.
 

pamojja

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The pharma industry loves manipulating numbers. I remember one report stating that some supplement 'reduced the risk of heart attack by 25%!' What the report actually showed was a trial with 200 people taking the supplement and 200 controls. Four controls had heart attacks, and only three on the supplement. Three vs four is a 25% improvement! It sounds so much better than .5% (one in 200).
Of course, both the pharma and supplement industry preferably report relative numbers of improvement, than the absolute percentage. For making it look more promissing. Your example of some supplement looks about the same why there is this confusion about efficacy even of physicians about the block-buster drug statin (about as big in billions as the whole of the supplement industry).

For simplicity and in average: of 100 in the statin group 2 die, of 100 in the placebo group 3 die. Reported will be the 30% increased survival on statins (in relative number not mentioned, but has to be evaluated from the study itself), and not the 1% in absolute percentage. And even docs in my experience haven't learnt that important distinction. Most indeed believe it is effective in 30% of patients.

Same if the risk increase for supplements is exagerated, for example in the famous ATBC trial for beta-carotene in smokers. Calculated in absolute percentage its just a tiny 1%.

Even LifeExtension with their otherwise high quality supplements does that notorously in their magazine. One just has to be aware of and read the actual studies to differentiate.

Kind of hard to tell whether it will work for you to reduce the risk of a medical issue 20 years in the future. For that I'd have to rely on trustworthy studies.
As already pointed out in detail and for which reasons, there are none :-(
As there are for most used prescribiton meds like statin, and which show efficacy for just about 1% who use it after 5 years (concerning mortality).

But after having experienced even remission from a non-reversible condition with life-style changes and comprehensive supplementation, I'm now convinced it could have been prevented with only a tiny fraction of my tremendous efforts now needed. If we only knew that from experience beforehand...
 
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@Wishful
The nutraceutical industry is going to hate that. :)
But BigPharma, who are probably the machine behind this article and the many others that just keep popping up constantly ("Vit D Is Useless .....", "Vit C Is Badly Absorbed and Probably Damaging To Your Kidneys ....","B- Vitamins Rot Your Brain And Cause Global Warming ....")are just hugging themselves in joyous delirium and laughing their well-padded @sses off ....
 
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@Mouse girl
They've also found that women taking multivitamins have a shorter life span than those who do not take them
Could you offer citations on this? It would really help, since I have no idea who 'they' are.
You can't be sure what you are even taking since there is no regulation on supplements in the US.
Yes and no. The US does have some of the strictest manufacturing regulations in the developed world, which limits the damage to some extent.


Even the Romans, some 2000 years ago, knew that boondogglery was unavoidable, and coined the oft-quoted phrase, Caveat Emptor.

And there are always going to be people who'll buy any kind of snake oil that seems to speak to them. Probably in parsel tongue.....
 
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@Wishful
I haven't read of any credible trials of megadose nutrients
Expensive to do, and very hard to find ptential trial subjects without overwhelming health issues that could be calaimed to hae skewed the results one away or another.


Check out Orthomolecular Medicine for some input on mega dosing.
It does match my observations, so it's human for me to give it a higher value than otherwise.
Confirmation bias is, next to statistics, the greatest enemy of truth and/or clarity.
 
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@Wishful
The pharma industry loves manipulating numbers. I remember one report stating that some supplement 'reduced the risk of heart attack by 25%!'
Back in college, I took an elective course (because it looked interesting and nothing else I was taking that semester was) called something like Lies, Damn Lies, And Statistics...

It was absolutely fascinating. I remember little about it specifically, but one example the prof gave has stuck with me down the years:


Statistic, at that time absolutely true: 97% of hard drug users started with marijuana.
Implied truth:
97% of marijuana users will move on to hard drugs.
Actual facts:
Only 5% of marijuana users ever even try hard drugs,
but of those who use hard drugs, 97% started on marijuana.

The truth is slippery, and like innocents abroad, easily subjected to manipulation.

So if it works for you, it's good. If not, move on to something that does. Regardless of the source, or the reviews, or the current received wisdom.
 

pamojja

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An other example of a rare study where they actually trialled chellation therapy (TACT) , but in retrospect also found:

High-dose multivitamin and mineral supplementation associated with fewer cardiac events in non-statin users following heart attack

...Each group also received six tablets daily of a high-dose, orally administered vitamin and mineral supplement or an oral placebo for the duration of the trial. The supplement provided vitamins A, C, D3, E, K1, B1, B3, B5 and B6, folate, PABA, choline, inositol, biotin, calcium, iodine, magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper, manganese, chromium, molybdenum, potassium, boron, vanadium and citrus bioflavonoids.

...For non-statin users who received multivitamins and minerals, the risk of any of these outcomes was 38% lower compared to those who received an oral placebo. Mortality from any cause over follow-up was 53% lower in the supplemented group.

Participants who received the vitamins and minerals also experienced a 54% lower risk of the study’s secondary end point of cardiovascular mortality, stroke or recurrent heart attack. When cardiovascular mortality alone was considered, vitamin and mineral supplementation was associated with a 61% decrease in risk.

...“The drug therapy model used by these studies is useful for studying single agents to determine their effectiveness for specific clinical applications but do not extend well to the more complex multicomponent therapies increasingly used for self-care by large numbers of the general population together with many patients with diverse illnesses,” they write.

“High-dose oral multivitamin and multimineral supplementation seem to decrease combined cardiac events in a stable, post-myocardial infarction population not taking statin therapy at baseline,” they conclude. “These unexpected findings are being retested in the ongoing TACT2.”
Note, this is an LEF article, one can be sure they report 'relative' risk decreases only.
 

PatJ

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Lies, Damn Lies, And Statistics...
It might have used this book for good examples: How to lie with statistics, first published in 1954. Statistical lies have probably been around as long as statistics.

This site provides detailed examples from the book. This example applies to this thread:
Say that you cannot prove that your new drug helps cure a cold. But you can prove that it kills thousands of germs. Maybe even more than your previous drugs. Maybe 30% more?

It might not do a thing to help people overcome a cold, but it certainly sounds good.
 
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@PatJ
I think that might have been one of them. I remember the prof said it may have been an old book (sophomoric scoffers, doncha' know), but nothing had changed since the Romans or perhaps the early Mesopotamians, and it was well written and entertaining as well as colossally informative.

Thanks for that. Will look for it on Amazon. Lost my old copy by loaning it out to an interested party, something that never ends well.

And will check out your link, too, altho it's hard to imagine getting even more cynical.


You're right on, as always :hug::hug::hug: :woot::woot: :thumbsup:
 

Wishful

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Note, this is an LEF article, one can be sure they report 'relative' risk decreases only.
Hmmm, that's an article that is missing so much critical information that it's hard to place any value on it. It could be a finding worth followup, or it could be blatant manipulation of meaningless results. I assume there are people who do look for such research and can judge the quality properly.
 

pamojja

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Hmmm, that's an article that is missing so much critical information that it's hard to place any value on it.
It is very easy to find these studies when marking a whole sentence out of it, and search for it. Here it is (very detailed, even giving doses for all nutrients):

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002870317302739

Results
The primary end point occurred in 137 nonstatin participants (30%), of which 51 (23%) of 224 were in the active group and 86 (36%) of 236 were taking placebo (hazard ratio, 0.62; 95% confidence interval, 0.44-0.87; P = .006). Results in the key TACT secondary end point, a combination of cardiovascular mortality, stroke, or recurrent MI, was consistent in favoring the active vitamin group (hazard ratio, 0.46; 95% confidence interval, 0.28-0.75; P = .002). Multiple end point analyses were consistent with these results
Therefore in absulute risk reduction (difference between 23% and 36%) it was a 13%! Which in number need to treat would be 1 in 7.7 for all end points.

Death 18 (8%) 41 (17%)
For mortality after 55 month still 9% in absolute risk reduction. About 1 in 10. Of course, it first will have to be replicated, results from TACT2 seem to become available in 2021. But compare that to the 1 life in 83 saved from statins!
 
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Wishful

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I skimmed through it. I noticed that they didn't seem to provide a graph for the people taking the placebo chelation treatments, which seems important to me.

The outcome does make me wonder if it's representing dietary deficiencies in the trial population.
 

pamojja

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The outcome does make me wonder if it's representing dietary deficiencies in the trial population.
Of course. These are the suspected percentage of deficiencies in the general population just from food-questionares:

How Much is Too Much? : Appendix B: Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies in the U.S.

Nutrient from food alone, ranked by the occurrence of dietary inadequacy among adults | Percentage of dietary intakes below the estimated average requirement for a specific population* | Naturally occurring sources of nutrient**

2-to-8-year-old children | 14-to-18-year-old girls | Adults 19 and older

Vitamin D | 81% | 98% | 95% | Fatty fish, mushrooms [vitamin D is naturally formed in the body when skin is exposed to sunlight; vitamin D is added to fortified milk]

Vitamin E | 65% | 99% | 94% | Nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, green leafy vegetables

Magnesium | 2% | 90% | 61% | Whole grains, wheat bran and wheat germ, green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds

Vitamin A | 6% | 57% | 51% | Preformed vitamin A: liver, fatty fish, milk, eggs; provitamin A carotenoids: carrots, pumpkins, tomatoes, leafy green vegetables

Calcium | 23% | 81% | 49% | Milk, yogurt, cheese, kale, broccoli

Vitamin C | 2% | 45% | 43% | All fruits and vegetables, particularly citrus fruits and tomatoes

Vitamin B6 | 0.1% | 18% | 15% | Many foods; highest levels in fish, beef, poultry, potatoes and other starchy vegetables, and fruit other than citrus

Folate | 0.2% | 19% | 13% | Many foods; highest levels in spinach, liver, asparagus, Brussels sprouts [mandatory, standardized addition to enriched flour and flour products]

Zinc | 0.2% | 24% | 12% | Red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, some seafood, whole grains

Iron | 0.7% | 12% | 8% | Highest amounts in meat and seafood; lower levels in nuts and beans [mandatory, standardized addition to enriched flour and flour products]

Thiamin | 0.1% | 10% | 7% | Whole grain products [mandatory, standardized addition to enriched flour and flour products]

Copper | 0% | 16% | 5% | Shellfish, whole grains, beans, nuts, potatoes, organ meats (kidneys, liver)

Vitamin B12 | 0% | 7% | 4% | Animal products: fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk

Riboflavin | 0% | 5% | 2% | Milk and dairy products, eggs, meat, green leafy vegetables, legumes [mandatory, standardized addition to enriched flour and flour products]

Niacin | 0.1% | 4% | 2% | Meat, fish, seeds and nuts, whole grains [mandatory, standardized addition to enriched flour and flour products]

Selenium | 0% | 2% | 1% | Found in different plant and animal foods; highest levels in seafood and organ meats (kidneys, liver)
Just as most of the US population at least has some of them, I had most of them. Verified by testing where possible or by improvement in deficiency symtoms (Vit D, Magnesium, Vit A, Calcium, Vit C, Vit B6, Folate, Zinc, Iron, Vit B12, etc). No wonder I had so many wrongly considered chronic non-reversible diseases.
 
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Wishful

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I was thinking more about the paper. I'm not enough of a statistician (and too brainfogged) to figure out the quality of the numbers presented. I think what's bothering me is the interpretation. I don't accept it as proof that high-dose multivitamins reduces the heart attack risk of most people by x%. I think a more likely interpretation is that x% of the people in the study had a condition, maybe nutritional deficiency, that could be corrected by one or more of the nutrients used in the study, and that for many of those, one dose might have been enough. The trial population was of people who had suffered a heart attack, so that population might be biased towards bad diet and otherwise unhealthy lifestyle. It certainly calls for follow-up studies to figure out what was the actual cause of the effect.

Another possibility, while I'm thinking about it: perhaps one of more of the nutrients has a non-nutritional property that thins the blood or reduces clumping of blood cells or some other activity that reduces the chance of whatever causes the heart problems studied. Perhaps the same effect can be achieved or even improved on by a non-nutritional substance. Boiler systems and engine lubricants have various additives to improve flow and reduce corrosion. Biological systems should be able to benefit from additives that work physically rather than biochemically.

If you look hard enough for evidence that can be interpreted in a way to support a theory, you'll likely find some. Looking at the same evidence without a desired finding in mind might lead to a different interpretation. I haven't seen convincing evidence that high-dosage multivitamins are going to provide significant health benefits for the average person. Special cases are special cases.
 

pamojja

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I haven't seen convincing evidence that high-dosage multivitamins are going to provide significant health benefits for the average person
You're convinced from the start of this thread that supplements harm and don't help. No analysis of any study will convince you otherwise, as long as you don't learn how to read studies on your own as if your life depends on it.
 

Wishful

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You're convinced from the start of this thread that supplements harm and don't help.
No, I'm not convinced that they harm (most people), and I'm not convinced that they don't help at least some people. I do think it's most likely that taking supplemental vitamins at the recommended dosage doesn't provide significant benefits for most people. Looking at it another way, most of the supplements sold are a waste of money for most people. Most people buy them because they want to be convinced that popping a pill magically solves their potential future health problems. They don't want to exercise adequately, and eating a healthy diet is more of a sacrifice than they want to make, so they look for convenient magic solutions. Feel guilty about buying a donut? Buy the vitamin-enriched probiotic fibre-enhanced donut instead, and feel that you've done your healthy activity for the day. Do ads for supplements really say that taking a pill will provide the same health benefits as a wholesome diet plus exercise? No, but people are willing to accept that interpretation of the claims.

I've read ads and health magazine articles about how omega-3 oils and other such supplements will reduce my risk of heart disease by huge amounts. By those articles, I'd be crazy to not take my daily supplements. I did do some deeper research, since my doctor recommended statins or omega-3 supplements for preventing death (I had slightly lowered good cholesteral reading). All the credible research papers I read indicated that the benefits were trivial: a few % reduction of risk even at high doses of supplements. The alternative, which my doctor didn't even mention, walking even a moderate amount per week reduced the risk by 70%. So, I'm not impressed by supplements, even when recommended by a doctor. I also decided against further standard preventative testing without doing my own research on their merits, because the medical industry seems to be pushing for such tests to find abnormalities that probably won't cause a noticeable health problem, but which can be presented to the patient as a convincing argument for expensive treatments, some of which might have a greater risk of harm than the 'discovered' problem.

I do see value in some supplements for some situations. Some people have medical issues that prevent absorbing adequate amounts from food. Some people prefer eating junk food and taking expensive supplements to provide what's missing; that's their choice. Some people might have medical conditions that require greater than normal serum levels of the nutrient (or many nutrients). Some people might feel happier and healthier on megasupplement cocktails, which is fine, even if it's just the placebo effect and that they'd feel less happy even if just as healthy, if you managed to convince them that the supplements weren't really doing anything significant biologically.

The study this thread is about said that most supplements are a waste of money for most people. I haven't seen any comments showing clear flaws in the study or its results. I haven't seen any credible studies showing that taking a multivitamin every day is going to improve my health noticeably.

The study you posted isn't about normal healthy people taking supplements, it's about a specific subgroup of the population already suffering from severe medical problems, and as I pointed out, it isn't clear whether the supplements provide an x% benefit for all those people, or whether it's just showing that x% of them have a specific problem that can be treated by supplements, not necessarily of high-dosage daily multivitamins. I don't think that's just my failure to read the study properly; it's that the information just isn't there to be read. It would take more studies to figure out why some people showed a reduction of risk, and how much of which nutrients were necessary how often. Even if they did do those studies, it might not apply to the majority of the population.
 

pamojja

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Thanks for your thoughtful reply.

Most people buy them because they want to be convinced that popping a pill magically solves their potential future health problems. They don't want to exercise adequately, and eating a healthy diet is more of a sacrifice than they want to make, so they look for convenient magic solutions. ... Do ads for supplements really say that taking a pill will provide the same health benefits as a wholesome diet plus exercise?
In the EU there is on every supplement the obligatory claimer: Do not exceed the recommended daily intake. Food supplements should not be used as a substitute for a balanced and varied diet and healthy lifestyle. Keep out of the reach of small children.

Which is simply a warning from interest groups not to use supplement to tread any disease, which in most cases is only possible with many times multiples of the RDA. Even for already apearant plain deficiencies. Just as supplements can't substititude for lifestyle changes and a varied diet, so also lifestyle and a varied diet can't substitute for high-dose nutrients with therapeutic actions.

All those members of PhoenixRising and elsewhere, which had amazing healing stories, did so by changing diet, lifestyle and comprehensive supplementation. It's on the contrary the pharmaceutical model which proposes magic pill thinking, one pill for each symptom.

I did do some deeper research, since my doctor recommended statins or omega-3 supplements for preventing death (I had slightly lowered good cholesteral reading). All the credible research papers I read indicated that the benefits were trivial: a few % reduction of risk even at high doses of supplements. The alternative, which my doctor didn't even mention, walking even a moderate amount per week reduced the risk by 70%.
The difference between statins and nutrients, is the former has extensively researched in the one-agent-at-a-time model. And thereby found useless for primary intervention, as in your case. Nutrients don't have that much reseach, and as already repeatedly pointed out, work in concert with all other nutrients rarely ever studied.

Just as it is true there isn't real evidence especially looking at it through the 1-agent-at-a-time pharmaceutical model, there are really negligible side-effects compared to pharmaceuticals. And as a patient with nothing further to loose no reason not to experiment with comprehensive supplementation. But if one intents to take omega-3 as a magic pill, and not with all nutrients working in concert, it certainly will of course always fail.

I haven't seen any comments showing clear flaws in the study or its results.
From the authors of the study itself:

Limitations:
Suboptimal quality and certainty of evidence.
Even if they did do those studies, it might not apply to the majority of the population.
The majority of the population is deficient in some of the essiental vitamins and minerals. Why you don't do yourself a favor - if you not already have done so - and find out with lab-testing where you are deficient in? (retinol, vitamin E, RBC magnesium, 25(OH)D, MMA, zinc, etc.)
 
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