How Vitamin Pills May Affect Lifespan

The issue of vitamin supplements is far from settled. Most doctors take multivitamins themselves and recommend them to their patients. However, I continue to believe that it is better to get vitamins in whole foods than in pills.

Most vitamins are parts of enzymes that start chemical reactions in your body. Each chemical reaction produces end products that are changed by further chemical reactions from other vitamins to other products that benefit your body. When you take a vitamin that has been isolated from the hundreds of other substances found in foods, that enzyme causes a chemical reaction that accumulates a disproportionate amount of its end products. If the substance that acts as an enzyme for the next chain of chemical reactions is not available, you can accumulate end products that may be harmful.

For example, people who take niacin to lower cholesterol show a marked elevation of homocysteine, a major risk factor for heart attacks. Homocysteine levels are raised by a deficiency of B12, folic acid and pyridoxine. When you eat your niacin in whole grains, all of those components are present, along with many others whose functions we may not yet understand.

The study I mentioned in the previous post is in Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews More


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