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The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter, Issue #119, Vitamins du jour
August 01, 2013

August 1, 2013

In this newsletter . . .

Vitamins du jour

Anyone compulsive enough to pay attention to the frequent supplement studies in the news (people like me), may be pulling out their hair. Why? Consider the following:

Remember back in the Linus Pauling days (1970s) when vitamin C was the fair-haired boy of the vitamin world? That’s when it was thought in some quarters that massive doses of C could deal a knockout blow to nearly everything bad from cancer to the common cold. Dr. Pauling was a brilliant man, but it turned out that things were a bit overstated.

Don’t get me wrong. Vitamin C is a good thing. Way back in the mid-1700s British sailors learned that eating limes (rich in vitamin C) during long periods at sea would prevent scurvy. Two hundred years later, it was thought that if some vitamin C is good for us, then a lot of it might be even better. But mega-dosing it in the 20th century turned out not the cure-all some people thought.

Then for a while vitamin E took over center stage. Saturating ourselves with E was said to be heart healthy. And when they said it could improve one’s sex life, that really got people’s attention. But more recent studies indicate that too much of the stuff might not be such a good idea after all. It even made some people statistically more prone to certain cancers.

Today’s supplement superstars have been vitamin D and fish oil’s Omega-3 fatty acids. Now recently fish oil has taken a hit. One study result suggests too much of it can mean an increased risk of prostate cancer in some men. But most recently, the disconcerting fish oil study seems to have been discredited. Things can get confusing.

Here is my take on studies in the news.

First of all, we should remember that all of the above nutrients are essential to good health. In proper amounts, they are good for us. No doubt about it. But the key words are “proper amounts.”

Second, I think we should resist overreaction to any “latest study” in the news. Let’s allow doctors and scientists a little time to analyze all the information and sort things out. Some “latest studies” that get reported turn out to be flawed. But, yes, some are valid too. Given time, the truth gets revealed.

Next, (my advice) never mega-dose any supplement unless under a doctor’s direction. More of something good is not always better. Sometimes more can be counterproductive, even dangerous.

Last, the best way to be sure all our nutritional bases are covered is by eating a variety of good foods. No pills or supplements can adequately compensate for lousy eating habits. So clean up your diet if it’s faulty. My own thoughts on what constitutes healthy eating can be found here.

So do we need supplements at all if we are following good dietary practices? Here’s one thought: It seems reasonable that as we age our bodies become a little less efficient at utilizing the nutrients in the food we eat. So maybe a little vitamin/mineral insurance is wise. But be careful. It is easy to get caught in the if-a-little-bit-is-good-then-more-is-even-better trap.

My personal view of supplements can be found here.

A note to my subscribers: I have a Facebook page also dedicated to strength, health and fitness matters. On it you’ll find fitness related items plucked from news media and my comments about them. Please take a look. If you like what you discover, clicking the “Like” button on my Facebook page would be appreciated. I'm told it helps my standing with Google. Thanks, Logan.

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Newsletter Policy

The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter is a free publication sent twice monthly to subscribers. The purpose is to provide honest and realistic fitness information for people age 50 and above.

I have never been paid or received compensation of any kind to write a positive review or endorse a product. If I say that I personally use a product or service, it is because I find value in it and have paid for it with my own money.

Like newspapers, magazines and television, this newsletter and my web site contain advertising and marketing links. Naturally, I am compensated for these.

The newsletter and web site provide information to help users establish and maintain a fitness lifestyle. But fitness information is not the same as fitness advice, which is the application of exercise and dietary practices to an individual's specific circumstances. Therefore, always consult with your physician for assurance that fitness information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate for you.

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Logan Franklin
The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter

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