An observational study and data collection of more than 30,000 people in decades have concluded that: It is true that some vitamins and minerals can help you prolong your life, especially to prevent cardiovascular disease. But that effect only appears when you take vitamins from food, not packaged functional foods.
The study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, reaffirms findings from previous studies that show the same results: Drinking vitamin and mineral supplements does not bring any significant benefits. reducing the risk of general death, or death from cardiovascular disease and cancer in particular.
Simply understood, functional foods cannot replace a healthy diet. An entire industry worth $ 30 billion may only be operating based on trust, not scientific evidence.
This is a study that the $ 30 billion functional food industry doesn't want you to know
While, consumers are less warned about the side effects of vitamins and minerals. Benefits are not harmful, in some cases they can cause scary effects. For example, the study found that the use of high-dose calcium supplements (greater than 1,000 mg per day) was associated with a higher risk of death from cancer.
Similar results were observed in the group of people without vitamin D deficiency but still taking functional foods. These people not only increase their risk of dying from cancer but also from all other causes, according to warning studies.
Why are the same substances, vitamins and minerals in beneficial foods, and in capsules that are blister-like as useless drugs?
Scientists are not sure. But they hypothesize that evolution has programmed humans to absorb and use micronutrients in low concentrations and proportions, just like the concentration they appear in food.
The authors of the new study are a group of nutrition experts, led by a researcher from Tufts University noting that:
"Human foods consumed and nutrients in them have a very close correlation with each other. The complex interactions of this nutrient are likely to play an important role in their health consequences [thứ mà chất dinh dưỡng đứng riêng lẻ không làm được]".
Take calcium case as an example. Previous research has shown that excess calcium from food – such as a cup of milk before going to bed – affects the intestines, causing the body to automatically adjust and cut the amount of calcium it absorbs to protect it. friend.
As a result, researchers found that much of the calcium was excreted through the urine, proving that when the body is getting enough calcium, you won't absorb any more of this mineral from food.
But also a similar scenario, just replacing the milk cup with a calcium-containing functional food tablet, the result should have been observed does not occur. The intestine still absorbs excess calcium, leading to some side effects such as constipation, kidney stones …
The same are the same substances, vitamins and minerals in foods are beneficial, while in capsules is useless
More research is needed on the effects and harms of functional foods
Functional foods are being used very popularly, because sanctions that manage them are not as strict as medicine. In the United States, more than half of the adult population reports that they use functional foods. 10% use 4 or more functional foods every day.
Therefore, it is necessary and urgent to study the benefits and risks that functional foods can cause. New research published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine is a step in that process.
Scientists from Tufts University have re-analyzed the mountain of data from a national survey related to health and nutrition, conducted between 1999 and 2010. This data mountain includes information The news of 30,899 people, with more than 27,000 of them, provided information about the types of functional foods they had taken and the types of food they had eaten.
The survey also collected other demographic and health data, including smoking habits, alcohol consumption, exercise or chronic illnesses, such as cancer and diabetes.
Participants provided their information to well-trained interviewers. The authors studied, then, linked the medical records of the survey participants when they died. A total of 3,613 people died during the follow-up period.
Like the overall rate, more than half of the participants reported using supplements. Nearly 40% use multivitamins. The most common functional foods that everyone uses are vitamin C, D and E, as well as calcium and magnesium tablets.
In the United States, more than half of the adult population reports that they use functional foods. 10% use 4 or more functional foods every day.
Based on reports from participants, the researchers estimated the amount of micronutrients they absorbed into the body each day, according to each source of food and dietary supplements. They want to see if these people eat poorly, fully or exceed the recommended dose.
The results at first show that people using functional foods seem to reduce the risk of death from all causes. But that connection disappeared when researchers looked at demographic and health data.
"Our results and other scientists show that people who use functional foods have higher levels of education and income, and their lifestyle is healthier (for example, they have a better diet). , higher levels of physical activity, no smoking, alcohol consumption and a healthy weight) ".
Therefore, tablets containing vitamins and minerals may not be the main factors involved. Instead, people reduce their risk of death thanks to their healthy lifestyle and economic status.
This is confirmed when researchers separate each micronutrient to form longitudinal slices. They found that adequate vitamin K and magnesium supplementation were associated with a lower risk of death from all causes.
In addition, vitamin A, vitamin K, zinc and copper are associated with a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease. But these benefits are only available when participants load them from food rather than functional foods.
One is real food, one is tablets, what do you choose?
As explained above, this effect may occur because the absorption of vitamins and minerals depends on their concentration and how the micronutrients interact with food. But how concentration and interactions occur, more research is needed to explain.
"Our findings on individual nutrients should be considered carefully and carefully exploredTo be fair, this is just an observational study, which means that only the correlation can be made, not proven that nutrients cause any harm or any benefit.
Therefore, researchers call on the scientific community to pay more attention to the topic, based on the fact that functional foods are being used by an extremely large population.
One thing is certain "Adequate intake of nutrients from food may contribute to reducing the risk of death, but excessive supplementation of dietary supplements may increase that risk."they write.