Sunday, June 29, 2008

To take or not to take supplements.

Often I tell to my patients that the food they eat could be their biggest enemy. Food, however, should be their best medicine. Despite this, I also take multi-vitamins and mineral supplements in the form of pills, and that sometimes surprises my clients. This is my multi-vitamins

I explain that I do that for two reasons:

(1) In American agricultural practice, soil for growing fruits and vegetables is depleted of nutrients and these are not restored properly.

(2) Fruits and vegetables are delivered from different parts of country, sometimes from abroad, and time between harvest and purchase can be weeks or even a month. Many vitamins have short lives, measured in hours or days.

Knowing this, I advocate use of natural supplements.

Today Baycrest published the results of a very small preliminary trial that involved only 16 adults with type 2 diabetes who were not regularly taking antioxidant supplements. Patients attended three weekly sessions that involved consuming a different test meal on each visit. One meal consisted of high fat foods (a Danish pastry, cheddar cheese and yogurt with added whipped cream); the second meal consisted of only water; and the third test meal was the same high-fat meal plus vitamin C (1000 mg) and E (800 IU) supplements.

“Researchers found that vitamin supplementation consistently improved recall scores relative to the meal alone. Participants who ate the high fat meal without vitamin supplements showed significantly more forgetfulness of words and paragraph information in immediate and time delay recall tests, relative to those who had the water meal or the meal with antioxidant vitamins. Those on water meal and meal with vitamins showed similar levels in cognitive performance.”

Because study was small, the authors emphasize that their findings obviously require further replication in much larger trials. “Future studies will also need to look at how the antioxidant vitamins may be working and whether vitamins are directly targeting oxidative stress reactions or triggering an independent memory-enhancing ability which is simply masking the detrimental effects.” I also would like to see if fresh fruits and vegetables will have effect similar to vitamins if taken in conjunction with meals.

It is important that this study was not financially supported by vitamin or pharmaceutical companies!!

Read more about this study here