The Health Edge 34: Daily Multivitamin and Antioxidant Supplements- Is there any value?

J & M cartoonIn this episode of The Health Edge John and Mark explore the science of risk-benefit as it relates to the daily use of multivitamin-antioxidant supplements. The discussion focuses on an important concept (hormesis-delicate balance or homeostasis of biologic systems) of managing free radicals from excessive oxidative stress which is known to accelerate aging and increase disease risk. The question is whether the evidence supports daily “multi” use as an effective strategy to prolong life, protect a poor diet, and to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, etc. Enjoy!

Multivitamin-and-mineral-supplement-may-offer-invasive-breast-cancer-hope-StudyAntioxidant Balance Review (for the true biochemistry geek!)


Multivitamins and Prevention of Heart Disease in Men. JAMA 2012

2 thoughts on “The Health Edge 34: Daily Multivitamin and Antioxidant Supplements- Is there any value?

  1. Marianne

    This podcast is outstanding and very timely for me.

    I have intermediate age-related macular degeneration (AMD). As Mark referenced, patients with this condition are told to take the AREDS supplements, which include antioxidants and zinc. Retinologists give this “one size fits all” direction without caveats to their patients with intermediate AMD.

    Many people with intermediate AMD have also had melanoma and thus have a lifetime risk of metastasis from that occurrence as well as heightened risk of new melanomas. A Swedish study that was published October 7 (just the day before your podcast) in the journal Science Translational Medicine based on research in mice (with some supporting evidence from human cells in petri dishes) showed that taking antioxidants doubles the risk of metastasis of melanoma to lymph nodes. The investigators believe that antioxidants at high enough levels protect melanoma cells from free radicals, much like they help protect normal cells. They concluded that people who have been diagnosed with malignant melanoma should avoid antioxidant supplements.

    So there you squarely have the issues that you presented so well and that I now face.

    Thank you so very much for doing these podcasts, which help lay people like myself to be much better informed about health-related matters and better equipped to make decisions based on the best science known, as the thinking constantly evolves.


  2. Marianne

    As a follow up to my prior post, I just saw a study published in the Oct 8 JAMA Ophthamology, showing that the progression of AMD to advanced is lessened by 25-40% by high levels of dietary lutein/zeaxanthin and carotenoids.

    Mark mentioned AREDs supplements in the podcast. The ARED Study showed the progression of AMD to advanced is lessened by 25% by taking the AREDS supplements, which also contain lutein/zeaxanthin as well as zinc and Vitamins A, C, and E.

    Query what the chances are that, going forward, retinologists will tout dietary changes plus zinc like they have touted AREDS supplements. The kale and spinach growers should take a page from the AREDS purveyors on how to market this.


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