October 11, 2011
Chocolate Safer Than Vitamins?

The study found that women who had the highest consumption of chocolate -- about two candy bars a week -- had a 20 percent reduced risk of stroke.

This is consistent with other findings.

Another study finds in women several different vitamins taken as supplements are associated with higher risk of dying.

Multivitamins, folic acid, vitamin B6, magnesium, zinc, copper and iron in particular appeared to increase mortality risk.

Calcium might be protective. But the researchers aren't confident about that finding.

Conversely, calcium supplements appeared to reduce death risk.

More here. No mention of vitamin D.

In a similar vein vitamin E supplements are associated with a higher risk of prostate cancer.

CHICAGO -- In a trial that included about 35,000 men, those who were randomized to receive daily supplementation with vitamin E had a significantly increased risk of prostate cancer, according to a study in the October 12 issue of JAMA.

"Lifetime risk of prostate cancer in the United States is currently estimated to be 16 percent. Although most cases are found at an early, curable stage, treatment is costly and urinary, sexual, and bowel-related adverse effects are common," according to background information in the article. There has been considerable preclinical and epidemiological evidence that selenium and vitamin E may reduce prostate cancer risk. "The initial report [published December 2008] of the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT) found no reduction in risk of prostate cancer with either selenium or vitamin E supplements but a statistically nonsignificant increase in prostate cancer risk with vitamin E. Longer follow-up and more prostate cancer events provide further insight into the relationship of vitamin E and prostate cancer."

More here.

So what to eat aside from chocolate? Less cooked broccoli is better than taking phytochemicals from broccoli in a pill. Activity of an enzyme called myrosinase in the broccoli makes several times more of glucosinolates chemicals get absorbed. So eat raw vegetables. Really.

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- New research has found that if you want some of the many health benefits associated with eating broccoli or other cruciferous vegetables, you need to eat the real thing a key phytochemical in these vegetables is poorly absorbed and of far less value if taken as a supplement.

The study, published by scientists in the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, is one of the first of its type to determine whether some of the healthy compounds found in cruciferous vegetables can be just as easily obtained through supplements.

The answer is no.

And not only do you need to eat the whole foods, you have to go easy on cooking them.

I'm a big cauliflower and a big chocolate eater. I do take vitamin D though and sometimes vitamin K.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2011 October 11 09:14 PM  Aging Diet Studies

PacRim Jim said at October 11, 2011 9:52 PM:

For millions of years, plants have evolved all sorts of nasty chemicals designed to make them inedible. Yet we humans eat them, anyway. Who knows what those phytochemicals do to our telomeres and mitochondria.
By taking every precaution and consulting innumerable studies, you might succeed in extending your life by the amount of time spent taking precautions and consulting studies.
However, I don't consider it to be an equitable trade to sacrifice days of youth to gain additional days of decrepitude.
Face it, life correlates strongly with death.

spindizzy said at October 12, 2011 12:04 AM:

> the highest consumption of chocolate -- about two candy bars a week

I hope one day to meet these scientists and offer them my own insights on the "highest consumption of chocolate".

MORPHEUS said at October 12, 2011 7:18 AM:

lies lies and more lies

only a chump like randall can take such an article seriously when there 1000 studies that prove vitamins extend life
and prevent diseas

and ignorig the multitrillion dollar pharma kartel who knows very well the fact that every vitamin pill u take

costs them thausands in lost revenew

vitamin d3 alone reduces incidence of most cancers by up to 50%
5000iu a day or echivalent blood level 50ng/mol or higher

so if u wanna be a naive chump like randall who thinks studies like this are not direclty paid for by the cartel
with the desired outcome to suit them

then ur a retard and thats a fact
not my opinion

Lou Pagnucco said at October 12, 2011 8:53 AM:

Interesting study, but there are so many confounding factors, it may be misleading.

However, one 1960s French study showed that a diet marginally deficient in nutrients extended lab animal lifespan - roughly comparable to caloric restriction. I am not sure how good it was or whether it was ever repeated.

WJ said at October 12, 2011 9:13 AM:

Prepare a bowl full of raw vegetables and eat them on the way to work. My car is the one place in the world where I don't notice how bland they taste, and by the end of my commute I've had 3 servings worth. Eating raw vegetables at meals is hella time consuming. But most Americans today get enough vitamins and minerals. The best thing you can do to noticeably improve your health is get regular exercise (both aerobic and strength training) and better sleep.

One of the problems noted in the study was that many of the people taking multivitamins were also taking additional supplements. For most people that's definitely overkill. Supplements shouldn't meet 100% of your daily needs, they're supplements. Look for something that provides less than 100% RDA, or take them on alternate days.

Randall Parker said at October 12, 2011 7:33 PM:


The studies told me what I wanted to be true. It fits with my desires. Why should I take the trouble to find fault with it?


You've discovered a way to make commuting good for you. That's incredible. Did you tell the press? Why aren't reporters knocking on your door to talk about it?

Even better, time to write a diet book: "The Commuter Vegetable Diet". Then you can appear on day time talk shows.

tti said at October 14, 2011 2:08 AM:

Re SELECT study.

The study used vitamin E, 400 IU of rac-alpha-tocopheryl acetate. But doesn't the typical cancer prevention claim relate to the gamma variant and mixed tocopherols? In fact the zero or negative impact of the alpha variant is already documented.

Greg said at October 19, 2011 6:20 AM:

I was about to post what tti said. It has already been well-documented that supplementing solely with alpha-tocopherol displaces gamma-tocopherol in the body. It is this decrease in gamma-tocopherol that has been linked to the negative effects of alpha-tocopherol supplementation.

This type of paper's conclusions "Vitamin E increases the risk of prostate cancer," while TRUE, is not the FULL story. You have to look deeper.

In fact, gamma tocopherol has been shown to ARREST the growth of prostate cancer cells. See below. This correlates with the above paper: when you supplement with alpha-tocopherol alone, you decrease the concentration of gamma tocopherol in the body, thus increasing rates of prostate cancer.

Free Radic Biol Med. 2011 May 15;50(10):1344-54. Epub 2011 Feb 16.
γ-Tocotrienol induces growth arrest through a novel pathway with TGFβ2 in prostate cancer.
Campbell SE, Rudder B, Phillips RB, Whaley SG, Stimmel JB, Leesnitzer LM, Lightner J, Dessus-Babus S, Duffourc M, Stone WL, Menter DG, Newman RA, Yang P, Aggarwal BB, Krishnan K.

Nutr Cancer. 2009;61(5):649-62.
Gamma tocopherol upregulates the expression of 15-S-HETE and induces growth arrest through a PPAR gamma-dependent mechanism in PC-3 human prostate cancer cells.
Campbell SE, Musich PR, Whaley SG, Stimmel JB, Leesnitzer LM, Dessus-Babus S, Duffourc M, Stone W, Newman RA, Yang P, Krishnan K.

Prostate. 2009 May 1;69(6):644-51.
Suppression of prostate cancer in a transgenic rat model via gamma-tocopherol activation of caspase signaling.
Takahashi S, Takeshita K, Seeni A, Sugiura S, Tang M, Sato SY, Kuriyama H, Nakadate M, Abe K, Maeno Y, Nagao M, Shirai T.

Marsili.us said at October 22, 2011 8:44 AM:

Two readers have already noted the importance of consuming gamma-tocopherol or mixed tocopherols, rather than just alpha-tocopherol. My understanding is that there may be advantage in the consumption of mixed tocopherols (alpha, beta, gamma, and delta) and mixed tocotrienols (alpha, beta, gamma, and delta, as well). At the start of a long-term study, such information may not have been widely known, nor even perhaps available.

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