Trillions of microorganisms – mainly bacteria and yeast – inhabit your intestines and make up your microbiome. These microbes help us obtain nutrients from food we normally can’t digest, and they also help protect us from opportunistic infections caused by pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria. We are only beginning to understand the importance of the microbiome in maintaining our health.
Recently, the Linus Pauling Institute hosted a webinar by our resident expert on vitamin C, Dr. Alexander Michels, PhD, entitled “All There is to C.”
There wasn’t enough time to answer all the questions, so we have now posted Part 1 of the Q&A on vitamin C below. Stay tuned for Part 2.
Reports from clinical trials involving vitamin E supplementation have been mixed. Many of these studies focused on heart disease, with some showing benefits, while others did not. Some trials have reported adverse health outcomes associated with vitamin E supplements. Perhaps most concerning were the results of SELECT clinical trial – a cancer prevention study that found high-dose (400 IU/day) vitamin E supplementation increased the risk of prostate cancer in healthy men.
Often these clinical trials, as with the SELECT trial, provided vitamin E in dosages far exceeding dietary intake recommendations (15 mg/day or 22.5 IU/day of α-tocopherol). Thus, based on the totality of the evidence to date, the Linus Pauling Institute no longer recommends high-dose vitamin E supplements. However, this should not be interpreted to mean that vitamin E itself is something to be avoided.
A trip to a grocery or health food store shows that there are many different kinds of supplements out there. It can be difficult for consumers to choose a particular supplement given the large number of options available and the wide variety of health claims. There is a dizzying array of options, doses, and formulations that can often leave consumers baffled.
“Don’t waste clean thinking on dirty data.”
For decades we have been trying to understand the effects of vitamin C on the immune system, especially since Linus Pauling wrote Vitamin C and the Common Cold in 1970, with only limited success. Our best and most comprehensive analysis of the data at hand, collected from decades of research studies, shows that vitamin C has very limited effects on the frequency and duration of the common cold in the general population. This has led many to conclude that taking vitamin C to ward off a cold just isn’t worth it.
A surprising number of Americans fall short of micronutrient intake recommendations, as we have discussed in previous blog posts. While most of us are not suffering from rickets or pellagra (vitamin D and niacin deficiency diseases, respectively), many people may experience micronutrient ‘inadequacy’—insufficient intakes for optimum health.
It is hard to know if you have an inadequate diet. Often there is no telltale sign of an existing micronutrient inadequacy, as many have non-specific symptoms or no symptoms at all. Yet, the evidence suggests that these inadequacies may have very real and long-term consequences on our health and well-being.
As an example, we turn to Dr. Maret Traber’s new review on vitamin E inadequacy. Marginal vitamin E status is difficult to define, and its effects on neurological function are often subtle, in contrast to frank or severe vitamin E deficiency.
Recent research at the Linus Pauling Institute has found that lipoic acid, a substance found in many plants and animals and also made in the body, modulates circadian rhythms in laboratory rodents. We realize that circadian rhythms aren’t something you hear about every day, so here is a primer on circadian rhythms and their importance.
The Linus Pauling Institute has some very exciting research to report on potential therapies for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Using a mouse model of ALS, Dr. Joseph Beckman (one of the leading researchers in this field, and a distinguished professor at the Linus Pauling Institute) and his colleagues in Australia and the United Kingdom have shown that a copper compound, called CuATSM, delayed the onset of symptoms and extended lifespan.
Put simply, this is potentially groundbreaking.
Following nutrition news headlines in the last few months, its hard to escape a message that multivitamins are useless and that the science all points to these supplements being a complete waste of money (Guallar et al., “Enough Is Enough”).
This is simply not the case. In a recently published letter in Annals of Internal Medicine, nutrition experts from the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute, Tufts University, and the Harvard School of Public Health gather scientific evidence to show that the conclusions to stop your multivitamins are just plain wrong.
Want to see for yourself?