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Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2012 Oct;82(5):327-32. doi: 10.1024/0300-9831/a000127.

Vitamins - wrong approaches.

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Deficiencies of essential nutrients have been responsible for many epidemic outbreaks of deficiency diseases in the past. Large observational studies point at possible links between nutrition and chronic diseases. Low intake of antioxidant vitamins e. g. have been correlated to increased risk of cardiovascular diseases or cancer. The main results of these studies are indications that an intake below the recommendation could be one of the risk factors for chronic diseases. There was hardly any evidence that amounts above the RDA could be of additional benefit. Since observational studies cannot prove causality, the scientific community has been asking for placebo-controlled, randomized intervention trials (RCTs). Thus, the consequences of the epidemiological studies would have been to select volunteers whose baseline vitamin levels were below the recommended values. The hypothesis of the trial should be that correcting this risk factor up to RDA levels lowers the risk of a disease like CVD by 20 - 30 %. However, none of the RCTs of western countries was designed to correct a chronic marginal deficiency, but they rather tested whether an additional supplement on top of the recommended values would be beneficial in reducing a disease risk or its prognosis. It was, therefore, not surprising that the results were disappointing. As a matter of fact, the results confirmed the findings of the observational studies: chronic diseases are the product of several risk factors, among them most probably a chronic vitamin deficiency. Vitamin supplements could only correct the part of the overall risk that is due to the insufficient vitamin intake.

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