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Get Your Vitamins From Food, Not Pills

One in three women and one in four men in the United States take vitamin pills. If you are among them, you may be doing more harm than good. In a wake up call to the multibillion dollar vitamin pill industry, a review of 67 randomized trials of vitamin pill effects on life and health has found that taking vitamin pills may shorten life (Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Issue 1, 2008). Other studies have shown that taking vitamin pills may increase risk for cancers and heart attacks.

This review of 232,000 adults showed that those taking beta-carotene, vitamin A, C, and E and selenium gained no benefit over those who took placebos or no pills. "The findings show that, if anything, people in trial groups given beta-carotene, vitamin A and vitamin E showed increased rates of mortality. There was no indication that vitamin C and selenium may have positive or negative effects."

The study was originally set up to see if antioxidant vitamin pills and minerals prevent gastrointestinal cancers. It found no protection whatever. Instead, an increased death rate of 16 percent was seen in those taking vitamin A pills, seven percent with beta- carotene, and seven percent with vitamin E. No increased death rate was seen in those taking vitamin C or selenium.
Link to the Cochrane Database

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Will I get stronger if I keep on lifting weights when my muscles are hurting?

When you want to become very strong, you try to lift very heavy weights. Weight lifters have known for a long time that you don't pick up the heaviest weight you can move, raise it once and then quit for the day. They do their weightlifting in sets. For example, they lift and lower a weight in three sets of ten or one set of six. If you exhaust your muscles by bench pressing a weight for three sets of ten, is there any benefit to try to do another set? Researchers from Australia showed that you gain nothing if you force extra lifts after your muscles are exhausted (Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, August 2007). This study should serve as a warning particularly to young lifters. Plan your workouts. When your muscles are tired or sore, don't try to keep on lifting through the soreness. After a hard workout, go easy for as many days as it takes for your muscles to feel fresh again.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: You recently said that caffeine increases endurance; isn't it addicting?

Yes, but dependence on caffeine lasts only for a few days. You are dependent on a chemical when you become sick from not being able to take it. When regular coffee drinkers are suddenly deprived of their morning fix, they may suffer from headaches, fatigue and depression and be unable to function at their usual level of efficiency.

Moderate use of coffee, tea or soft drinks with caffeine is not harmful to most people, but caffeine can make you shaky, raise blood pressure, cause irregular heart beats or interfere with sleep. If you have these symptoms and want to stop drinking caffeinated beverages, doctors recommend that you stop cold turkey at a time when you don't need to function at your best for a few days. The headaches, fatigue and depression should pass in a short time. Nobody should associate caffeine dependence or addiction, which is relatively harmless, with alcohol or nicotine dependence which have severe health consequences. Each year, misuse of alcohol causes more than 100,000 deaths in the United States and smoking causes more than 400,000 deaths.

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Recipe of the Week

Tabbouleh

You'll find lots of recipes and helpful tips in The Good Food Book - it's FREE

June 25th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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