What are vitamin megadoses

Beware of vitamin megadoses

Pharmacon Meran 2002

What is it about orthomolecular medicine and anti aging? Professor Dr. Hans Konrad Biesalski from the Institute for Biological Chemistry and Nutritional Science at the University of Hohenheim drew a brief conclusion: "Little" is scientifically proven. "Genes, healthy eating, exercise, lifestyle, serenity, optimism and maybe also antioxidants" could help to experience old age in a beautiful and healthy way.

The concept of orthomolecular medicine assumes that an oversupply of essential micronutrients and vitamins can "harmonize" the cell metabolism and thus the entire organism. The theory that an imbalance between pro- and antioxidant factors drives the aging process is an important reason for using high doses of antioxidant vitamins. "Scientifically proven, the use is only to remedy a proven deficiency", the speaker clarified. "Anti aging is nonsense, it doesn't exist." It is dubious when anti-aging medicine promises a fountain of youth.

The most important endogenous antioxidant is uric acid; Biesalski named vitamin E, carotenoids and ubiquinone as the most important exogenous substances. Humans get antioxidants relatively quickly through diet. Vitamin E should only be taken in combination with vitamin C, the scientist recommended. The reason: tocopherol intercepts radicals in the cell membrane and thus slows down lipid oxidation. In turn, it is reduced by vitamin C, which creates the very inert vitamin C radical.

This radical as an intermediate end product is a marker for lipid oxidation, not generally for oxidative stress. Biesalski cleared up another mistake: the antioxidant status in the plasma is not very meaningful for the concentrations in cells - the actual site of action. In his own studies, he was able to show that the beta-carotene and tocopherol levels in buccal cells were significantly lower than in plasma.

A diet rich in antioxidants reduces the risk of degenerative diseases. The situation looks worse for supplements: intervention studies have shown no effect, said the speaker. An effect on risk groups such as smokers has only been seen in small studies. In large studies such as the ATBC or CARET study, the lung cancer or mortality rate in the beta carotene / vitamin C or vitamin A group has even increased. In the ferret, the combination of beta-carotene and smoking reduced retinoic acid receptor (RAR) -b activity; RAR-b knock-out mice are known to develop lung cancer rapidly. The speaker warned that caution should be exercised in the intake of a maximum of 10 mg of beta-carotene daily through food.

In the CHAOS study, participants received 800 or 400 international units of a-tocopherol. Although this reduced the number of non-fatal heart attacks and major coronary events, mortality remained unchanged and even increased in the first three months. Biesalski advised taking vitamin E slowly, as it modulates platelet adherence and blood clotting. Side effects are also conceivable with vitamin C, since it uses the same types of GLUT receptors for entry into the cell as glucose. This should be kept in mind when giving high doses of vitamin C to diabetics.

Orthomolecular medicine preparations are often used in conjunction with cancer therapy. However, chemotherapy and radiation therapy work mainly through the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which may be intercepted by the antioxidant cocktail. Although vitamin E can reduce the side effects of doxorubicin therapy, the interactions are unclear.

Biesalski summed up: Anti aging is a question of lifestyle and genes. It is questionable whether orthomolecular medicine can compensate for an unhealthy lifestyle. Whether it will make a difference despite a healthy lifestyle is an open question. Effects and side effects of vitamin supplements would only become apparent after many years; therefore, 2- and 5-year studies are irrelevant. For primary prophylaxis, he considers a maximum of 100 mg of vitamin E plus 500 mg of vitamin C to be "adequate". Betacaroten can be used for interval therapy in polymorphic photodermatosis if the dermatologist has determined this indication.

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