Having been a biohacker since 2000, I’ve been open to modifying my biochemistry to enhance my performance. Supplements have been a part of this.
However, there have been dozens of studies over the last several years that should make us critical of the sale pitch that sells us supplements for health, anti-aging, and longevity.
I like data, facts, and real studies… not the crappy couple-of-people and agenda-based “studies”… or better yet, completely fake studies. Yes, there are “journals” out there that will help you publish absolutely anything. And don’t be fooled by “experts” claiming they do their own research… they cherry pick too. You, dear reader, need to be critical. We’d all like the Easy Button for health, aging, diet, energy, but these studies help us see that supplements may do more harm than good.
Here are a few studies published in respected journals:
- Multi-vitamins can increase mortality, specifically cancer, https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/1105975
- Vitamin E and prostate cancer, https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/1104493
- Vitamin C doesn’t reduce the common cold, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23440782/
It pains me to think that supplements, as we know them today, cannot assist us in managing our health and well-being. Or worse, they may contribute to it.
Don’t take this as a singular philosophy or position. There are studies that do show how very specific supplementation does assist in solving a health-based issue. The gist of this article is that we need to be critical in our intake of information, and understand that although knowledge continues to grow, we must continue to expect a significant degree of fact and data from our experts.
“Although it’s clear that free radicals can damage DNA and disrupt cell membranes, that’s not always a bad thing. People need free radicals to kill bacteria and eliminate new cancer cells. But when people take large doses of antioxidants, the balance between free radical production and destruction might tip too much in one direction, causing an unnatural state in which the immune system is less able to kill harmful invaders. Researchers have called this “the antioxidant paradox.” Whatever the reason, the data are clear: high doses of vitamins and supplements increase the risk of heart disease and cancer; for this reason, not a single national or international organization responsible for the public’s health recommends them.” ~ The Atlantic article (with several cited sources)
This is fascinating science and something all scientists know… when we screw with things we often don’t fully know the long-term effect, especially since evolution plays into it and we don’t understand how evolutionary aspects of DNA expression play out.
- Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta Carotene Cancer Prevention Study Group. The effect of vitamin E and beta carotene on the incidence of lung cancer and other cancers in male smokers. N Engl J Med. 1994 Apr 14;330(15):1029-35.
It was tough going through the Atlantic article and finding all the referenced studies. However, for all but one I found them. I can’t say that for most of the articles I read… and if they do cite their source, it’s often another blog/article, or a crap study with questionable science.
I encourage you to read these studies for yourself and choose a critical thought path. I don’t think the science is concluded, as there are many influencers not yet factored in. My current thought process is around DNA and its expression. What does our DNA do when subjected to both internal and external stimulants? Is it the same with every human? How can we know that once we influence one factor, we don’t affect another? Too many unknowns for me. We are screwing with evolution too, and to what extent?
I will be stopping many of my supplements, and all of my antioxidant supplements. My mother, who died a month ago, was an avid health “nut” and followed many new studies on supplements. When she was first diagnosed with cancer she followed both the medical path and the “alternative medicine” path. It obviously didn’t work for her. We don’t know if her supplements negatively impacted her state, but that’s what biohacking is all about… trial and error, and more trials.
For those who follow my supplements, I will continue taking the following:
- Biotin (I’m testing this)
- Rutin (I’m testing this)
- Micro-mineral supplement (I’m testing this)
- Qualia (various clinical effect, nootropic)
- Tumeric (little to no clinical effect per current studies)
I’ll report back in 90 days whether I notice a difference (anecdotal evidence). Until then, I’ll be saving a ton of money 😉 By all means, if you have a medical deficiency and have been prescribed a supplement, take it. Don’t take this article, or ANY article, as medical advice. Use it to further your curious mind and help educate you to make better decisions by asking more informed questions.