Eat Apples, Not Capsules

Forget the multivitamins and supplements.

But do remember to buy apples and eat at least one every day, especially if you’re over 50.

That’s the surprisingly strong message in recent weeks from researchers and respected medical journals.

“Stop wasting money on vitamin and mineral supplements,” advises an editorial in Annals of Internal Medicine, in no uncertain terms.

“Most supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death, their use is not justified, and they should be avoided.”

A study of male physicians aged 65 years or older found that long-term use of a daily multivitamin did not provide cognitive benefits.

The scientists also maintain that most supplement users in Canada and other developed countries show no evidence of vitamin deficiencies and don’t need supplements, which may be doing more harm than good.

High doses of such vitamins as Vitamin E and beta carotene could be harmful, they warn, while B vitamins and folic acid are harmful or ineffective in preventing chronic disease.

There’s also a significant risk of mislabeling and contamination with supplements, which are unregulated.

Recently, University of Guelph researchers tested 44 herbal products from 12 companies, all available in Canada.

They found that more than half the products contained ingredients not listed on the label, while cheaper ingredients, contaminants and fillers were often substituted for quality ingredients.

Contamination and substitution can pose considerable health risks for consumers, warned the researchers.

For example, a product labelled as St. John’s wort was substituted with an herbal laxative that can cause chronic diarrhea and liver damage with prolonged use.

Researchers suggest jettisoning the pills and capsules and supplementing instead with Mother Nature in the form of vegetables and fruits.

Apples, especially.

Prescribing an apple a day to all adults aged 50 and over would prevent or delay around 8,500 vascular deaths, such as heart attacks and strokes every year in Britain – similar to giving statins to everyone over 50 years who is not already taking them – according to The British Medical Journal.

As well, research suggests that statins can reduce the risk of vascular events irrespective of a person’s underlying risk of cardiovascular disease.

“As such, calls are being made for greater use of statins particularly for people aged 50 years and over.”

However, side-effects from statins mean that prescribing statins to everyone over the age of 50 is predicted to lead to over 1,000 extra cases of muscle disease (myopathy) and over 10,000 extra diagnoses of diabetes.

Fortunately, apples are almost as effective as statins and they taste good, too.