Based on the recent headlines, you'd think swallowing a vitamin is almost as bad as swallowing razorblades.
Common, safe nutrients and ordinary multivitamins are being blamed for everything in the book -- and now, a new study claims any number of vitamins will cause women to die early.
But don't panic, ladies -- because like the other studies that claim vitamins come with risks, this one's not even worth the paper it's printed on.
First, the details meant to impress and frighten you at the same time: A study of some 39,000 women tracked for 19 years finds that those who took multivitamins, vitamin B6, folic acid, iron, magnesium, zinc, and/or copper had an ever-so-slightly higher risk of death from any cause than women who took no vitamins at all.
But here are some details that aren't as prominent in the over-the-top coverage of this vitamin panic: The women were asked about their vitamin habits just three times in that 19-year period.
No one was actually given vitamins or placebos... no one's habits were actually monitored... no one gave blood and the researchers don't even know much about the overall health of the individual women in the study beyond what they reported in those surveys.
At best, you've got the weakest of all weak associations you could possibly make from an observational study -- but it's actually even worse than that.
Much worse -- because an analysis by the Alliance for Natural Health finds that the supposed increase in death risk only appeared after some statistical "adjustments" that look to me more like statistical torture.
For example, women who had a healthy lifestyle and took vitamin C lived longer -- but for that, the credit went to the healthy lifestyle.
There was a similar adjustment for "healthy eating" despite the fact that only two of the three surveys -- spaced 18 years apart -- even asked about food.
"(T)he authors just manipulated the data until they got what they wanted and more: Supplements not only didn't help--they were killers!" the ANH wrote in its analysis. "And the lazy, biased, or naïve major media took it from there."
You can get the "rest of the story" right here.
Here's the bottom line on vitamins: Over the past 27 years, there have been exactly 11 deaths blamed on vitamin overdose. Medications, on the other hand, killed more than 37,000 Americans in 2009 alone -- making legal drugs the nation's leading cause of accidental death.
You tell me which is safer.