Supplements and Safety - Why Your Supplement May Damage Your Health (L-Arginine)
Something to bare in mind when considering supplements:
If you’re thinking of taking, or are taking, high doses of L-Arginine, L-glutamine, Lecithin, Yohimbe or any other PE or performance-related dietary supplement it’s good to be aware that high dosage vitamins of any kind can potentially damage your health…
It was recently discovered that the amount of vitamin A present in a balanced diet is enough to cause osteoporosis and double the risk of hip-fracture, yet many of us are still taking huge doses of vitamin A as part of our daily vitamin supplement.
It’s also been found that a diet high in naturally-occurring beta-carotene will reduce risk of lung cancer amongst smokers, but the same beta-carotene taken as a high-dosage pill has been found to actually increase instances of lung cancer among smokers by over 28% (the exact percentage isn’t known due to the study having been discontinued).
These are well-known, widely-used, ‘household-name’ vitamins which millions of us have known about, have been taking in large amounts for years, and are continuing to take, and which have serious negative effects that were discovered more or less by accident, for instance:
The findings regarding beta-carotene and lung cancer were the result of tests conducted amongst smokers to demonstrate beta-carotene’s effectiveness in reducing risk of cancer, but when the naturally occurring beta-carotene was replaced with a high-dose beta-carotene pill the tests yeilded almost the exact opposite result…
The data regarding Vitamin A and osteoporosis originated in Sweden following a Swedish scientist’s efforts to discover why Sweden had the world’s highest rates of Osteoporosis…it turns out that Sweden is the only European country that fortifies its low-fat dairy products with vitamin A for the health of the population.
The point is, these high-strength pills are relatively new and we don’t really know how they’re affecting us because it’s impossible to conduct clinical trials for every foreseeable or unforeseeable eventuality…whatsmore, these ‘unexpected and dangerous consequences’ were only stumbled upon due to the scale of the problem and the huge number of people exhibiting symptoms, and in light of that fact it seems impossible to guarantee the safety of relatively little-used substances like L-Arginine, L-glutamine, Tribulus etc.
"…because of these studies, in 2003 safety experts in the UK […] advised everyone to limit their daily intake from high dose pills. These studies were a salutary lesson that vitamin supplements were not just some harmless natural remedy. In high doses they could have unexpected and dangerous consequences."
BBC - Science & Nature - Horizon
So when it comes to dietary supplements, even with the most well-known and trusted vitamins it seems it’s a crap shoot- something to bear in mind the next time you find yourself swallowing 30g of L-Arginine for the daddy of all hard-ons.
The following is from: BBC - Science & Nature - Horizon
…NARRATOR: […] Sweden is a prosperous country, where people live long and healthy lives. But surprisingly it has one of the world’s highest rates of a debilitating disease, osteoporosis. It most often affects women over fifty. And its crippling condition gradually thins and weakens your bones, increasing the risk of fracture. But for years it has been a mystery why the disease is so common.
PROFESSOR MELHUS: When we look at known risk factors for osteoporosis, such as age, smoking, physical activity, they can partly explain why it’s so common with osteoporosis and bone fractures in Sweden, but that can not explain everything. And then, even more surprising, is that we have a diet rich in calcium, which should protect our bones.
NARRATOR: So Professor Melhus began to look for another explanation. And there was something in particular about the Swedish diet that made him suspicious. It was exceptionally high in vitamin A.
PROFESSOR MELHUS: We eat dairy products, oily fish, such as herring and salmon, we consume cod liver oil, vitamin supplements, all which contain high levels of vitamin A, and on top of that we are the only European country which fortifies low fat dairy products with vitamin A.
NARRATOR: This triggered an alarm for Professor Melhus. Because there was evidence that huge doses of vitamin A damaged animal bones.
NARRATOR: Professor Melhus then went further. He did a series of bone scans to work out what level of vitamin A was linked to weaker bones. His results suggested that long term consumption of even relatively small quantities of vitamin A were having a dramatic effect.
PROFESSOR MELHUS: What we saw was that a vitamin intake above 1.5 milligrams per day, which is approximately twice the recommended daily intake, there was a reduction in bone density about ten per cent, and the risk of hip fracture had doubled.
NARRATOR: If Professor Melhus was right then the implications were staggering. An intake of 1.5 milligrams per day is a level that can be reached from food alone. And it will be exceeded by taking just a single capsule of some high strength vitamin A supplements. So, tablets that people take every day to improve their health might actually be slowly, silently, weakening their bones. For Professor Melhus, the implication is clear.
PROFESSOR MELHUS: Based on our research I think people should continue to eat a healthy, normal balanced diet. But since supplements containing high levels of vitamin A may have adverse effects, I cannot recommend people to take them routinely.
The following is from: BBC - Science & Nature - Horizon
…NARRATOR: […] In vegetables there is a chemical called beta-carotene, which your body converts in to vitamin A. It is found in carrots and leafy green vegetables. And it’s seen to have an extraordinary health benefit. Studies have shown that people who eat a diet rich in beta-carotene are much less likely to develop lung cancer. And this seemed to offer a genuine breakthrough. Demetrius Albanes is one of the leading cancer experts in America. He hoped that beta-carotene pills could be a simple way to fight one of our biggest killers. So he and his colleagues organised a study to confirm that high dose pills really could save millions of lives.
DEMETRIUS ALBANES: We were thoroughly expecting to see a reduction in lung cancer incidents. We designed the study actually to be able to detect at least a twenty five per cent reduction and I would say many of us at the time would have estimated we might observe a twenty five to fifty per cent reduction in lung cancer.
NARRATOR: Fifteen thousand people were given high dose beta-carotene pills, each one containing the equivalent of six carrots. To have the best chance of seeing whether the pills really could prevent lung cancer, they were given to people most likely to develop it, smokers. For eight years a team of safety experts monitored the volunteer’s health. And it seemed that everything was progressing normally. But then, just before the trial was due to end, they called a surprise meeting.
DEMETRIUS ALBANES: The key investigators were called in to the committee, and they informed us that we had some effect happening with respect to the beta-carotene. They informed us that we in fact had a small increase in lung cancer in the beta-carotene group.
NARRATOR: It seemed that beta-carotene pills, which every one had hoped would prevent lung cancer, were having the exact opposite effect.
PROFESSOR FRANK KELLY: I think there was a mass panic to begin with because this is really the way we expected the science to work.
NARRATOR: It was a devastating result. The people taking the pill had shown an eighteen per cent increase in lung cancer.
PROF JEFFREY BLUMBERG: My first response on hearing these results was being stunned and not really believing it. I thought the results were a fluke.
NARRATOR: But it was no fluke, eighteen months later the news about beta-carotene got even worse. Another similar study was stopped two years early.
CONTRIBUTOR: An interim analysis showed that there was a twenty eight per cent increase in the number of lung cancers in those taking the intervention.
NARRATOR: Scientists still do not fully understand why beta-carotene appears so beneficial in food but seemed to have such a devastating effect on smokers when taken in a high dose pill. But because of these studies, in 2003 safety experts in the UK advise smokers not to take beta-carotene supplements. And advised everyone to limit their daily intake from high dose pills. These studies were a salutary lesson that vitamin supplements were not just some harmless natural remedy. In high doses they could
Last edited by Beaver Eager : 07-03-2005 at .