When is a study not a study?

Give up? When it’s an editorial based on a mish-mash of three cherry-picked studies, with a lead author who’s done none of the actual research himself.

You’ve no doubt seen the excited flurry of headlines that hit right prior to the holidays. In huge screaming fonts they deemed multivitamins and minerals “useless,” “a waste of money” and even, possibly “harmful.”

And of course the mainstream media just LOVES a controversy, so they jumped on this one with both feet.

There’s just one problem, there’s actually no controversy to begin with. (Okay, there are actually MANY problems… but let’s just start with this one).

Who in the world would ever make the claim that by popping a single multivitamin it’s guaranteed that you’ll never experience cognitive decline, heart disease, cancer or really any chronic disease at all? No legitimate doctor, nutritionist, or researcher… regardless if they’re holistically-minded or not… would ever make such an outlandish claim.

In fact, the only people I can even think of that would propose that you can simply pop a pill and be guaranteed to stay disease free are drug company execs—and the marketers that work for them, of course.

Yes, what we have here is the very definition of a non-controversy.

The brain surprise that wasn’t

Now let’s get back to those studies on vitamins and minerals that the lead editorial writer didn’t have a blessed thing to do with. No, instead, he swooped in to ride some apparently irresistible coattails when the Annals of Internal Medicine kindly covered three studies in a single issue that found that the vitamins they used didn’t prevent certain diseases.

The first study found that taking a multivitamin didn’t prevent cognitive decline in men. Yeah, that’s it. To which I reply, “Uh, no, duh.”

While a good multi can certainly help top off some of the vitamins and minerals that are missing in your diet, who in their right mind would ever think it was some kind of magic bullet that gives you an invincible brain? If only good health were that simple.

However, along with a healthy (organic when you can) diet, avoiding nasty chemicals and toxins, and getting up and moving, nutrients (including vitamins, minerals, and herbs) can absolutely play a critical role in your brain health. And any so-called “expert” who tells you different is just blowing hot air.

B’s are good for your brain

As I’ve told you many times before, B vitamins could be your brain’s best friend. In fact, earlier this year a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences confirmed that high dose B vitamins may be able to stop Alzheimer’s disease in its tracks.

You can up some of your B’s by eating certain foods like shellfish and spinach—and I encourage you to do just that—but, realistically you’re not likely to get enough to make a sizable dent in your Alzheimer’s risk. For that, a supplement might be your best bet.

And the way those B vitamins accomplish this cognition-preserving feat has nothing to do with a magic bullet. B’s naturally fight the homocysteine build up in your body that leads to brain shrinkage and atrophy as you age. In fact, Oxford researchers found that B vitamins can slash your homocysteine levels up to an incredible 50 percent!

And just a couple of weeks ago I explained how the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil could drive down your risk of common brain lesions that lead to cognitive decline. (If you missed that issue, catch up by clicking here to read it on the NorthStar Blog).

Closing the case on nutrient bashing

The second study mentioned in the editorial was actually just a review of material from earlier studies, not new research. The authors said that, according to the data they looked at, vitamin and mineral supplements don’t prevent heart disease or cancer. At the risk of repeating myself my response is, once again, “Duh.”

Taking an isolated vitamin or mineral will NEVER be a guarantee that you won’t get a chronic disease. Nutrients can only help reduce your risk by filling in holes in your diet—and combined with a healthy lifestyle they can help you stay healthy… no magic bullets needed.

Besides, there’s a stack of studies showing how certain supplements may indeed reduce your risk of heart disease or cancer. For example, there’s the study that showed how omega-3’s are linked to a lower risk of heart disease, the one that linked nickel and selenium to lower cancer risk, and the two studies showing that resveratrol can help fight both heart problems and cancer, to name just a few.

Heck, I could fill up an entire website with evidence of the important role vitamins minerals, and herbs can play in our health—and, in fact, I have. My advice is to ignore this ridiculous vendetta against vitamins and nutrients and visit my NorthStar Blog for the real scoop, instead.