Wetenschap - 1 januari 1970

Overdose of vitamins gives flu and colds the upper hand

Overdose of vitamins gives flu and colds the upper hand

Overdose of vitamins gives flu and colds the upper hand


Afraid of being ill, forced to stay in bed with a runny nose and red eyes?
If you believe the adverts in the local newspapers, taking extra vitamins
will protect you against any cold and flu viruses lurking. Sounds good, but
according to Wageningen PhD researcher Judith Graat it’s all just hot air.

Graat carried out experiments with about seven hundred healthy elderly
people. Her oldest ‘guinea pig’ was 95. Within that age group in the
Netherlands, two thousand people die each year from what doctors refer to
as ‘respiratory infections’, a collective name for flu and colds. Graat
wanted to determine whether vitamin supplements can help or not.

The researcher gave her subjects pills every day for fifteen months. Some
received a placebo, others a low-dose multivitamin pill or a vitamin E
capsule, and the last group a combination of both. The results were
disappointing to say the least. The people who received vitamin E stood
more chance of becoming ill than those who had not had vitamin E. This
group also remained ill for longer and had worse symptoms: they stayed in
bed more often, had fever more often and altogether more symptoms. It also
made no difference whether the vitamin E users also received the
multivitamins: they made no difference to the chances of becoming ill or
the length of the illness.

Ivonne Rietjens, Professor of toxicology at Wageningen University, has been
warning for years against high doses of vitamins and is not surprised by
Graat’s research results. “A substance which is healthy in small doses, can
be unhealthy when given in large doses,

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