Recently, a meta-analysis of 68 randomized trials concerning vitamin usage, showed an actual increased death rate amongst people that regularly used multi-vitamin supplements over those who did not use or only took vitamins occasionally.
A meta analysis is when researchers review the data from many earlier studies and find correlations or relationships not apparent to the authors of those earlier studies. In the case of this meta analysis, the researchers randomly selected 68 studies concerning vitamin usage. When they reviewed the data from those studies, they found a correlation between the amount (and frequency) of multi-vitamin supplementation a person took and the death rate of that population.
What the researchers found was a decrease in life expectancy in those who used vitamins on a daily or near daily basis. The researchers believed that the increase in death rates was attributable, in large part, to anti oxidative stress and hypervitaminosis.
NOTE: hypervitaminosis refers to the negative effects associated with overdosing vitamins, particularly the antioxidant rich vitamins.
More and more, nutritional supplements are including multiple sources of antioxidants within their ingredient lists. Antioxidants are known to have many functions which can be seen as helpful to overall health, in some cases antioxidants can help suppress certain pathogens and can be useful in eliminating excess free radicals (which can be damaging) from our bodies.
However, after evaluating the data from the above mentioned meta-analysis, scientist now believe that we have reached the "to much of a good thing" stage, in that excessive antioxidant usage is interfering with some essential defensive mechanisms like apoptosis, phagocytosis, and detoxification.
Not only that, but the effects of anti oxidative stress might be interfering with the uptake and utilization of iodine (an oxidant) throughout the body. It is a little known secret, just how important the iodine / thyroid relationship is to the overall health of a racing pigeon. The thyroid gland, contains 1100 times the concentration of iodine found in other parts of the body. The overall health of our birds depends upon this iodine reservoir in the thyroid for the synthesis of the thyroid hormone "thyroxin", which among other functions, regulates the rate of metabolism and affects protein synthesis.
In a earlier newsletter, I wrote about how the manufacturers of many racing pigeon products purposely buffer their products with an acidic base (low pH) and how this is changing the environment within our birds and setting the stage for health problems from yeast and fungal infections. Now we find that consistently presenting excess amounts of anitoxidants to our birds, may also harm their health, instead of benefiting their health.
So now you are probably "asking are not antioxidants good for us?" More than likely they are good for us and several antioxidant ingredients have been shown to possess excellent health benefits such as the antioxidants in red wine or in grape seed extract (GSE) or grapefruit seed extract (GFSE), etc. The point of the study was that "Less is More" (where have we heard that before?). There are now so many antioxidants in our diets and in the supplements we take, that we are now seeing their adverse effects on our health.
Let me remind you that most all vita-mineral supplements contain large doses of beta carotene, vitamins A, C, E, selenium, copper, zinc, and iron all of which are antioxidants. Of these, synthetic sources of beta carotene, vitamins A and E, seem to be the biggest contributors. In addition to the above listed vita-minerals, we find that, more and more, antioxidants are being added to the diets of our birds, through the supplements we purchase, because the manufacturers of these products believe there are potential health benefits from these antioxidant sources.
Unfortunately, up until now, there has been no discussion within our sport of how the cumulative effect of all these supplements may well diminish (as opposed to enhance) the overall health of our birds.
Let us not forget the "all natural" sources of antioxidants found in fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, that our bird's receive in their normal diets. These "all natural" sources are the safest and best sources for supplying the correct proportions of antioxidants in their diets.
In the end, we racing pigeon fanciers are adding more and more supplements to the diets of our birds only to find that our intentions of helping our birds may well result in side effects of which we were uninformed. This is just another classic case of "to much of a good thing", ending up being a bad thing.
Let me repeat, what I said at the end of my article "When Less is More":
There are many products on the market today that promise health or superior performance. Unfortunately, these products often overlap each other in the supplementation they provide. Fanciers who practice the "More must be better" theory, often "inadvertently" interfere with the overall peak performance and health of their birds.
Simplicity is best and the fancier that finds simplicity in their health routine will, often times do so, by learning that "Less is More".