Saturday, October 22, 2011

Do This, Not That!

Ugh! Another research study!

Turn on the TV or flip a page in your favorite magazine and BAM!, another headline regarding "older" women and supplementation. Research shows (famous last words) that a study, which began in 1986 on women of about 62 years old "who took multivitamins, folic acid, vitamin B6, iron, copper, magnesium, and zinc supplements were more likely to die than women who did not take supplements even though they had healthier habits and lifestyles than women who did not supplement their diet with extra vitamins and minerals" -Iowa Women's Health Study. I also was informed of this study through Nightly News with Brian Williams, and of course- a few of my female clients.

Now I'm not going to criticize the study or make comments about it. I am, however, going to use it as an example of how to read research studies. My experience comes from analyzing, as well as conducting, research studies in Sports Medicine school.

When reading a research study, one must look at the population size to which the study was conducted. In this particular study of 20 years, 39,000 women participated in Finland. About 15,000 women died before the study was completed in 2004. Already, the study is almost 7 years old. In contrast, the GLOBAL population in 2009 for people 60 years and older was 680 million ( In addition, I found no follow-up research to this study, meaning, the study and it's findings have not been repeated or reported.

Do you catch my drift? I do believe though, that PEOPLE in general take supplements at times when they don't need to. This is an issue with the latest fads, marketing schemes, and self-diagnosing problems. So when reading about a new study regarding cholesterol, weight loss, or even supplements, please don't read into it too much. Ask yourself- Does it really apply to you? AND How valid is the research?

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