Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ask Dr. Murph Part II

{cute medical image via}

Happy Friday! I am excited to share the second part of the post that I started yesterday in the Ask Dr. Murph series!

As a reminder, my sorority sister/doctor friend (her nickname is Dr. Murph) has agreed to let me publish her answers to my many random health-related questions. Since I take a bunch of vitamins I was curious if I was on the right track or way off base. The first four are in yesterday's post, and please read below for the remaining answers!

Real quick, though, please read her Disclaimer and Vitamin Definitions.

DISCLAIMER- I have an M.D but I am far from an expert! The following is what I have synthesized from med school and residency lectures, attending mentors, textbooks, and journal articles. Many doctors have differing opinions on vitamins because there can be an overwhelming amount of unfortunately small studies that show opposing results. To me, this seems to be the case with anything that enters the arena of "complementary or alternative medicine." I will try to differentiate what is accepted as medical fact and when I venture off into opinion. If other health care people read these answers, I'm sure plenty of people will disagree with me. (I think I could fight with Dr. Oz for a week straight about almost all of his opinions!) Overall, I tend be on the skeptical side - As one of my favorite attendings taught me - Read the study and Ask yourself, What does this author WANT to be true?

Vitamin Definitions:
  • Fat-soluble vitamins - surplus stored in the liver, extremely high doses can cause toxicity - A, D, E, & K
  • Water-soluble vitamins - not stored in the body, kidney simply excretes the extra - such as B vitamins and vitamin C, and others.
On to the questions!

5) I heard that Vitamin E is good for my skin, so I take it every day. Right or wrong?

I'll just give you some opinions for this one - Besides important biochemical functions in the body, Vitamin E is another antioxidant that can actually be delivered by your body to the skin via the sebaceous glands. In my opinion it seems like Vitamin E could help based soley on that mechanism of action. Anecdotally, the plastic surgeons and dermatologists that I have worked with seem to frequently recommend topical formulations containing vitamin E.

7) I heard Fish Oil helps you lose weight. True or False?

Fish Oil is another one that somehow seems to cure everything! The important part, as you probably know, is the omega-3 fatty acid, specifically DHA or EPA (ALA does not seem to help) which is an essential molecule that your body cannot synthesize. I remember the craze started with trials showing benefit in the area of cardiac and stroke risk and I would highly recommend fish oil for those patients. (Sidenote: extreme high doses can increase bleeding risk). After that, there seems to be a lot of money and time spent on possible benefits with immune function, weight loss, cancer, and neurologic disease, and there is less consenus. However, my personal opinion in reading some of the stuff is that at least they have proposed mechanisms of action for how extra omega-3 fatty acids can have those health benefits. I am also slightly biased because I buy it and take it myself so I have to rationalize the cost, I suppose! One more note in my area of expertise - Recently there was a surge of these products as prenatal vitamins because some study showed DHA prenatally helped the baby's future IQ and brain function but that has since been debunked! Sorry babies.

7) OK so a quick recap: I take Vitamin D, Calcium, Vitamin B Complex, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E. Are these good vitamins for me to take? Aside from adding Fish Oil and probably deleting Vitamin D, what else should I add/delete?

The OB/GYN in me wants to say: If you are of childbearing age then make sure your multivitamin has folic acid in it.

8) I heard that taking a Cinnamon vitamin (saw it at CVS!) helps you lose weight. True or False?

I think Dr. Oz says true but I say false :)

9) Finally, I am participating in Weight Watchers and P90X. Should I take any supplements for better results? The jacked up dude from GNC talked me into getting a giant tub of 100% Whey Protein to take after my workouts. It was a ridiculous encounter considering I had sported curls, pearls, and a dress when I went into the store. I kind of feel silly with that monstrous tub in my kitchen.

Hahahah, this story makes me laugh. Love you Mary :) I guess you'll be the experiment to see if you get just as jacked after taking the supplement!


That's all for now! Do you have any follow-up questions or any other health-related questions for Dr. Murph? Let me know! Have a great weekend!

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