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Vitamins' Usefulness

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After the most recent national news story regarding the effectiveness of taking vitamin supplements, I felt a little enraged. I would like to clear up some facts with regard to that story to anyone who has ever questioned this topic before.

• The “traditional” medical and pharmaceutical industry has always been stonewalled regarding anything natural in the way of vitamins, supplements and herbs. The main reason is the lack of medical school training of the average physician in these areas as well as the huge money-making empire that has become our country’s pharmaceutical system.

• If everyone was preventing disease and sickness using natural means of supplements and herbs, the pharma industry would not be as busy or making as much money, right? The government lobbying and other “powers that be” in the pharma industry are so strong, that even scientists or doctors who believe they could prevent or cure cancer in a more “natural” way, are found out about and completely shut down. After all, if there were some chance we did not have to use a $500.00/per pill drug to fight cancer, then where would they be???

An interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN with Dr. Travis Stork and Dr. Sanjay Gupta argued that taking multi vitamins are probably somewhat useless and that the use of other types of supplements which are not regulated by the FDA could even be dangerous, if taken incorrectly or without actually needing it. They also contend that eating a healthy balanced diet is the best way to maintain good health without the need of supplements unless you are suffering from a particular physical ailment in which your physician has recommended a supplement for that problem.
The Linus Pauling Institute said this regarding all the ridiculous “hoopla”, and I agree:

  • "While a well-balanced diet is the best way to get all of one’s essential nutrients, the reality is that Americans don’t get enough of them through diet alone. From the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) we know that the large majority of the US population is not “well-nourished” and falls short of getting all of their vitamins and minerals from their diet in levels recommended by the Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board. For example, more than 93% of US adults 19 years and older do not meet dietary intake recommendations (called Estimated Average Requirement, or EAR) of vitamins D and E, 61% for magnesium, about 50% for vitamin A and calcium, and 43% for vitamin C. Other studies have shown that people who take a daily multivitamin/mineral (MVM) supplement with the recommended doses of most vitamins and minerals can fill most of these nutritional gaps safely and at very low cost – a year’s supply of a high-quality MVM can be purchased for less than a nickel a day".
  • In contrast, only a very small, non-significant fraction (0.1%) of US adults exceeds the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) from diet and supplements combined for vitamin E (2), putting Guallar et al.’s claim that “vitamin E … supplements increase mortality” in perspective. Contrary to the impression that the authors give in their editorial (1), the US population is inadequate in many vitamins and minerals, a result of the energy-dense and nutrient-poor dietary pattern of Western populations, rather than over-consuming MVM and other dietary supplements.
  • The known biological functions of vitamins and nutritionally-essential minerals are to maintain normal cell function, metabolism, growth and development, through their roles as essential cofactors in hundreds of enzyme reactions and other biological processes – not to prevent or treat chronic disease. Nevertheless, the largest and longest randomized controlled trial (RCT) of MVM supplements conducted to date, the Physicians’ Health Study II (PHS II), found a significant 8% reduction in total and epithelial cell cancer incidence in male physicians, and a 12% reduction in total cancer incidence excluding prostate cancer. The PHS II also found a significant 9% reduction in the incidence of total cataract. These findings of PHS II are consistent with those of several other RCTs and are even more impressive given the fact that the conventional RCT design is strongly biased against showing benefits of essential nutrients, in contrast to pharmaceutical drugs.
  • Therefore, taking a daily MVM supplement will not only help fill the known nutritional gaps in the average American diet, thereby assuring normal biological function and metabolism and supporting good health, but may also have the added benefit of reducing cancer and cataract risk – which no existing pharmaceutical drug can do. To call “the case … closed” and label MVM supplements as useless, harmful or wasteful is highly premature and unscientific, and does not serve public health”.

My advice is realize we live in a very unhealthy environment when it comes to pesticides on fruits, vegetables and grains – more so than in other countries. So, of course that will wreak havoc on our organs. Take common sense approaches, reading food labels and being aware of genetically modified food products as well. Take supplements that your body needs and if you don’t know what they should be, consult a natural health professional/nutritionist/holistic doctor.

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