FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Trashing Vitamins with Garbage Articles
Commentary by Travis V. Meyer
(OMNS Sept 3, 2013) Recently, while browsing the news, I found yet another article trashing vitamins: “Stop swallowing vitamins and the claims about their effects, doctors urge.” (http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2013/08/13/daily-circuit-vitamins-health)
I found this article interesting due to some of the outrageous statements made in the article by a Dr. Paul Offit and Dr. Donald Hensrud. I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m not in the health industry, nor do I have any advanced degrees in health sciences (my masters is in business administration, not healthcare). Still, some of these claims are so outrageous you wonder how they can print this stuff with a good conscience.
Here are just some quotes from the article that had me shaking my head, along with my own layman’s opinion regarding such statements:
“Vitamin pills are not merely of uncertain benefit. In some cases, and especially in large doses, they are downright dangerous.”
This is a very charged statement, as it is asserting that you are potentially risking your life by talking supplements in large doses. However, where is the evidence supporting claims that vitamins in large doses are “downright dangerous”? I have read articles that exalt the values of mega-dose vitamin therapy, and all of them have had one thing in common: references to the scientific research backing up their position. If the article is to be believed, it should specify which vitamins are so “dangerous” and precisely what that means, with abundant supporting citations.
Analysis of US poison control center annual report data indicates that there have been no confirmed deaths from vitamins in the 28 years that such data has been available. (http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v07n05.shtml)
How about this statement:
“Megavitamins contain many times greater than the recommended daily allowance. Five times, 10 times, sometimes 20 times more. And I think therein danger lies. There are a number of studies showing that you can actually get too much of a good thing, that this can actually increase your risk of cancer and heart disease. I think most people don’t know that.”
I have to admit that this was surprising to me. In fact, I’ve never seen even one reliable study showing that taking vitamins in any dose can increase my risk of cancer and heart disease. Again, I’d love to see this great number of studies. Logic dictates if vitamins were that dangerous, and had a number of studies supporting this claim, that this news would have been put out long ago, especially since big pharma would be popping champagne and sending their propaganda officers into overtime if such news came out. Not to mention the safety alerts and probable market withdrawals of said vitamins. And that brings me to another point. Many prescription drugs can be hazardous to health, and several big money makers have had to be withdrawn because of dangerous side effects. Compared to drugs, vitamins look pretty safe to me.
“Even a multivitamin might be a little bit too much. . . If you’re taking just one nutrient, it may be throwing off the balance of the overall milieu.”
Really? I’ll tell you what has thrown my milieu out of balance: taking just one antibiotic. My milieu was so out of balance that I was stuck in the bathroom every 30 minutes. If taking one vitamin, say extra vitamin C, may be throwing off nutritional balance, I want proof, not assumptions or speculation.
Antibiotics put over 142,000 into emergency rooms every year, just in the USA. Common antibiotics, the ones most frequently prescribed and regarded as safest, cause nearly half of these emergencies. (http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/47/6/735.long)
That supposedly reliable news sources publish such throw-away articles just blows my mind. How can you make such speculative claims without any facts to back up such statements? These are supposed to be scientists who base their statements on facts and research, not charlatans who speculate on what may or may not shift your “milieu” out of sorts.
Which brings us to the statements that rankles me the most about this article:
“Offit argued in a recent opinion article in the New York Times that “people need only the recommended daily allowance – the amount of vitamins found in a routine diet.”
That depends on both how you quantify need, and how you quantify what makes up a routine diet. I suppose if you don’t want to develop scurvy, all you need is the RDA. But is that really the point? I don’t want to get sick, I don’t want to get cancer, and I don’t want to need antibiotics, so perhaps I need a bit more than the RDA. How do we know that the processed foods we’ve been purchasing for the last 50 years are all that nutritious? In fact, hasn’t there been much ado about how our routine diet of processed foods is making us obese and ill?
You don’t need a medical degree to cock your head and say, “Wait a minute, something smells fishy here, and it’s not my Omega 3 pills.” I’d like to close with this: my wife and son have significantly reduced their terrible allergies by taking large doses of vitamin C daily. Also, my son seems to have increased his focus after starting on niacin supplements. All this, and no sign of cancer or heart disease.
(Travis Meyer describes himself as “an average Joe who came upon orthomolecular approaches to health when mainstream medicine failed to help him with a case of prostatitis. After researching and reading up on the subject, he was able to cure himself and became an advocate for better, safer, more cost effective and open-minded approaches to health and medicine.”)
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