Tuesday, March 3, 2009

New Vitamin Research on B12 and Vitamin D

I have shown scientific data numerous times on EverythingHealth that shows our obsession with vitamins and supplements taken daily as cancer or cardiovascular disease prevention is money down the drain.

There are certain conditions, however, where good data shows us certain vitamins play a beneficial role. Here are two new studies:

Recurrent aphthous stomatitis (also known as mouth canker sores) is a painful and unexplained condition. Some patients have outbreak after outbreak and we use adhesive pastes, antiseptics and steroids to deal with the pain. A new study shows vitamin B12 (1000mcg) taken daily for 6 months, reduced the pain, the number of ulcers and the duration of outbreaks. By 6 months the vitamin taking group was free of outbreaks. The scientists found that the initial blood level of Vitamin B12 didn't matter so there is no need to check that test.

Score one for Vitamin B12 and canker sores.

The second study showed another benefit for taking Vitamin D if blood levels are low. Patients who had lower levels of serum Vitamin D were more likely to develop upper respiratory tract infections, even after the scientists controlled for smoking, body mass index, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Low Vitamin D levels have also been associated with cancer, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson's and bone disorders.

I check Vitamin D levels in all patients and advise supplements if the levels are low.

I am not against vitamins. But I am scientifically driven and I'm against "wishful thinking" that handfuls of vitamins can protect us from diseases when there is no science to back up those claims. Put your money into organic foods instead.


Kellie said...

I think I had also read that having the right level of Vitamin D can also help with Thyroid problems and Depression.

Raymond Bouchayer said...

Yar to darn smart :) everything in moderation I say ...not too long ago it was discovered that the sailors' would avoid "scurvy" by sucking on Lime ........hmmm ! Vitamin C ...right ? I would not be surprised if more good stuff comes out on vitamins ....take potassium for example if I did not take a extremely large dose of K-Dur I would have to eat one or two trees of bananas to get what I needed . makes one wonder .

Healthnut said...

Vitamin D is actually a hormone, not a vitamin as originally thought. So if one does not have the right mixture of amino acids, one will become Vitamin D deficient. A good example is the following article about a vegan child who developed ricket from the result of Vitamin D deficiency.


Supplements are sold as either D2(ergocalciferol-vegetarian source)or D3 (cholecalciferol-animal source). Some say D3 is better while others than D2 is better. The verdict is out, but how do you know what's what when it's just labeled Vitamin D? Vitamin D comes in 5 forms - D1 to D5. A pill will only provide D2 and/or D3 at most, and the conversion rate for these two is not even 1:1.

Toni Brayer MD said...

Raymond: Vitamins, hormones and supplements that are treating a specific condition or that have been proven to have value in preventing disease (ie: vit D, calcium, potassium or Omega3FFA etc. etc.) should be taken as prescribed. I have never espoused that no vitamins should be taken and in fact, I recommend them for specific conditions.

What I am referring to is the supplements people take because they "wish" it will make them healthy, despite the science that says they don't do a thing.

Of course we all need vitamins and minerals and they should come from natural food sources.

gourmetrenee said...

Maybe the question should be the delivery system and/or bottlenecks? Of course you will fail a test if you don't show up? I just found a liquid nano vitamin in Sept. that has a high D3 level, in addition to CoQ10 and essential vitamins and minerals, can't believe it even has SOD and catalase! My husband has been screening patients in his practice for the last 6 months: Night and day difference. People were presenting with aches, night sweats, irritability, dry skin, nails and hair. Migraines, fatigue, lethargy, exhaustion were the most common chief complaints, AND we live in upstate NY where sun is a luxury. The nano liquid bypasses gi tract, so malabsorption patients, especially bariatric patients, see it as a godsend! Theory on just eating well enough goes out the window there. Plus, calories, we need an answer for calories. Gradual yet continuous restriction is the best way to lose weight. We see how well exercise is going, since about half the population is now overweight!

Jonathan said...

My annual blood screening included a blood test for my vitamin D level, which indicated I was low, and consequently, per my doctor’s advice, I went shopping for a vitamin D supplement.

Supplement shopping, it turns out, sounds easy, but can be complicated. In the case of vitamin D, a quick Google search shows that consuming cod liver oil, a typical vitamin D supplement, puts one at risk for adding PCB’s and other toxins to their body, not to mention the possibility of suffering the consequences of vitamin A toxicity from getting too much vitamin A, as cod liver is very rich in both vitamins A and D.

On the other hand, the aforementioned Google search will also reveal that cod liver oil testing shows it to be free of mercury, PCB’s, pesticides and the like. So, who’s right and who has an axe to grind?

Digging further, are all vitamin D supplements from cod liver oil? It’s hard to say, for if you go vitamin shopping on the Internet many suppliers don’t list the source of their vitamin D, just its strength and recommended dosage.

So, how does a consumer make an informed decision? Michael Pollan, in my thinking a modern day Upton Sinclair, has suggested that we obtain our foods locally and better yet from producers that we have relationships with to ensure the quality and safety of the food we buy.

I was fortunate enough to question Pollan directly on this subject and asked what we consumers could do in the event we’re unable to have a relationship with the people we buy food from (or in this case, vitamins). Pollan’s suggestion was that we end up relying on the institutions we do business with to ensure the qualify and safety of our foodstuffs and that in the future third-parties may well play an important role in vouching for the quality and safety of what we consume. Ah, I commented, so I’m relying on Peet’s to ensure that my organic tea really is organic, and how is Peet’s doing given that the Chinese apparently have some problems ensuring the safety of their food products?

Clearly, there are no easy answers here, and in looking for a vitamin D supplement I first decided against cod liver oil because of the high doses of vitamin A associated with it (even though I found reported on the Internet that in some Scandinavian locations cod liver oil is consumed by the glassful). Secondly, I searched for manufactures that listed the source of their vitamin D on the bottle.

In the end, I found a vitamin D supplement at Whole Foods, who I’m relying on to “do the right thing” in acting as my institutional guarantor by vetting their supplier to ensure the safety and quality of the vitamin supplement I’m purchasing. That supplement listed skipjack tuna as the source of their vitamin D on the label and also indicated that the product was third-party tested, although it’s not at all clear what the testing encompassed. (I’m hoping the testing included looking for heavy metals, PCB’s, pesticides and other impurities, and further I’m hoping they didn’t find anything. After all, skipjack tuna, who knows, may well contain elevated levels of mercury, although skipjack is a relatively small species and may hence contain less mercury).

Is this ever straightforward? I think not. Like I said, vitamin supplement shopping, it turns out, sounds easy, but can be complicated. Maybe just getting more sun exposure would be the best remedy for a vitamin D deficiency… but then again there’s the risk of skin cancer.

KM said...

Jonathan: I take Vitamin D for a deficiency I have prescribed by my doctor and was told to take 1000 IU's.
I used the brand "Nature Made" (not cod liver oil) and it worked GREAT for me geting me into a normal level of VIT D when I was retested. I found it at Long's if you live near one or they are on line as well. Good luck getting your's up to the normal range.

Lookingforinfo said...

To gourmetrenee,
What is the name of this supplement? I just tested very low on Vitamin D and my dr. prescribed a supplement of 50,000 IU twice a week. I am sensitive to medications and I am leery about taking this prescription. Thanks.

viagra said...

I'm not much of a fan when dealing with pills, I always look for natural solutions, after all nature is the best source of medications.

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Score one for Vitamin B12 and canker sores.

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