Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Pill Will Cure Everything

Driving in the early morning (6:00) and listening to AM talk radio is a fascinating experience. While surfing channels I learned so much about health.

Dr. Stewart was being "interviewed" in talk show format and told the listeners all about "C-Max" It turns out that this formula of vitamin C can add 6 years to your life. Also if you take this wonder pill, it prevents heart attacks and strokes and diabetes too. He quotes large studies from somewhere (30,000 people) that prove simple vitamin C is the elixir of health. When the "talk show host" asked "Why aren't other doctors talking about this?" He replied, "It's not their fault. They only got 2 hours of nutrition lectures in medical school. They just don't know." Thank you Dr Stewart for educating me. Channel flip...

Next I heard another "talk show" with a very energetic and knowledgeable Dr. Bond. I didn't catch the name of the formula but it contained Lutein and Co-Q10. This wonder pill does even more than Vitamin C. It turns out it prevents blindness, makes skin smooth, prevents heart attacks, strokes and cancer. He quotes studies from somewhere that show the brain needs these ingredients so it even prevents alzheimers..."order today".

Let me be clear. We do need Vitamin C, Lutein and Co-Q10 in our diets. Lutein is found in dark green leafy vegetables. Fresh spinach and broccoli are cheap and available at all markets and steamed with a little garlic will provide ample lutein. Vitamin C is easily obtained with citrus juice or fruit. Co-Q10 is a little harder to get in the diet because we don't each much mackerel. There is conflicting data on the benefits of supplementing Co-Q10 (sorry Dr. Bond) and it is an expensive supplement.

I have reported before about well controlled, large trials that debunked the benefits of antioxidant supplements (Vitamin E, beta Carotene, Vitamin C etc.) These vitamins and minerals are essential to good health but taking a pill will not get you the good health you want.

What do I take? Vitamin D, CoQ10 and Omega 3. Except for the CoQ10 (I'm hedging on that one) they have data that shows benefits. I am data driven and hate to waste money. 5 fruits and vegetables a day in the diet is the way to get the best nutrients.

The radio infomercial talk shows are quite entertaining, however.


HealthNutWannaBeDad said...

The person who believes you get everything you need for good health, strictly from your diet, is rare indeed.


Eat Well. Live Well.

Toni Brayer MD said...

HealthNut Paul: I never said "everything" and certainly some people need dietary supplements (B12, calcium, etc) but this idea that taking random vitamin pills will increase your lifespan or decrease diseases has just not had any scientific proof. I'd rather spend my money on a massage and organic foods.
Nothing against PurpleGreenPops! said...

Toni Brayer MD,

I agree with you, taking random vitamin pills will most likely not increase your lifespan or decrease diseases. At the same time, when you give someone a prescription, don't you tell the patient to make sure and finish the bottle?

But let's make sure we are comparing apples to apples here. I say that because most vitamin studies are inherently flawed.

Some thorough questions that should be asked of such a study include:

What exactly was studied, and how?

Was it an IN VITRO (test-tube) study or an IN VIVO animal) study?

Was there a clinical study on people?

Who paid for the study?

What form of supplement was used?

What dosages were used?

Any vitamin C study using less than 2,000 mg a day is a waste of time. Any vitamin E study employing less than 400 International Units (I.U.) is a waste of time. Any study using less than 1,000 mg niacin a day is a waste of time. All low-dose studies are set up to fail.

Low doses of vitamins do not cure major diseases. Large doses cure diseases.

Also, read the entire vitamin study and interpret the data for yourself. Do not rely on the summary and/or conclusions of the study authors. And beware of editorializing.

As for scientific studies advocating vitamins, researchers at the University of Texas Anderson Cancer Center have found that taking more vitamin E substantially reduces lung cancer. There's more studies like this. Much more. But you often have to dig to find it.

Here's one source.Here's where I'm coming from. When I was in college, my grandfather died of cancer. A few years later, a 32 year old friend of mine died of leukemia. Not too long after that, my father died of cancer, after being on oxygen for eight years. I decided I didn't want to end up like that.

I have a friend, Mrs. Gravely, who is now ninety-one years old. At one point, her health was so bad her family was going to get her a live-in nurse. Then she decided to take charge of her health. Though it took two years, she turned her health around by changing her diet and using concentrated nutrition.

My wife used to have to wear glasses. But after we married, she started juicing and using whole-food nutritional supplements. We were totally surprised when her eyesight was restored. She no longer needs to wear glasses.

So I believe nutrition matters and makes a difference in our health. It is not the one and only factor, but it is part of the equation, along with exercise, sleep, less stress, and other factors.

The key is, make sure you are getting your nutrients from food. Your body knows exactly what to do with the nutrients and there are no bad side effects.

So if you choose to supplement, make sure your supplements are made from food. Otherwise, they are doing you no good and in fact, may be harmful.

Mark Twain once said, "A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still."

So I don't argue with people who do not believe nutrition matters. I simply smile and move on. All I know is, I saw what happened to my granddad, friend and dad.

And I saw what happened to Mrs. Gravely and my wife.

Thanks for taking the time to read all of this. I apologize for the length. I started and got on a roll.

Have a good day.


Eat Well. Live Well.

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