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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ritalin versus Nutritional Treatment for Children with ADHD

Comprehensive free handbook:

Outcome-based Comparison of Ritalin versusFood-supplement Treated Children with ADHD
This section is compiled by Frank M. Painter, D.C.

FROM: Alternative Medicine Review 2003 (Aug); 8 (3): 319-330 ~ FULL TEXTHarding KL, Judah RD, Gant C.Harvard Medical School Fellow, McLean Hospital, Belmont, Massachusetts, internship in child/adolescent psychology, post-doctoral program, neuropsychologyTwenty children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) were treated with either Ritalin (10 children) or dietary supplements (10 children), and outcomes were compared using the Intermediate Visual and Auditory/Continuous Performance Test (IVA/CPT) and the WINKS two-way analysis of variance with repeated measures and with Tukey multiple comparisons. Subjects in both groups showed significant gains (p less than 0.01) on the IVA/CPT's Full Scale Response Control Quotient and Full Scale Attention Control Quotient (p less than 0.001). Improvements in the four sub-quotients of the IVA/CPT were also found to be significant and essentially identical in both groups: Auditory Response Control Quotient (p less than 0.001), Visual Response Control Quotient (p less than 0.05), Auditory Attention Quotient (p less than 0.001), and Visual Attention Quotient (p less than 0.001). Numerous studies suggest that biochemical heterogeneous etiologies for AD/HD cluster around at least eight risk factors: food and additive allergies, heavy metal toxicity and other environmental toxins, low-protein/high-carbohydrate diets, mineral imbalances, essential fatty acid and phospholipid deficiencies, amino acid deficiencies, thyroid disorders, and B-vitamin deficiencies. The dietary supplements used were a mix of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, amino acids, essential fatty acids, phospholipids, and probiotics that attempted to address the AD/HD biochemical risk factors. These findings support the effectiveness of food supplement treatment in improving attention and self-control in children with AD/HD and suggest food supplement treatment of AD/HD may be of equal efficacy to Ritalin treatment.From the Full-Text Article: IntroductionAttention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) is classified by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) as a mental disorder primarily characterized by a “persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that is more frequent and severe than is typically observed in individuals at a comparable level of development.” The DSM IV explicitly defines the meaning of the term “disorder.” [1 ]“In DSM-IV, each of the mental disorders is conceptualized as a clinically significant behavioral or psychological syndrome or pattern that occurs in an individual and that is associated with present distress (e.g., a painful symptom) or disability (i.e., impairment in one or more important areas of functioning).... Whatever its original cause, it must currently be considered a manifestation of a behavioral, psychological, or biological dysfunction in the individual.... In DSM-IV, there is no assumption that each category of mental disorder is a completely discrete entity with absolute boundaries dividing it from other mental disorders or from no mental disorder. There is also no assumption that all individuals described as having the same mental disorder are alike in all important ways. The clinician using the DSM-IV should therefore consider that... individuals sharing a diagnosis are likely to be heterogeneous even in regard to the defining features of the diagnosis and that boundary cases will be difficult to diagnose in any but a probabilistic fashion.”Although individuals diagnosed with AD/HD share a similar range of outward behavioral symptoms, the underlying causalities are “likely to be heterogeneous,” [2] a term defined as “of unlike natures, composed of unlike substances” and “consisting of dissimilar or diverse ingredients or constituents.” [3] Such heterogeneity could be within biological, psychological, and/or social levels of organization (The Biopsychosocial Model) [4] or could vary widely within each level of organization for each individual with AD/HD. At least at the biological level of the biopsychosocial model, an extensive literature review by Kidd strongly supports a heterogeneous molecular etiology for AD/HD, with each individual likely to have a unique array of abnormalities expressed symptomatically as AD/HD. [5 ]There is a complex body of information suggesting multiple, heterogeneous, biochemical etiologies for AD/HD. For purposes of discussion and clinical utility, the information can be assembled into eight general etiological categories:(1) food and additive allergies; [6-25] (2) heavy metal toxicity and other environmental toxins; [26-36] (3) low-protein, high-carbohydrate diets;37-39 (4) mineral imbalances; [40-52] (5) essential fatty acid (EFA) and phospholipid deficiencies; [53-57] (6) amino acid deficiencies; [58-63 ](7) thyroid disorders; [64-67] and (8) B-vitamin and phytonutrient deficiencies. [68-74 ]Each of the publications noted above examines only the relationship of AD/HD to a single or a few risk factors. Furthermore, within each etiological category, the studies primarily examine only the relationship of AD/HD to a single or a few variables within each category. Exemplary variables included, but were not limited to, various food and additive allergies, two toxic metals (aluminum and lead), several B-vitamin (B1, B3, and B6) deficiencies, several amino acid (tryptophan, tyrosine, and D- and L-phenylalanine) deficiencies, thyroid abnormalities, a high-carbohydrate and low-protein diet, endogenous protein and carbohydrate metabolic abnormalities, EFA deficiencies of the omega-3 series, and abnormalities in several essential minerals (iron, selenium, zinc, copper, phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium).The neurobiological etiology of AD/HD has been postulated to be associated with deficiencies in catecholamines, such as norepinephrine and dopamine, [75] with little discussion concerning the physiological origins of the multifaceted mechanisms required to generate such neurotransmitters. Likewise, the therapeutic effect of Ritalin® is thought to be linked to its effects on norepinephrine and dopamine. [76] In contrast to this view of neurotransmitters as isolated variables that exist independent of the whole organism, this study protocol attempted to restore and regulate neurotransmitters in test subjects by supplementing the diet with amino acid precursors (e.g., tyrosine) likely to be deficient in the subject as determined by symptoms. For instance, since tyrosine is the precursor for dopamine and norepinephrine, and deficiencies in these excitatory neurotransmitters are likely to be a factor in inattentiveness, subjects who displayed predominantly inattentive symptoms (as opposed to hyperactivity) were provided with extra tyrosine as part of their supplement regimen. In addition, vitamin and mineral co-factors for neurotransmitter formation were supplemented. Other etiological factors were addressed by nutrients as indicated.Read the FULL TEXT Article now.

Skin cells turned directly into neurons - Benefits degenerative brain diseases such as Parkinson's or those with spinal injuries.

Skin cells turned directly into neurons
By Clive Cookson

Published: January 28 2010 02:00 Last updated: January 28 2010 02:00

Stem cell scientists at Stanford University in California announced "a huge step forward" last night, with the publication of research that turned skin into nerve cells without any intermediate step.

The production of neurons [nerve cells] directly from other adult cells, without making stem cells en route, could transform "regenerative medicine" - providing a plentiful supply of neurons for treating people with degenerative brain diseases such as Parkinson's or those with spinal injuries.
"We actively and directly induced one cell type to become a completely different cell type," said Marius Wernig of Stanford's Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine. "These are fully functional neurons. They can do all the principal things that neurons in the brain do."

This includes making connections with and signalling to other nerve cells - critical functions if the cells are eventually to be used as therapy for brain disease. The study is published online in the journal Nature .

Although research had suggested that specialised cells could be coaxed to show properties of other cell types, this is the first time skin cells have been converted into neurons in a laboratory.

The change happened within a week of treating mouse skin cells with a mixture of three genes, with an efficiency of up to nearly 20 per cent. The scientists are now working to duplicate the feat with human cells.

Until recently, scientists believed cellular differentiation was a one-way process, with primitive and versatile embryonic stem cells giving rise to all the body's more specialised cells.

Then, in 2007 they discovered how to turn the clock back, reversing the specialisation process by converting adult cells to "induced pluripotent stem cells", which could then become a different type of cell.

The latest discovery shows that this intermediate step is unnecessary. But many years of work will be needed before direct conversion reaches the clinic.
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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Popular Drugs May Help Only Severe Depression

Popular Drugs May Help Only Severe Depression

Some widely prescribed drugs for depression provide relief in extreme cases but are no more effective than placebo pills for most patients, according to a new analysis released Tuesday.

The findings could help settle a longstanding debate about antidepressants. While the study does not imply that the drugs are worthless for anyone with moderate to serious depression — many such people do seem to benefit — it does provide one likely explanation for the sharp disagreement among experts about the drugs’ overall effectiveness.

Taken together, previous studies have painted a confusing picture. On one hand, industry-supported trials have generally found that the drugs sharply reduce symptoms. On the other, many studies that were not initially published, or were buried, showed no significant benefits compared with placebos.

The new report, appearing in The Journal of the American Medical Association, reviews data from previous trials on two types of drugs and finds that their effectiveness varies according to the severity of the depression being treated.
Previous analyses had found a similar pattern. But the new study is the first to analyze responses from hundreds of people being treated for more moderate symptoms, as are most people who seek care.

“I think the study could dampen enthusiasm for antidepressant medications a bit, and that may be a good thing,” said Dr. Erick H. Turner, a psychiatrist at Oregon Health and Science University. “People’s expectations for the drugs won’t be so high, and doctors won’t be surprised if they’re not curing every patient they see with medications.”

But Dr. Turner added, “The findings shouldn’t dampen expectations so much that people refuse to even try medication.”

A team of researchers, including psychologists who favor talk therapy and doctors who consult widely with drug makers, performed the new analysis, using government grants. The group evaluated six large drug trials, including 728 men and women, about half of them with severe depression and half with more moderate symptoms.
Three of the trials were of Paxil, from GlaxoSmithKline, a so-called S.S.R.I., and the other three were of imipramine, an older generic drug from the class known as tricyclics. The team, led by Jay C. Fournier and Robert J. DeRubeis of the University of Pennsylvania, found that compared with placebos, the drugs caused a much steeper reduction in symptoms of severe depression (cases scoring 25 or higher on a standard scale of severity, putting them in the top quarter of the sample). Patients with scores of less than 25 got little or no added benefit from the medications.

“We were able to give an overall estimate of effectiveness for the first time in this more moderate severity range, from 14 to 20 on the scale, in which there’s no question that doctors would likely consider prescribing medication,” Dr. DeRubeis said.

His co-authors included Steven D. Hollon and Dr. Richard C. Shelton of Vanderbilt University, Sona Dimidjian of the University of Colorado, Dr. Jan Fawcett of the University of New Mexico and Dr. Jay D. Amsterdam of Penn.

The effects of other popular S.S.R.I.’s like Lexapro and Prozac are not likely to be much different than those of Paxil, experts said.

Dr. DeRubeis and others said antidepressants’ inability to outperform placebos against moderate symptoms stemmed partly from the sustained attention that patients in drug trials received from top doctors — which itself can help relieve symptoms, drug or no drug. For some people, too, the drugs’ side effects may cancel any benefit.

“The message for patients with mild to moderate depression,” Dr. DeRubeis said, “is, ‘Look, medications are always an option, but there’s little evidence that they add to other efforts to shake the depression — whether it’s exercise, seeing the doctor, reading about the disorder or going for psychotherapy.’ ”
For a full spectrum look at natural solutions for stress and mood management see here:
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Monday, January 25, 2010

Vital Health Research - The Vitamin Paradigm Wars - Don't Believe Everything You hear

The Vitamin Paradigm Wars
Abram Hoffer, M.D, Ph.D.

I have been involved in megavitamin controversies from 1955 when with two colleagues we [1] published our paper showing that niacin lowered total cholesterol levels. This was quickly confirmed because Dr. W. B. Parsons, Jr[2] . It was easy to measure cholesterol levels. Dr Parsons is one of the most knowledgeable and experienced internists in the use of niacin to lower cholesterol levels. But after we[3] published a much more comprehensive paper where we concluded: (1) that the addition of niacin or niacinamide in large doses was therapeutic for acute and non deteriorated schizophrenics; (2) was not therapeutic for chronic patients, our involvement in controversy became massive, until today even though every study using the same type of patients, the same methods and the same regimen, has corroborated our findings.
The conclusions reached by Dr. E. Cameron and Linus Pauling[4] on the beneficial effect of ascorbic acid on the outcome of terminal cancer was just as forcefully rejected by the cancer establishment. The main reason for the non acceptance of the Vale of Leven's conclusions and for the non acceptance of our psychiatric findings is very simple. We are just now beginning to emerge from the vitamins-as-prevention paradigm into the vitamins-as-treatment paradigm. Psychiatry is simply ten or more years behind the rest of the medical sciences.

The Five Stages of Vitamin Discovery and Use

Machlin[5] divided the history of the vitamins into five periods. The first phase was present from 1500 B.C. to about 1900 A.D. when it was empirically observed that certain foods prevented some diseases. Egyptians used liver to prevent night blindness. Central American Indians used specially treated and cooked corn to prevent pellagra for several thousand years.

The second period started about 1890 and continued until about 1910. During this period the relationship between the lack of certain foods and disease became established. Thus polished rice was proven to cause beri beri. Of course, if brown rice had remained the staple food of the Japanese Navy there would have been no problem and no discovery of thiamin as a vitamin. During the first period it became recognized that altering the natural food supply would produce disease. This lesson is still imperfectly understood by most modern societies.

The third phase from 1900 to 1948 was the golden age of vitamin discovery, isolation and synthesis of vitamins.

The fourth phase from 1933 began with the first commercial synthesis of vitamin C and continues today.

These four phases comprise the vitamin-as-prevention paradigm. This paradigm became so firmly established that only now is it beginning to weaken by the onslaught of new information.

The fifth phase is the recognition of health effects beyond prevention and new biochemical functions. It is the vitamin-as-treatment paradigm. It is beginning to enter the medical profession, has not yet been accepted by the medical schools which remain many years behind in the teaching of nutrition and is still tightly held by dietitians and many nutritionists, especially those working for institutions.

The introduction of this last phase is credited by Machlin to our paper in 1955 which showed that megadoses of nicotinic acid decreased total cholesterol, the decrease being relatively greater the higher the initial blood level. He wrote, "I somewhat arbitrarily started the fifth period with the report in 1955 of the cholesterol-lowering effect of niacin, which is a well-accepted response of the vitamin that has nothing to do with its coenzyme role and is a clear health effect beyond preventing the deficiency disease pellagra". I had concluded many years ago that this early report would be one of the most important findings which would take us into the modern paradigm. It is the first vitamin to be approved for megadose use by FDA, for lowering cholesterol, but it could also be used for any other indication including the schizophrenias.

The Vitamin-as-Prevention Paradigm

This paradigm is described by the following rules or beliefs:

1) That vitamins are catalysts and therefore are needed in very small doses since they can be recycled almost indefinitely.

2)That they are needed only to prevent deficiency disease i.e. diseases caused by a deficiency of these vitamins. Thiamin is needed to prevent beri beri, nicotinic acid is needed to prevent pellagra and vitamin C is needed to prevent scurvy.

It therefore follows that any use of vitamins which disobeys these rules is not indicated and has by many medical societies been considered unethical practice or malpractice. If they are needed only in small doses the use of large doses must be forbidden. If they are used only to prevent disease, any use to treat other disease must be forbidden.

For these reasons regulatory daily requirement were developed as a guide to society and to the professions. They are invariably small doses based upon this paradigm and upon very little real hard evidence of their practicality and usefulness. The prevention paradigm adherents presented a hard and secure front against those who would break its rules by enforcing the view that large doses were never needed, that they were potentially dangerous (these dangers were never clearly defined and related to dose level, and the height of sarcasm thrown against vitamins-as-treatment physicians was that the only thing vitamins would do is to enrich the urine and the waters into which that urine ran. Just a few months ago a physician attacked some of my views in a popular medical journal by claiming that the waters around Victoria must be rich in vitamin C. If I had retorted I would have added that this is better than enriching them with antibiotics, tranquilizers, antidepressants and the thousands of drugs which now enrich the waters. A physician friend and colleague lost his medical license in Saskatchewan. One of the charges against him was that he gave a patient intravenous ascorbic acid. Another was that he diagnosed a patient schizophrenic with the help of a test developed by Humphry Osmond and I called the HOD[6] test. This is a very helpful perceptual test which yields probability levels for the presence of schizophrenia.

Vitamin-as-Treatment Paradigm

This paradigm contains the following new rules, based upon a good deal of evidence:
) That optimum doses should be used in both prevention and treatment and that these doses vary from very small to very large, i.e. into the megavitamin range. For example to prevent pellagra one needs about 10 milligrams of nicotinic acid daily, but to prevent the symptoms of chronic pellagra from recurring one will need close to 1000 mg daily. There is no optimum doses for the whole population. It depends upon age, sex, type of illness, type of stress, i.e. upon the individual. We will have to determine the optimum levels for schizophrenics, for depressions, for the arthritides, for lupus, for cancer and so on. This is well described by Roger Williams[7] in his classic works on biochemical individuality.

That vitamins may have activity which appears to be unrelated to their properties as vitamins. This was a very difficult concept to accept but the introduction of the word antioxidants struck a responsive chord and many physicians who were terribly fearful of using vitamins had no compunction against using the same vitamins an antioxidants. This fits in with the increasingly popular view that hyper oxidation, the formation of free radicals, is basic in the pathology of a large number of conditions including cancer, senility and so on.

The Assault on the Vitamin-as-Prevention Paradigm

This began about 55 years ago with the report by the American pellagrologists that chronic pellagra could not be treated except by very large doses of nicotinic acid; they used 600 mg daily. It was also shown that dogs kept on the pellagra- producing diet for a long time no longer responded to small doses of this vitamin. They had become dependent and needed much larger doses.

The next assault on this paradigm arose from the classic studies of William Kaufman[8] who reported in two books before 1950 the marked therapeutic benefit to arthritics by giving them multigram doses of vitamin B-3 daily. But this important work was ignored and hardly any physicians are aware it was ever done.

The next attack came from a different direction, from the work of Drs. Wilfred and Evan Shute[9] of Ontario who showed that large doses of vitamin E given for adequate periods of time were very helpful in treating coronary disease, burns, and were useful in prevention. They were not ignored. They were almost destroyed by a medical profession which was completely unaware of the importance of their work, did not believe vitamin E was a vitamin and knew with absolute certainty that their work was useless. The Shute Clinic, still in existence, treated over 30,000 patients from all over North America. The agenda of the few attempts to repeat their work was to show how useless vitamin E was. Today the major studies[10] which have confirmed this early work still consistently refuse to acknowledge the prior work of these great pioneers, as if the idea had sprung freshly minted from their own foreheads when they launched the Harvard Vitamin E studies. Had the Shutes' findings been taken seriously in 1960, think of enormous saving of human health, the enormous decrease in human misery and the enormous financial saving over the past 35 years.

In the early Fifties, Dr. Fred Klenner began his work on megadoses of vitamin C. He used doses up to 100 grams per day orally or intravenously. In clinical reports he recorded the excellent response he saw when it was given in large doses. He reported, for example, that patients given vitamin C would suffer no residual defects from their polio. A controlled study in England on 70 children, half given vitamin C and half given placebo showed that none of the treated cases developed any paralysis while up to 20 percent of the untreated group did[11] .

This study was not published because the Salk Vaccine had just been developed and no one was interested in vitamins. Dr. Klenner's work was ignored.

However, only after Linus Pauling entered the field with his classic report to Science in 1968 did the use of megadoses of vitamins receive major world attention. The public and a few scientists were immediately attracted to his conclusions world wide, while the medical profession as a block dumped all over him. Their main objection apparently was that he did not have an M.D. Dr. Pauling became interested in vitamins about the time he had decided to retire. He had won his second unshared Nobel Prize and was getting tired and frustrated by the opposition to his work for peace. He had made a few powerful enemies including Senator McCarthy of anti communist fame, and Joseph Stalin of communist fame who considered his views on the atom directly opposed to communist theory. At a meeting in New York in 1966, both Dr. Irwin Stone and I met Dr. Pauling for the first time. Dr. Stone had assembled a large collection of vitamin C papers (he hated the word vitamin C and preferred the more correct term ascorbic acid). Dr. Stone first used the word megavitamin and the word hypoascorbemia. He considered scurvy, not a deficiency disease, but a metabolic error. I urged him to publish his review of ascorbic acid which he did several years later[12] . Irwin heard Dr. Pauling state that he wished he could live another 25 years because science was making so many interesting discoveries. Dr. Stone wrote to him and told him he could achieve his goal if he would take vitamin C in megadoses. Dr. Pauling tried it out, was convinced because he felt so much better, and lived another 30 years.

The major impetus given by Linus Pauling to the megadose concept of vitamin C stimulated by Irwin Stone has finally thrown this vitamin into public and medical acceptance. Many years ago Linus Pauling concluded that people taking ascorbic acid would live longer[13] . All the information we have about ascorbic acid lead to this conclusion. It is therefore very helpful to actually see what it can do in practice for the final test is the practical one - does it work? In fact, it does. Dr. James Enstrom[14] , School of Public Health, University of California at Los Angeles analyzed a ten year study of 11,348 people, aged 25 to 74. Men who consumed at least 300 mg of ascorbic acid suffered 41 percent fewer deaths during that period compared with men who took only 50 mg, in their food. They lived on the average 6 years longer. For women the results were not as striking. This amount of ascorbic acid can not be obtained from the diet alone and shows that supplements are essential. Had they used gram doses daily, I think the results would have been more striking.

Dr. A.G. Brox[15] and colleagues at McGill University found that two grams of ascorbic acid daily, successfully treated 7 out of 11 patients with idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP). They had all been sick more than two months and had not responded to adrenocorticosteroids. Three had had splenectomies. Four had failed additional treatment including the current usual treatments. Their report had been rejected by the New England Journal of Medicine, I think, because they were then involved in a dispute with Linus Pauling. They had refused to advise him whether a rebuttal letter answering the Mayo cancer and ascorbic acid studies he had submitted would be published until he threatened them with legal action. Then they rejected it. I have one patient now with ITP on ascorbic acid who has been well over five years, but only as long as she remains on her ascorbic acid. If she discontinues it, her platelet count begins to sink within a few weeks.

Linus Pauling[16] carried the orthomolecular concepts into the field of cancer and again stirred up a hornets nest of hostility. For a good discussion of his work see Hoffer[17] . But I am totally convinced he was correct. His many scientific reports were very impressive. My studies with Pauling[18] on 660 cancer patients beginning in 1978 are confirmatory.

The first major attention to megadoses of vitamins followed our report of the effect of nicotinic acid on cholesterol, not because we had reported it but because it was promptly confirmed by the Mayo Clinic. I had been invited by the Mayo Foundation to give them a series of lectures on schizophrenia. During a dinner I told their chief of psychiatry about the effect of nicotinic acid on cholesterol. He passed it on to the chief of medicine in the presence of his senior resident Dr. W. B. Parsons Jr[19] . Dr Parsons is one of the preeminent experts in the use of megadoses of nicotinic acid. The work was then taken up by Dr. E. Boyle, then with the National Institute of Health, and later by the Coronary Drug Study which eventually established nicotinic acid as the treatment of choice for hypercholesterolemia. It is also by and large the cheapest and safest.

During that time Humphry Osmond and I published our second book, "How To Live With Schizophrenia"[20] . A California patient[21] had recovered on orthomolecular treatment having failed the best California could offer over four years. Her father was so grateful he decided to educate every physician in his community. He did so by handing out copies of our book. One of them came into the hands of a psychiatrist. Dr. Pauling and Ava visited her one afternoon, and Dr. Pauling saw the book on her coffee table. He began to read it, borrowed it, and finished it by morning. He went to bed still thinking of retiring and he arose the next day determined that he would not and would enter this new field of megavitamin therapy. He was intrigued by the large doses of vitamin B-3 we were using with safety. This led to his Science report[22] and to his amazing contribution to the theory of meganutrient therapy, in the use of vitamin C for viral and other infections, for his very recent contribution to the cholesterol problem and heart disease.

Dr. Pauling made the greatest individual contribution toward the overthrow of the old paradigm and its replacement by the newer, more accurate, and useful one.

Megavitamin therapy was ignored by medicine at large and was vilified by psychiatry. Only after Dr. Pauling entered the fray did the major profession take notice, and then it too became very hostile and critical especially after Dr. Pauling's first book on the common cold appeared. The National Institute of Mental Health funded a study in New Jersey under the direction of Dr. Wittenborn, a research psychologist. They had first approached a psychiatrist in St. Louis, who agreed to do the study if I would be a consultant. So the NIMH turned to New Jersey. The Wittenborn study was double blind and was an attempt to repeat our original double blind controlled studies started a decade before. Dr. Wittenborn in his first report found that there was no difference between the placebo and the treated group. We had claimed that it worked best for early or acute patients and did not by itself help the very chronic ones. The Wittenborn[23] study was primarily on these chronic cases. Later Dr. Wittenborn re-analyzed his results by pulling out the early cases as we had done, and in his second report he showed that he got the same results that we had. His first report was greeted with shouts of enthusiasm from NIMH and later by the American Psychiatric Association when they did their task force report on Megavitamins and Orthomolecular Psychiatry. His second report was greeted by a cold silence and may have cost him any further support. His second paper was never referred to by the critics of megavitamin therapy.

The American Psychiatric Association called Humphry Osmond and me before their Committee on Ethics because I had published the California paper. After a vigorous half-day debate over 20 years ago in Washington they told us they would let us have their decision in a few weeks. We are still waiting. However, they effectively killed interest in the use of vitamins for treating schizophrenia when they issued their irresponsible and flawed report[24] . The APA bears major responsibility for preventing the introduction of a treatment which would have saved millions of patients from the ravages of chronic schizophrenia. Just as the APA was once captured by psychoanalysis, it is now captured by tranquilizers.

Folic acid is another safe water soluble vitamin. It has been used in doses up to 15 mg daily. There has been a report that this dose caused gastrointestinal disturbances but in another study with the same dose this was not seen. Most patients do not need more than 5 mg. Recently it has been proven that women will give birth to babies with spina bifida and similar neural tube defects (NTD) much less frequently if they take supplemental folic acid, 1 mg per day. I generally recommend 5 mg daily. Dr. Smithells[25] in 1982 showed that giving pregnant women extra folic acid decreased the incidence of NTD's. Before that he had measured the red cell folate and white cell vitamin C levels of mothers who had babies with NTD's and found they were lower in both. It was thus known since 1981 that a multivitamin preparation containing folic acid would decrease the birth of these damaged babies.

The immediate reaction to the original findings was one of strong disbelief and hostility, and the establishment refused to advise women to take folic acid until the requisite number of double blind experiments were done. At last they are satisfied 11 years later, culminating with a report in J. American Med Ass in 1989. Folic acid provided protection for most causes of the defect. Even in women with a family history, the frequency of babies with the defects was more than five times greater - 18 per 1000 against 3.5 per 1000, in women who did not take the vitamin in the first six weeks of pregnancy. How many babies could have been saved by such a simple solution? Even if the original findings had been wrong, what harm would it have done to have advised them immediately about this very important finding? I was astonished in 1981 at the vehemence of the reaction by physicians and nutritionists, and I am still astonished. The recent studies showed that folic acid decreased NTD's by 75 percent. If all the other vitamins were used as well I am certain that figure would be closer to 100 percent.

I can not recall in the past 40 years a single female patient of mine on vitamins giving birth to any child with a congenital defect. I have been able to advise them all that they not only would not harm their developing baby by taking vitamins, but that their chances of giving birth to a defective child would be greatly diminished. I was frequently asked this by my patients who had been told by their doctors that they must stop all their vitamins while pregnant. They looked upon vitamins as toxic drugs. I am still asked the same question for the same reason today.
However, governments can learn and respond. It is now official that pregnant women should take extra folic acid in order to prevent spina bifida and other birth defects. The U.S. Public Health Service has issued the following advisory: "In order to reduce the frequency of NTD's (neural-tube defects) and their resulting disability, the United States Public Health Service recommends that: All women of childbearing age capable of becoming pregnant should consume 0.4 mg of folic acid per day for the purpose of reducing their risk of having a pregnancy affected with spina bifida or other NTD's". This amount will not be provided by most diets and requires supplementation. Apparently the US Public Health Service is considering fortifying bread with folic acid. Folic acid is destroyed by heat but some will survive.

In USA about 25,000 babies are born each year with spina bifida. In Canada it has been estimated that each of these children will have cost about $40,000 by the time they are 14 years of age. Giving women folic acid early in their pregnancy would have avoided perhaps 3/4 of these births. Over ten years, while the cautious scientists were discussing whether folic acid was safe enough and was effective, 250,000 children were born at a total cost of 10 billion dollars (over ten years). Folic acid for pennies per day could have saved the United States public 7.5 billions dollars over this ten year period. The saving in public health dollars will be enormous. The waste in this long delay is inexcusable, since folic acid is totally safe and could have been given to all pregnant women over ten years ago. This is the costs of inactivity, of the conservative stance of the profession when it comes to the super safe vitamins.

The vitamins-as-treatment paradigm is developing very rapidly and will absorb the vitamin-as-prevention paradigm which is no longer needed. Vitamins are important nutrients which will be used in optimum doses, small or large, for conditions which are responsive whether or not they are considered to be vitamin deficiency diseases. Only the fossilized physicians who have been the most powerful antagonists of the newer medicine still adhere to the old, totally inadequate paradigm. But there are still physicians who question whether vitamin B-3 is the correct treatment for pellagra. They will still promote their old ideas and will bolster them by manufacturing toxicities. As a rule, when there are no toxicities, it is simple to invent them, such as vitamin C causes kidney stones, or damages the liver, or interferes with the treatment of diabetes and so on. Every month I hear about new toxicities which totally surprise and delight me because they indicate how imaginative my colleagues can be.

A. Hoffer, M.D, Ph.D.

Literature Cited
[1] Altschul R, Hoffer A & Stephen JD: Influence of Nicotinic Acid on Serum Cholesterol in Man. Arch Biochem Biophys 54:558-559, 1955.
[2] Parsons WB Jr, Achor RWP, Berge KG, McKenzie BF & Barker NW: Changes in Concentration of Blood Lipids Following Prolonged Administration of Nicotinic Acid to Persons With Hypercholesterolemia: Preliminary Observations. Proc. Mayo Clinic 31:377-390, 1956.
[3] Hoffer A, Osmond H, Callbeck MJ & Kahan I: Treatment of Schizophrenia with Nicotinic Acid and Nicotinamide. J Clin Exper Psychopathol 18:131-158, 1957.
[4] Cameron E & Pauling L: Cancer and Vitamin C. W. W. Norton & Co. New York, 1979. Updated and Expanded Cancer and Vitamin C, E. Cameron and L. Pauling, Camino Books, Inc., P.O. Box 59026, Phila., PA 19102, 1993.
[5] Machlin LJ: Introduction. Beyond Deficiency. New Views on the Function and Health Effects of Vitamins. Annals, New York Academy of Sciences 669:1-6, 1992.
[6] Hoffer A, Kelm H & Osmond H: The Hoffer-Osmond Diagnostic Test. RE Krieger Pub Co., Huntington, New York, 1975. Available from Behavior Science Press, Institute for Social and Educational Research, 3710 Resource Dr., Tuscaloosa, AL 35401-7059.
[7] Williams RJ: Nutrition Against Disease, Pitman Publishing Co. New York, 1971.
Williams RJ: You Are Extraordinary. Random House, Inc. New York, 1967.
Williams RJ: Physicians Handbook of Nutritional Science, C. C. Thomas, Springfield, IL, 1975.
[8] Kaufman W: Common Forms of Niacinamide Deficiency Disease: Aniacin Amidosis. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT 1943.
Kaufman W: The Common Form of Joint Dysfunction: Its Incidence and Treatment. E.L. Hildreth and Co., Brattelboro, 1949.
[9] Shute EV: The Heart and Vitamin E. The Shute Foundation for Medical Research, London, Canada, 1969.
Shute WE & Taub HJ: Vitamin E for Ailing and Healthy Hearts. Pyramid House, New York, 1969.
Shute WE: Vitamin E Book. Keats Publishing, New Canaan, CT, 1978.
[10] Stampfer MJ, Hennekens CH, Manson J, Colditz GA, Rosner B & Willett WC: Vitamin E consumption and the risk of coronary disease in women. New England J. Med. 328:1444-1449, 1993.
Rimm EB, Stampfer MJ, Ascherio A, Giovannucci E, Colditz GA & Willett WC: Vitamin E consumption and the risk of coronary heart disease in men. New England J Med 28:1450-1456, 1993.
[11] Gould, Jonathan: Private Communication to me in London, England, in 1954. [Return to Paper]
[12] Stone I: The Healing Factor, Vitamin C Against Disease. Grosset and Dunlap, New York, 1972.
[13] Pauling L: How To Live Longer and Feel Better. W. H. Freeman, New York, 1986.
[14] Enstrom JE, Kanim LE & Klein MA: Vitamin C Intake and Mortality among a Sample of the United States Population. Epidemiology 3:194-202, 1992.
[15] Brox AG, Howson-Jan KJ & Fauser AA: Treatment of idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura with ascorbate. Br. J Haematology 70:341-344, 1988.
[16] Cameron E: Protocol for the use of vitamin C in the treatment of cancer. Medical Hypothesis 36:190-194, 1991.
Cameron E & Campbell A: The orthomolecular treatment of cancer II. Clinical trial of high-dose ascorbic supplements in advanced human cancer. Chemical- Biological Interactions 9:285-315, 1974.
Cameron E & Campbell A: Innovation vs quality control: an "unpublishable" clinical trial of supplemental ascorbate in incurable cancer. Medical Hypothesis 36:185-189, 1991.
Campbell A, Jack T & Cameron E: Reticulum cell sarcoma: two complete "spontanous"; regressions, in response to high-dose ascorbic acid therapy. A report on subsequent progress. Oncology 48:495-497, 1991.
[17] Hoffer J: Nutrients as Biologic Response Modifiers. Adjuvant Nutrition in Cancer Treatment. Ed. P. Quillin & R. M. Williams. 1992 Symposium Proceedings, Cancer Treatment Research Foundation and American College of Nutrition, Cancer Treatment Research Foundation, 3455 Salt Creek Lane, Suite 200, Arlington Heights, IL
60005-1090, 1993
[18] Hoffer A & Pauling L: Hardin Jones Biostatistical Analysis of Mortality Data for Cohorts of Cancer Patients with a Large Fraction Surviving at the Termination of the Study and a Comparison of Survival Times of Cancer Patients Receiving Large Regular Oral Doses of Vitamin C and Other Nutrients with Similar Patients not Receiving those Doses. J Orthomolecular Medicine 5:143-154, 1990.
Hoffer A & Pauling L: Hardin Jones Biostatistical Analysis of Mortality Data for a Second Set of Cohorts of Cancer Patients with a Large Fraction Surviving at the Termination of the Study and a Comparison of Survival Times of Cancer Patients Receiving Large Regular Oral Doses of Vitamin C and Other Nutrients with Similar Patients Not Receiving These Doses. Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine 8:1547-167, 1993.
Hoffer A: Orthomolecular Oncology. In, Adjuvant Nutrition in Cancer Treatment. Ed. P. Quillin & R. Michael Williams, Cancer Treatment Research Foundation, 3455 Salt Creek Lane, Suite 200, Arlington Heights, IL 60005-1090, 1994.
[19] Parsons WB Jr: Clinical Alternatives Chap 8. In, Coronary Heart Disease. The Dietary Sense and Nonsense. An Evaluation by Scientists. Ed. G.V. Mann, Janus Publishing Company, London, England, pages 119-135, 1993.
[20] Hoffer A & Osmond H: How To Live With Schizophrenia. University Books, New York, NY, 1966. Also published by Johnson, London, 1966. Written by Fannie Kahan. New and Revised Edition, Citadel Press, New York, NY, 1992.
[21] Hoffer A: Five California Schizophrenics. J Schizophrenia 1:209-220, 1967. [Return to Paper]
[22] Pauling L: Orthomolecular Psychiatry. Science 160:265- 271, 1968. [Return to Paper]
[23] Wittenborn JR, Weber ESP & Brown M: Niacin in the long term treatment of schizophrenia. Arch Gen Psychiatry 28:308-15, 1973. Wittenborn JR: A Search for Responders to Niacin Supplementation. Arch Gen Psych 31:547-552, 1974. [Return to Paper]
[24] Hoffer A & Osmond H: In Reply to The American Psychiatric Association Task Force Report on Megavitamin and Orthomolecular Therapy in Psychiatry. Canadian Schizophrenia Foundation, Regina, SK, now at 16 Florence Ave., Toronto, ON, Canada M2N 1E9. August 1976.
[25] Smithells RW: Prevention of Neural Tube Defects by Vitamin Supplements. Ed. John Dobbing, Academic Press, New York, 53-84, 1983.

Don’t believe everything you hear!
by Sam Sewell, Phd

The drug companies deliberately skew science.

There has been a controversy swirling around the world about nutritional supplementation for decades. It seems like nearly every week you read stories in the news claiming a particular vitamin demonstrates NO effect on the prevention of a certain disease…

Even worse, news stories inundate us with the “dangers” of taking nutritional supplements. Recent headlines scream warnings, like beta-carotene increases risk of lung cancer. One headline tried to link vitamin E to in-creased deaths in elderly heart patients. Another says that even good old Vitamin A is down right dangerous.

There are various ways scientific researchers commit deliberate scientific “errors” when reporting on these “ineffective” vitamins!

Like how they deliberately use vitamin forms known to be inferior in the studies they conduct — cheaply compounded, poorly absorbed, low quality..

Like how they knowingly study single vitamins (even when biochemistry has demonstrated the dramatic benefits of certain vitamins working together, in concert)...

Or like how they fail to take into account major factors affecting participants, such as their diet or exposure to other health risks...

And I’ll bet you can guess the major role pharmaceutical industries play in these vitamin horror stories! So don’t be duped by media and big business-driven lies & half-truths!

Why would big drug companies be interested in the outcome of vitamin studies? Well, common sense tells us that there is much more money to be made pushing drugs one must take for a lifetime, than in addressing real health deficiencies. You can't get a patent on one of God's molecules.

Scientific research tells us that there is more compelling reason for drug companies to discourage the use of high quality nutritional supplementation.

The average person over age 65 has taken 19.1 prescriptions.

The average person 50 to 65 has taken 7.6 prescriptions.

The Shaklee user for 20+ years has taken 0.6 prescriptions. (avg. age 62)

How can I find out what is natural, safe, and effective?

What healthy alternatives do you have? Especially when prescription – and even non-prescription – medications carry so much extra baggage in the form of dangerous side effects, not to mention the fact that these drugs don’t really address the cause of the problems, just the symptoms.

We share the SCIENTIFIC TRUTH on the effectiveness of nutritional supplementation!

Recently, the University of California at Berkley did a long-term (20 year) study of the effectiveness of supplements.

The scientists who conducted this research are the leaders in their field.

The study was published in a peer reviewed scientific journal: see the abstract at:

We will reveal and discuss this research and shed some light on such questions as:

* What supplements can I use that have the highest safety & effectiveness?

* Is there a significant difference between the health of high quality supplement users & non users?

* Are there certain kinds of vitamins that can actually damage my health?

* How can I get started on a simple, easy-to-manage, scientifically validated supplement regimen?

Feeling Good? Here’s how to stay that way!


Live Longer, Feel Better:
Shaklee, Products in Harmony with Nature!

Please contact us for free nutritional counseling
and browse our Shaklee website at:

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Little Things Mean a Lot! -

Little Things Mean a Lot!
by Sam Sewell, PhD

We are so very grateful for the way that Vivix has helped bring about major improvements for so many people since its introduction in August 2008.

Of course big things are happening with Vivix, however my big eye opening experience happened before Vivix was introduced to the public. I went from needing a heart transplant to full heart health in just two years without drugs or surgery. Videos explaining that welcome revolution in my life are at: The book we wrote on the subject can be ordered in print or PDF download at:

I am pleased to report that since my recovery I haven’t had any “big” problems on which to base an extraordinarily noteworthy or astonishingly remarkable Vivix testimonial. I am certain that the “Total Life Saving Regimen” which resulted in the reversal of my heart disease is also playing an important role in the prevention of other significant health problems along with starting Vivix when it was first released..

As we age there is a cluster of minor symptoms that most people assume are a natural part of growing old. Using Vivix has caused me to question that assumption. At nearly seventy years of age I have noticed lots of little improvements, and collectively, “little things mean a lot.”

Age spots – A few months after I began using Vivix I got an Email from Dr Sandy Bevacqua reporting that the age spots on her hands had vanished. In July 2008 I had used my computer scanner to make an image of the ‘thumbs up’ gesture. I looked at that “before” image of my hand and there were the age spots. When I got Dr Bevacqua’s email, I looked down at my hands. No age spots!  “Total Life Saving Regimen”, or Vivix, who knows?

Dry eyes – I had adjusted to the reduction of natural moisture in my eyes the last few years by buying several bottles of eye drops at a time and using them every few hours. Since I began using Vivix, the natural moisture in my eyes has returned and I no longer buy or use eye drops. “Total Life Saving Regimen”, or Vivix, who knows?
Night vision – As a former Navy aviator I am very aware of the problems associated with a reduction in night vision. I no longer pilot an aircraft, but I love driving my trophy-winning muscle car at night. I began to notice the symptoms of reduced night vision, and had reluctantly adjusted to no more “midnight rambling.” Since taking Vivix, my vividly sharp “pilots” night vision has returned, and now I am comfortable going for late night cruises, just to hear the purr or roar of my five liter V-8. Other car nuts can see a photo of “Black Beauty” on my Shaklee personal web page at “Total Life Saving Regimen”, or Vivix, who knows?
Aches and pains – When I was about twenty-five years old I jumped across a small creek while out hunting. I landed on the other side and injured my left ankle. For more than forty years I had experienced chronic pain in that ankle, and a consistent “click” when I did range of motion movements. Since beginning Vivix the click and the pain have completely disappeared.  “Total Life Saving Regimen”, or Vivix, who knows?

I continued to be troubled by residual shoulder pain from the heart medications, although I had discontinued them over a year before. I realized recently that I am now exercising pain free.

Hair darker – Several people have commented that my gray hair appears darker recently.
More restful sleep – Like many people my age, I was experiencing irregular sleep patterns. my new regimen has resulted in more peaceful, uninterrupted sleep at night. I also notice that it does not take me as long to “wake up” in the mornings, and that my overall attitude is a lot more upbeat.  “Total Life Saving Regimen”, or Vivix, who knows?
Infections and fungus – Since I began using Vivix my toenail fungus is gone. Nor have I experienced my usual gum infections for months.  “Total Life Saving Regimen”, or Vivix, who knows?
Psoriasis – Since high school I have battled with psoriasis. Since my doctorate is in the behavioral sciences, not the physical sciences, I have lots to learn about health. One of the things I have learned is that both psoriasis and heart disease are inflammatory ailments. The effect of my new health regimen on my psoriasis is probably the most significant indicator of improved health. I took photos of my psoriasis-inflamed legs.
The psoriasis is not totally gone but it is improved so dramatically that the camera can now barely detect the inflammation. When my skin is completely healed I will take new photos and post them on our health sciences blog. “Total Life Saving Regimen”, or Vivix, who knows.?
These small improvements are most likely the result of an increase in fundamental overall healthiness. Vivix heals cells from the inside out, so I am not surprised that small solutions are the result of big changes in my body.

See this slide presentation for more information on VIVIX:

We did a full spectrum review of the science that supports longevity research and the break through Shaklee product; VIVIX!
"The Natural Advocate" - Longevity - Youth - Resveratrol - Polyphenols - and the Giant Grape
And here is a picture of the “Giant Grape”:

Bunny and Sam Sewell

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Science: dangers genetically modified food

"We hold this truth to be self-evident; our creator has endowed us with a laser straight path of natural thinking, feeling and behaving that has its origins in a sacred absolute reality. If we stray from that path we will experience pain. If we stay on that path we will be happy, healthy, and whole. “The Natural Advocate” will show you the guideposts and help you navigate along the centerline."

Up until now we have not commented on genetically modified foods. We are fully committed to being "The Natural Advocate" and we are also fully committed to scientific integrity. The scientific evidence of the dangers of TGM foods is now sufficient for us to take a stand.

"A study published in December 2009 in the International Journal of Biological Sciences found that three varieties of Monsanto genetically-modified corn caused damage to the liver, kidneys, and other organs of rats. One of the corn varieties was designed to tolerate broad-spectrum herbicides, (so-called 'Roundup-ready' corn), while the other two contain bacteria-derived proteins that have insecticide properties. The study made use of Monsanto's own raw data. Quoting from the study's 'Conclusions' section: 'Our analysis highlights that the kidneys and liver as particularly important on which to focus such research as there was a clear negative impact on the function of these organs in rats consuming GM maize varieties for just 90 days.' Given the very high prevalence of corn in processed foods, this could be a real ticking time bomb. And with food manufacturers not being required by law to declare GMO content, I think I'll do my best to avoid corn altogether.

Shaklee products contain no genetically modified ingredients.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Sunshine, Vitamin D, and Death by Scientific Consensus

Sunshine, Vitamin D, and Death by Scientific Consensus

Posted By Patrick Cox On January 7, 2010 @ 12:00 am In Health, Science & Technology, Stem Cells, Biotech, US News | 35 Comments

The traditional “Top Ten Breakthroughs of the Decade” lists have been appearing in science-related publications. One breakthrough, however, is conspicuously missing from every list I’ve seen so far. I’m talking about the new understanding of the role and proper dosage of the sunshine vitamin D.

The “scientific consensus” that has held sway for four decades regarding both exposure to the sun and vitamin D has collapsed. What has emerged in place of the old “settled science” is the knowledge that most people in America are seriously vitamin D deficient or insufficient. The same is true for Canada and Europe, and the implications are staggering.

Simply put, unless you are one of the few people with optimal serum D levels, such as lifeguards and roofers in South Florida, you can cut your risks from most major diseases by 50 to 80 percent. All you have to do is get enough D. It also means we can significantly reduce both health care costs and the staggering national deficit by taking a few simple steps.

As a financial writer, I bemoan the fact that no one can patent sunshine. Biotechs with therapies supported by far less evidence have exploded in value. Sirtris, for example, was bought by GlaxoSmithKline for $720 million to acquire IP for certain resveratrol-like substances. If you compare the evidence supporting the benefits of resveratrol vs. sunshine, sunshine leaves resveratrol in the dust.

I do, however, advise all my readers to get and keep their vitamin D levels up. This is simply because the economic benefits of doing so are so profound. Major illnesses have long been the biggest cause of financial crisis, a fact that proponents of nationalized health care have exploited well.

In truth, however, sensible sun exposure and vitamin D3 supplementation would do far more for our national health than the current health care bill. Even better, the benefits to society could be achieved without spending hundreds of billions of dollars. If an “Army of Davids” took it upon itself to spread the word, they could achieve what government is apparently incapable of achieving.

I realize, incidentally, that such bold claims probably inspire skepticism. They should, in fact, and I’m going to make even more bold claims. So allow me to make the necessary disclaimers and move on.

I’ve come to the conclusions I’ve written here because my job as a tech investment adviser requires that I survey thousands of the most recent scientific studies. In the last few years, an overwhelming flood of new evidence has been produced supporting the view that the medical and nutritional establishments have been fundamentally wrong about vitamin D’s physiological role and optimal dosage.

I’m not, however, going to hyperlink/footnote academic papers for everything I tell you in this article, though those studies exist with multiple redundancies. Nor will I try to explain the biological function of vitamin D, something better left to biologists. I will include a number of links at the end of this article to people and sites with far more credibility. They have journal articles online with voluminous footnotes.

I would encourage you, nevertheless, to verify even their information and act accordingly.

If researchers on the cutting edge are right, the benefits of raising your serum D levels to about 40 ng/ml are enormous. If they are wrong, the risks associated with the recommended therapy are trivial, if not nonexistent, especially if done through supplementation. This is simple Bayesian analysis.

If you do take my advice and perform further research on this subject, you will still encounter holdouts who assert that unprotected exposure to sunshine is always dangerous and that a normal diet supplemented by a daily multiple vitamin provides sufficient vitamin D. Behind the scenes, however, even the NIH is now looking for a face-saving way to change positions on vitamin D without taking too much blame for having resisted those who have urged reassessment for decades.

The stakes are huge, as are the benefits of attaining optimal vitamin D levels. The embarrassment for those who must admit past error, however, may be even greater. The reason is that untold millions have suffered and died prematurely because those who challenged the “settled science” regarding sunshine and vitamin D decades ago were treated like crackpots and demonized.

Now we know that very few people have optimal serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D], the principal form of vitamin D circulating in the blood. Moreover, those with more melanin manufacture less vitamin D in their skins, so they suffer disproportionately from diseases exacerbated by vitamin D deficiencies.

Dr. Michael Holick, the researcher most responsible for this radical change in thinking, has described the current state of widespread vitamin D deficiency as a “silent epidemic.” In a world inured to over-the-top predictions (polar ice caps will melt in just a few years, and sea levels will rise 20 feet), it is natural to treat the word “epidemic” as hyperbole. A quick Google news search finds the word associated with everything from methamphetamine use to concussions in professional hockey.

Vitamin D deficiency, however, is not one of these metaphoric “epidemics.” It is an extremely serious public health problem that affects virtually all diseases. To understand this change in thinking, we need to review briefly the history of vitamin D and our understanding of its function.

In the 1890s, the crippling bone-softening children’s disease rickets was still widespread in northern states, which has more pollution and a thicker ozone layer than the northwest. Ozone blocks the invisible component of sunshine, ultraviolet B, which produces vitamin D in the skin.

In the early 1900s, it was demonstrated that summer midday sunshine prevented rickets. As a result, there was an effort to educate the public and nearly everybody learned that a little sunshine was good for you. If you’re of baby boom age, your mother undoubtedly told you to “go outside and get some sun.” That’s why.

Ironically, the beginning of the end of this attitude came in 1923 when a means of producing dietary D was found. UW-Madison biochemistry professor Harry Steenbock discovered that the vitamin D content of milk and other organic substances could be increased with ultraviolet (UV) irradiation. This led to the widespread enrichment of milk and the near elimination of rickets. Slowly, the perception of sunshine as healthy began to fade.

For the most part, scientists lost interest in the biological role of sunshine for higher animals. Dr. Michael Holick was the notable exception. For the last thirty years, Holick has been gathering data, doing research, and studying the role of sunshine and vitamin D.

As a graduate student, Holick first identified the major circulating form of vitamin D in human blood as 25-hydroxyvitamin D. He then isolated and identified the active form of vitamin D as 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D. He determined the mechanism for how vitamin D is synthesized in the skin, and demonstrated the effects of aging, obesity, latitude, seasonal change, sunscreen use, skin pigmentation, and clothing on this vital cutaneous process. Too often, however, he was treated like a climate change skeptic at an Al Gore fundraiser.

Thanks to his work, we now know that D is not actually a vitamin. It is prohormone, meaning that it is a precursor form of a steroid hormone created by conversion in various organs. This active hormone acts to regulate multiple important biological functions. Every single cell in the body has a D receptor, even stem cells.

When I asked Holick what the source of his epiphany was so long ago, he explained that it was the simple fact that D is a critical nutrient without a natural food source. It is so important biologically that early humans could manufacture D even during famines.

For that reason, he questioned the conventional zero-tolerance approach to sun exposure that has held sway with dermatologists since the 1970s. Holick, a professor of dermatology himself, lost his teaching position when he published his findings. When he wrote a book on the subject, he was targeted by a well-funded PR campaign, aimed at debunking him, by the leading dermatological organization. Supposedly objective journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine, refused to publish his exhaustively documented research — research now accepted as both accurate and pioneering.

About five years ago, the vitamin D climate began to change. Of late, Holick has finally begun to get the recognition he deserves, and he now serves on multiple prestigious boards as well as advises the NIH. He is, incidentally, professor of medicine, physiology and biophysics at the Boston University School of Medicine. Holick is also director of the General Clinical Research Center, the Vitamin D, Skin and Bone Research Laboratory, and the Biologic Effects of Light Research Center at the Boston University Medical Center.

Holick explains that new breakthroughs in other areas have helped him make his case. With advances in computer processing and the decoding of the human genome, for example, it now appears that a remarkable 2000 genes are influenced by vitamin D.

In retrospect, it’s odd that the lessons learned from the northern rickets epidemic were not applied sooner to osteomalacia, which is essentially rickets of the aged. In fact, Dr. Holick and others have demonstrated that osteomalacia is preventable and treatable using vitamin D. Osteoporosis, another bone disease, is also related to lack of vitamin D.

That discovery alone is legitimately worthy of a Nobel prize. In Holick’s words, though, it is only the tip of the iceberg. Though Holick began documenting the connection between vitamin D insufficiencies or deficiencies thirty years ago, the scientific floodgates have opened in the last year or two. Word of this massive body of evidence has only really begun to permeate the scientific community in the last few months.

Optimal vitamin D serum blood levels, attained through sunlight or supplementation, dramatically reduce the risk of many diseases other than bone maladies. Many of the most serious are ameliorated by an astonishing 50 to 85 percent. These diseases include cancers, from breast and colon to deadly melanoma skin cancers.

Yes, that’s right. The really nasty skin cancers can be prevented by getting moderate, sensible sunshine or through vitamin D supplementation. Non-melanoma skin cancers do increase somewhat with sun exposure, especially with sun burns. These skin cancers, however, are relatively benign as they tend not to spread into other parts of the body. They are easily detected and removed because they appear on skin exposed to the sun.

Melanoma, on the other hand, is the deadly skin cancer that most people erroneously relate to sunshine. Melanomas, however, do not tend to occur on parts of the body that get direct sunlight. This not only argues against the notion that sunshine directly causes them, it makes them less likely to be detected. The bottom line, which is worth repeating, is that the incidence of truly nasty melanoma skin cancers goes down significantly with sensible exposure to UVB-containing sunshine or with vitamin D3 supplementation. Other effects of vitamin D improve skin tone in general.

This is not the end of the list, though. The big killers and most expensive diseases respond similarly to adequate D. I’m talking about hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and stroke. So do type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes (to a lesser extent), rheumatoid arthritis, peripheral vascular disease, multiple sclerosis, dementia, autoimmune diseases, and apparently even viral diseases such as H1N1 and AIDS.

I predict that other diseases will also be linked to vitamin D insufficiencies as more studies are performed. Even conditions such as autism and schizophrenia may be directly related to prenatal or infantile vitamin D deficiency.

Nevertheless, the NIH’s current recommended dosage for vitamin D supplementation remains basically unchanged since it was established to prevent rickets. In fact, the maximum safe dosage of vitamin D3, the preferred dietary form, is currently 2000IU. This is extremely unfortunate because it takes about a hundred IU to raise serum blood levels by 1 ng/ml in a healthy adult. To get into the optimal range, 40 to 60 ng/ml, one would therefore have to take 4000 IU daily. It would take even more if you were obese, are taking certain medications, or have one of a number of medical conditions that degrade or prevent the creation of usable D. The evidence, incidentally, is that 10,000IU is entirely safe.

I said above, half-jokingly, that it is too bad sunshine isn’t patentable. The reason the statement is somewhat true is that no one has a direct financial interest in pushing back against those who have maligned sunshine. Manufacturers of sunscreen contributed significantly to the impression that the sun’s rays were always damaging. This overuse of sunscreen, in fact, has been a major contributor to vitamin D deficiency. Of course, excessive sun exposure is bad. It is clear that sun burns, in particular, are very detrimental to skin health.

In moderation, however, it is a virtual panacea. Holick, incidentally, is a strong proponent of sunscreen use. He recommends using it on face and hands, which are constantly exposed to sunshine and on any part of the body exposed to sun after moderate, “sensible” exposure.

Supplement manufacturers would have an interest in promoting information about vitamin D deficiencies. They, however, are prevented from recommending optimal doses because of current NIH guidelines.

The anti-sunshine movement was bolstered significantly when the environmental movement began to blame thinning of the ozone layer on CFCs. This has never been proven, primarily because natural sources of ozone depleting gases far outweigh the man-made. Fred Singer, atmospheric physicist and professor emeritus of environmental science at the University of Virginia, points out that tropospheric chlorine (volcanoes, ocean spray, etc.) concentration is four to five orders of magnitude greater than than the CFCs that were blamed on ozone thinning.

Regardless, environmental alarmists focused specifically on the ozone layer’s blockage of ultraviolet B, the only part of the spectrum that creates vitamin D. UVB may, in fact, contribute to cataract formation, which is why you should wear sunglasses that block ultraviolet light. Environmentalists, however, exploited the connection to create a scenario of widespread blindness.

Al Gore’s 1992 book Earth in the Balance concluded that, thanks to the Antarctic ozone hole, “hunters now report finding blind rabbits; fisherman catch blind salmon.” The blind rabbits he referred to, incidentally, had previously been explained by Chilean authorities as the result of a pink eye epidemic.

Nevertheless, environmentalist influence over the media was virtually unchallenged at the time. Not only were CFCs regulated, fear of sunshine increased significantly. The cost in both health and money of “solisphobia” has been incredible. Consider this projection: Once the requisite low-cost vitamin D therapies are fully adopted, Americans could save $50 billion annually in direct and indirect costs of disease. This, in turn, would have a real impact on our total health care spending.

The impact on average lifespans is somewhat difficult to calculate because the numbers include both infant mortality and aging-related statistics, both of which are affected differently by vitamin D deficiencies. My opinion, however, based on discussions with experts, is that adults who treat the big killers with sufficient vitamin D could see average increases in life expectancies of 6 to 8 years.

For people with more melanin and therefore darker skin, the benefits would be even greater because they currently suffer far more from diseases caused by vitamin D deficiencies. African Americans and Latinos are descendants of people whose melanin counts developed to protect them from excessive sunshine near the equator, where UVB contents are much higher. African Americans in the Northeast are particularly deficient and, as a result, have much higher rates of diseases that are exacerbated by vitamin D deficiency.

This fact has obvious political ramifications as the usual suspects have attributed to institutional racism the differences between white and black life expectancies. The research now shows that the primary factor is the ability to manufacture vitamin D, which is particularly impacted at northern latitudes. On the other hand, the fact that people with darker skins generally choose not to tan may have played a major contributing role in health differentials.

On a flight to speak at an investment conference in Canada last year, I had a pile of academic papers spread out on my tray and the seat next to me. A black woman on the flight and I started talking and she asked me what I was reading. When I told her they were papers related primarily to new technologies that would significantly extend our lives in the coming decade, she grew interested.

Finally, she asked me what I believed the most important thing she could do now for her health. I told her to take vitamin D and work on her tan a bit. The silence that ensued was followed by laughter and the statement that, never in her life had anyone ever encouraged her to get sunshine. In fact, she had spent her life avoiding it, and her behavior was typical of her friends and family. This is a problem, though it can be ameliorated with supplementation.

Holick says that from Los Angeles south, UVB is present in sunshine year round though it is blocked by clouds. Even the palest among us will be unable to get sufficient UVB from sunshine in more northern latitudes. In Boston, for example, UVB is blocked by the angle of the sun November through February. Edmonton, Canada, has no UVB mid-October through mid-April. Young people can store enough D during summer months to make it through the winter. Older people cannot.

Many of the benefits of D, incidentally, appear rapidly. Holick and others who prescribe D in clinical situations report that patients often experience dramatic improvements in quality of life within months. Not only do hypertension and bone density respond quickly, the neuromuscular impact of D is such that many of those who experience body pains and muscular weakness are relieved quickly when their serum blood levels are adjusted. Depression, irritable bowel syndrome, and various other maladies can respond extremely quickly to the sunshine vitamin.

Before giving you the links I promised, I’d like to make a few general observations. One is that, in every age, much of the mainstream scientific establishment has considered itself to have achieved a final understanding of core scientific issues. It is also true that, in retrospect, it has never been the case. Science, rightly, is a process of discovery, not a set of established facts.

Recall one recent example of this authoritarian fatuousness: The government dietary establishment’s long insistence that “fats are bad.” My nutritional scientist wife told me decades ago that this was untrue. It took many years, however, before the importance of omega-3 fats was generally recognized. Remember when eggs, coffee, alcohol, and chocolate were bad for you?

Moreover, change and scientific progress continue to accelerate at an unbelievable pace. The next decade will see accelerating breakthroughs in world-changing technologies. They include stem cell sciences, misunderstood and mischaracterized by conservatives and liberals alike, as well as RNA interference, cellular engineering, nanoviricides and other life-extending technologies.

In the meantime, we need to always exercise skepticism toward “authorities” who tell us to simply trust their judgment regarding sunshine, diet, climate change, or anything else. It will become increasingly critical that we do our own research in the years to come as government has expanded into every aspect of sciences. At the same time, the sheer mass of legitimate discoveries is making it harder and harder for anyone to keep up.

The single best source of the latest information about vitamin D and sunshine, unfortunately, will not be published until April. It is Holick’s forthcoming book, The Vitamin D Solution: A 3-Step Strategy to Cure Our Most Common Health Problem [1]. In keeping with the conventions of my profession, I should tell you that I have no personal financial interest in promoting Dr.Holick’s book.

In the meantime, his website [2] will provide you with far more information than is included in this article. Another useful site is D*Action’s Grassroots Health [3]. This activist group includes leading scientists dedicated to increasing understanding of vitamin D.


Article printed from Pajamas Media:

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URLs in this post:

[1] The Vitamin D Solution: A 3-Step Strategy to Cure Our Most Common Health Problem:

[2] website:

[3] Grassroots Health: