Namekagon Notebook 

  By James Richard Bailey


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July 28, 2020


Misleading news about vitamins


I wrote this article nine years ago, when I complained about the perpetual cycle of vitamin supplement debunking every year at the start of cold and flu season.  At that time, like clockwork, the major media presented the results of a quasi-scientific study supposedly demonstrating that taking one multi-vitamin a day doesn't prevent cancer, heart attacks or Alzheimer's disease. No kidding!

But then they generalize a conclusion that there is no point in taking any vitamins at all. What they don't say is that even that measley little multi-vitamin is enough to prevent several deficiency diseases like scurvy and rickets. Scurvy is vitamin C deficiency, the first symptom of which is bleeding gums followed by loose teeth. Ask your dentist about that. Then there is folic acid, which prevents spina bifida in newborns.

Everybody knows that insufficient calcium leads to brittle bones. What they don't say is that without enough vitamin D, you can't absorb calcium. That's why it is included in all calcium supplements. Well, doesn't it make sense then that you can't properly absorb the calcium from food without the vitamin?

Don't tell me that vitamins are totally useless. And, don't tell me that you can get all the vitamins you need from an ordinary diet. Once again they trot out the "expensive urine" cliche. Here is a link to the study. Read it carefully and you'll see what I mean.

          Now, during the Covid-19 pandemic, you will notice that no mention is made in the mass media of vitamin suplementation as either a means of preventing infection by the pathogen SARS2 CV-19 or as a cure for the disease. Furthermore, in the United States, it is against federal regulations for supplement manufacturers to claim that these products prevent or treat any disease.

          At the end of the original article, I have posted links to major scientific studies in regard to prevention and treatment.             

Reprint from Oct. 19, 2011


They've done it again, and I just can't stand it. Last week the nightly news TV shows once more acted in concert to foist upon us a “study that suggests multivitamins may be bad for us”.

I'm used to this stuff. Every few months they trot out their running theme, reporting that efforts to bolster our health through the use of nutritional supplements are misguided, or even counter productive. It's the old “expensive urine” ploy.

This time they flaunted a study conducted at the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health in Minneapolis by postdoctoral researcher Jaakko Mursu of Finland. The 19-year effort involved questionnaire driven self-reporting of 41,836 women to determine the relationship between weight and chronic disease. As a secondary focus, the women were also questioned about diet and other lifestyle factors. It was not a study about vitamins per se.

So far, so good. Just like the population of all women, those who took supplements tended to be healthier, with less diabetes, more normal blood pressure, and less fat than women who didn't. But, here's where it gets tricky. More of the women who took supplements died during the study than those who didn't.

So the news mongers, whose TV shows are sponsored largely by pharmaceutical manufacturers and hospital conglomerates, interpreted this study as proving that multivitamins are bad for us.

Huh? How did they make that leap? They headlined their segments with bullet points such as “New study shows that multivitamins may lead to a higher rate of death in older women”, and “Vitamin use not recommended for older women”.

That's quite a leap for an interpretation of five questionnaires over 19 years. Its author at UW-Minnesota even said that “the women who took supplements were more likely to be sick from other causes, and died from their underlying disease”.

Did you get that? The study's author, Mursu, said that the research did not explore whether supplements contributed to the causes of death among the women. But that is sure how the evening network news shows made it sound.

Such limitations led some to question the significance of the findings. "I wouldn't recommend anyone change what they're doing based on this study," said Dr. David Heber, director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition. "It's very hard to conclude cause and effect."

What is important here is to pay attention to the spin that the brainwashing machine puts on this relatively minor study. Put it in context. I know, it's hard to see the forest for the trees, but this happens about four or five times a year where suddenly, all acting together, the major news sources come out with a big pronouncement about how nutritional supplements are a waste of time and money.

And, it's not just TV either. Take a look at some radio, newspaper, and on-line headlines:

  • Too much vitamins dangerous for women: studyWorldNews Network

  • Older Women Should Avoid Vitamins, Study FindsHuffington Post

  • Well Blog: More Evidence Against Vitamin UseNew York Times

  • Supplements Look Risky In Study of Older WomenNational Public Radio

This is how it is played in mainstream media. Anything that promotes health by way of increased nutrition is harpooned. Why? It is because this concept presupposes the idea that average, normal diets don't supply all of the nutrients we need for good health. The flip side of this is the idea that with better nutrition, we would need fewer prescription drugs and medical procedures.

When do you ever hear about trace minerals, for example? Never. You will not hear in the mainstream media about their role in health. It isn't rocket science. When vegetables and fruits are grown in natural, undepleted soil, they take up more than just nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (NPK), the common elements in fertilizer. They uptake more than 70 trace minerals like selenium, vanadium, boron, copper and so on.

What happens when crops are farmed on the same soil decade after decade with only NPK put back in the soil? The produce that we buy in grocery stores looks healthy. Great big green leaves of lettuce, huge onions and radishes, flavorful cabbages and cucumbers are all on display.

We are told by Dr. Oz and his fellow televised M.D.s that a plain old “good diet” with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables is all we need for good nutrition. Hmmm. Well, what about that?

Take a look at a bag of Science Diet dog food. It lists over five dozen trace minerals in its contents. Purina puts over 40 minerals in its lab rat feed. Every known vitamin is also included in those products. Yet there is no mention of trace minerals and vitamins as they relate to our health in any talk by the popular media about our diets.

Vitamins? Yikes! It is the old “expensive urine” argument all the way. If you take more than the government's Recommended Dietary Allowance (sometimes referred to as Recommended Daily Allowance) otherwise known as RDA, the talking heads say that you are just peeing money down the drain.

Let me relate a personal experience here. In 1973 I went on a college study trip to London, England with my fellow students in the Speech and Theater Arts program at Carthage College of Kenosha, Wisconsin. We went for a little over three weeks to attend plays, tour museums, and explore the castle and cathedral rich countryside.

The problem was that it was the year of the great London Flu Epidemic. Our trip, scheduled for January, was marred by the flu epidemic, which was so severe that the entire college was shut down before Thanksgiving of 1972, and did not re-open until nearly February.

About 30 of us flew over to London, accompanied by the Theater Department head, Dr. Tristram Shandy Holland. Pretty much everybody on the trip got very ill with the flu. Some were so bad that they were coughing up blood.

I, on the other hand, came through with flying colors. How did I do it? Well, I had recently become acquainted with nutritional therapy following a near-fatal car accident a couple of years earlier. I'd begun reading the works of biochemist Adelle Davis, author of the seminal work Let's Eat Right To Keep Fit. I took a number of bottles of vitamins with me on the trip.

Furthermore, when I became alarmed by the rampant illness among my friends, I struck out and found a local chemist's shop near our hotel. (The British call chemists what Americans refer to as pharmacists.) There I found the highest dose of vitamin C that they sold, a preparation of fizzing tablets containing 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C apiece. In America the legal limit is 500 milligrams per dose.

I took ten of them over a 24 hour period, one every couple of hours. That is ten full grams. After that I continued to take four a day. I never got even a little bit sick. Keep in mind, I was fighting the London Flu while in its epicenter.

I was also influenced by the work of Dr. Linus Pauling, the American chemist, biochemist, peace activist and author. He is one of only four people to ever win more than one Nobel Prize, and one of only two who got those honors in divergent fields: chemistry and peace prizes.

I call your attention to two of his many books. They are Vitamin C and the Common Cold, and How to Live Longer and Feel Better. The Nobel Prize winning biochemist was a firm advocate of high-dose vitamin C used orally for the promotion of everyday health, and of the intravenous use of huge amounts of vitamin C for the treatment of disease. In 1973 he founded the Institute of Orthomolecular Medicine in Menlo Park, California (later renamed the Linus Pauling Institute) to study the effects of what he called mega-nutrition. Pauling himself lived to be 93 years old. His institute is alive and well to this day.

My friends, we are entering a time when preventive health practices are finally being put to work by a sizable cohort of the population. Many fine health food stores can be found in towns large and small. Even the big box joints have a vast selection of vitamins, minerals and nutriceuticals.

Do your own research, starting with the three books I've mentioned in this column. Be forewarned, there is a lot of junk science out there that is bought and paid for by big pharma and the illness industry. They will always insist that vitamins are bad, and prescription drugs are good. Doctors will always promote expensive procedures and pills, pills, pills.

Even with my family's history of heart disease, I've never once had a doctor suggest that I take vitamins. Before my dad's open heart surgery in 1982 I tried to get him to take vitamins, but the doctors told him not to. He only lived three years after that surgery.

Meanwhile, the public perception of nutritional supplementation is fortified by corporate media as they did last week. Like the Pink Floyd song says, “All in all, it's just another brick in the wall”.

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ADDENDA ====>>

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Coronavirus Pandemic Update 83: High Fructose, Vitamin D, & Oxidtive Stress in Covid-19                                      [   ]