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Dental Mercury Linked to Risk for Brain Damage

The following is reprinted with the permission of McClatchyDC

Dental group defends mercury fillings amid mounting evidence of risks

For decades, the American Dental Association has resolutely defended the safety of mercury fillings in the teeth of more than 100 million Americans, even muzzling dentists who dared to warn patients that such fillings might make them sick.

The Latest in the Effort to Bash Supplements

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, October 30, 2015

Big Names; Big Mistakes
Consumers Misled by Supplement Bashing

by Gert Schuitemaker, PhD (1) and Bo Jonsson, MD, PhD (2)

(OMNS, Oct 30, 2015) Big names: the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), arguably the most prestigious medical journal in the world. Plus, the New York Times. On October 14th, the latter mentioned: “Dietary Supplements Lead to 20,000 E.R. Visits Yearly, Study Finds.” It was a report of a study published in the NEJM with the headline: “Emergency Department Visits for Adverse Events Related to Dietary Supplements.”

Whoa! What is that again? Is there really something new and terrible about vitamin C or magnesium?

Naturally, it was time to investigate. First, a look at the original paper from NEJM, and a direct examination as to how the study was designed. [ http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsa1504267 ] This was a revelation in itself, which can best be explained as follows:

Let’s say someone is exercising Sunday morning and suddenly gets palpitations. Oh, he thinks, what’s going on here? A little bit frightened, and just to be sure, he decides to go to the E.R. He says: “Doctor, something is going wrong. I have palpitations.” The doctor examines him and asked about the circumstances. Then he learned that the visitor had used that morning a dietary supplement. Aha! That’s it! Dietary supplements! Suspicious!

There was not even one death caused by any dietary supplement in 2013, according to the most recent information collected by the U.S. National Poison Data System. [Reference at http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v11n02.shtml ]

This observational report is done by just the one doctor serving at that time. The data collection in this investigation can be considered as poor as well as subjective. It falls scientifically short. Moreover, as we already know, too many physicians 1) have little affinity for dietary supplements and 2) are virtually untrained as to nutrition and supplements.

But wait: there’s more

We continued by looking over the results section. We had already noticed that the researchers drew the conclusion that problems with dietary supplements were underestimated. Duffy Mackay, a spokesman for the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a supplement industry trade group, argued that the results showed that only 0.01% of all Americans demonstrated an adverse effect from dietary supplements. So he came to an opposite conclusion: the study highlighted how relatively safe supplements are given how many people took them. [Scroll down at http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/10/14/dietary-supplements-lead-to-20000-e-r-visits-yearly-study-finds/ ]

In the study, it was striking that the biggest segment of that 0.01% was 20 to 34 year olds who took energy products and weight loss products. They showed symptoms like chest pain, heart palpitations and irregular heart rhythms. What kind of supplements could these be? We are not aware that vitamin C, vitamin B3 or any of the essential nutrients show these types of adverse effects.

The most misleading part of the NY Times article’s headline is “leads.” It is important to distinguish causation from correlation, and guilt from association. – W. Todd Penberthy, PhD

Where, then, is the problem? Mainly so-called “supplements” containing alkaloid substances. In most cases caffeine, but also ephedra, already banned in 2004 by the FDA as a supplement, but still offered for sale via the internet. Therefore, a comparison with “energy drinks” is more apt than to label these products as dietary supplements. However, caffeine-laden drinks were for some reason not included in the study. Aside from both being available as tablets and capsules, caffeine and nutrients have very little in common. Caffeine is a (medicinal) stimulant; nutrients are part of the human metabolism which are necessary for maintaining proper health.

It is significant that neither the New York Times nor the original NEJM paper mentioned caffeine or coffee-extract. The researchers only mentioned ‘energy products’ and ‘weight loss products,’ not specifying the substances involved. In order to find out that the study mainly concerned caffeine, we had to get into a separate annex which was somewhat difficult to for the public to find, and only available via the website of the NEJM.

And what is in the future for unsuspecting consumers? The headline, “Dietary Supplements Finally Banned.”

It could happen. You can be sure the media will let you know when it does.

1. Gert E. Schuitemaker, PhD
Ortho Institute
Gendringen, The Netherlands

2. Bo H Jonsson, MD, PhD
Department of Clinical Neuroscience
Karolinska Institutet
Stockholm, Sweden

Nutritional Medicine is Orthomolecular Medicine

Orthomolecular medicine uses safe, effective nutritional therapy to fight illness. For more information: http://www.orthomolecular.org

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Editorial Review Board:

Ian Brighthope, M.D. (Australia)
Ralph K. Campbell, M.D. (USA)
Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D. (USA)
Damien Downing, M.D. (United Kingdom)
Michael Ellis, M.D. (Australia)
Martin P. Gallagher, M.D., D.C. (USA)
Michael Gonzalez, D.Sc., Ph.D. (Puerto Rico)
William B. Grant, Ph.D. (USA)
Michael Janson, M.D. (USA)
Robert E. Jenkins, D.C. (USA)
Bo H. Jonsson, M.D., Ph.D. (Sweden)
Peter H. Lauda, M.D. (Austria)
Thomas Levy, M.D., J.D. (USA)
Stuart Lindsey, Pharm.D. (USA)
Jorge R. Miranda-Massari, Pharm.D. (Puerto Rico)
Karin Munsterhjelm-Ahumada, M.D. (Finland)
Erik Paterson, M.D. (Canada)
W. Todd Penberthy, Ph.D. (USA)
Gert E. Schuitemaker, Ph.D. (Netherlands)
Robert G. Smith, Ph.D. (USA)
Jagan Nathan Vamanan, M.D. (India)
Atsuo Yanagisawa, M.D., Ph.D. (Japan)

Andrew W. Saul, Ph.D. (USA), Editor and contact person. Email: drsaul@doctoryourself.com This is a comments-only address; OMNS is unable to respond to individual reader emails. However, readers are encouraged to write in with their viewpoints. Reader comments become the property of OMNS and may or may not be used for publication.

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OMNS archive link http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/index.shtml

 

Yet Another Sneak Attack on Supplements from Blumenthal and Durbin

Courtesy of our allies at Alliance for Natural Health

This time it’s been slipped into a defense bill. Major Action Alert – Send Your Letter Now!

We suspected it would only be a matter of time before Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) launched his next broadside against supplements. Once again, Durbin and his allies, including Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), are pouncing on must-pass legislation and attaching last-minute amendments that would threaten Americans’ access to supplements.

The bill this time is the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), an appropriations bill to fund the military for FY 2016. The House passed its version of the bill in May. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) introduced what is called “an amendment in the nature of a substitute” to create a Senate version of the House-passed bill. The Blumenthal/Durbin amendments were introduced on top of the McCain legislation.

Because it is a defense bill, the Blumenthal/Durbin amendments pertain to the supplement use of the US armed forces.

There are three amendments.

The first amendment would require military electronic health records to include data regarding supplement adverse events experienced by servicemen and women. This type of information is already gathered by the FDA, which is much better situated to handle it than the Department of Defense. This additional data collection is redundant and cumbersome. In 2011, Sen. Durbin and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) asked the Government Accounting Office to review supplement adverse event reports (AERs). In 2013 the GAO completed its report—which overwhelmingly demonstrated that supplements are safe! Why in the world is Durbin following the same tactic that embarrassed him so completely two years ago?

According to the resulting GAO report, there were a total of 6,307 AERs reported to the FDA between 2008 and 2011—an average of 1,575 a year. At the time, we pointed out that this was quite a low number, considering the fact that about half of Americans—157 million people—take supplements. This means that one-hundredth of one percent of all supplement users ever experience any problems at all.

If Sens. Waxman and Durbin had cared to search out where the real danger lies for the American consumer, they wouldn’t have had to look very hard. In 2008 alone, there were a whopping 526,527 AERs for FDA-approved drugs, with 275,421 considered serious. Of course, the astonishingly poor safety record of pharmaceutical drugs is irrelevant if you have a vendetta against supplements, as Sen. Durbin and his allies seem to have.

The second amendment would require the Department of Defense to establish minimum requirements for members of the armed forces to report on their supplement use. Service people would be ordered to report what vitamins and supplements they take—which means they could easily be ordered to stop taking them! It is simply Orwellian to have members of the military report on their supplement use. What business is it of the government if a service member is taking vitamin D, or B12? Big Brother shouldn’t be able to reach into your toiletries kit or control what you tell your doctor—even on a military base.

The third and most troubling of the amendments would extend a currently existing policy which regulates certain supplements on military bases to require all supplements that are to be sold to members of the military at exchange stores or commissaries to undergo a third-party review for “recognized public standards of identity, purity, strength, and composition, and adherence to related process standards.” This may sound innocent, but it is anything but.

First, supplements must already, by law, hold to current good manufacturing practices (CGMPs), which require that that they be processed in a consistent manner and meet quality standards. Second, supplement companies will likely be expected to pay huge sums for this review. Only the biggest companies, many of them owned by Big Pharma, will be able to comply. Yet another government-created monopoly will be handed over to big drug companies.

In addition, once this regime is established, it will be only a short step to expand it to all US consumers, not just the military. Then the pharmaceutical industry will have what it really wants: control over the supplement industry. Many supplements will become drugs and soar in price while their availability is restricted. As with any monopoly, quality will also decline, because regulations are never a substitute for real competition involving new and small as well as old and large companies.

Supplements are incredibly safe and already fully regulated by the FDA and FTC. These amendments are misguided attempts to limit access and hamper individual health freedom.

The truth of the matter is that the current regulatory regime governing dietary supplements is working—which is why supplements have such a sterling safety record. In fact, our counterparts at ANH-Europe found that UK residents were about as likely to get struck by lightning as die from taking dietary supplements.

We’ve come to expect this sort of maneuver from Durbin and company: what can’t be accomplished through more conventional democratic means, they try to accomplish through sneaky, eleventh-hour maneuvering before the public can catch wind of it. This military appropriations bill has nearly 200 amendments attached to it, and not all of them will be discussed by the Senate. With your help, we hope to prevent the Blumenthal/Durbin amendments from ever being considered on the Senate floor. The natural health community has responded vigorously to defeat previous Durbin attacks against supplements: in one instance, our readers sent nearly 90,000 messages in less than twenty-four hours. The time has come again to make our voices heard on Capitol Hill to protect our access to quality dietary supplements!

Major Action Alert! Write or call your senators and urge them to stop the Blumenthal/Durbin amendments, which will take dangerous steps towards limiting consumers’ access to dietary supplements.

A vote can come any day – Please send your message immediately!

Experts Advise Taking Those Sodium Intake Recommendations With a Grain of Salt

Morton Satin wants you to eat your vegetables. He wants you to consume broccoli, carrots, cabbage – all the good-for-you greens, reds and yellows out there. But most importantly, he wants you to enjoy them so you will eat them every day. And that means you must add salt. Bring that salt shaker out of hiding and start enjoying your food again, is Satin’s advice.

Who is this maverick whose concepts on salt fly in the face of years of advice handed out by most all public health institutions?

You probably won’t be surprised to learn Satin is the vice president of science and research of the Salt Institute, the Virginia-based, nonprofit, salt-promoting trade association. But before you say “no wonder this man is promoting salt’” and go about your merry, low-sodium day, you should hear the rest of the story. It’s a tale that includes a large, isolated tribe of Indians in South America, some fancy footwork involving figures and the dire consequences of consuming too little sodium — which can include a significantly increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Satin, who was seemingly alone in his quest to set the record straight about salt, has recently been joined by other doctors and scientists who appear to have come “out of the closet” in response to a report issued this spring by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) at the request of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Almost all studies on salt up to a few years ago were myopically focused on a slight blood-pressure drop achieved by a low-sodium diet of “two to four points systolic,” says Satin, adding, “they don’t give you the numbers, they just say it reduces blood pressure.”

But the recent conclusions of this IOM expert committee that there is no scientific basis for the majority of people to work at keeping sodium intake below 2,300 milligrams a day, and that salt intake of, or below, 1,500 milligrams a day is a risk proposition for many, has pretty much thrown everything we’ve been told up to now about salt consumption out the window.

Dietary sodium expert Dr. Michael H. Alderman with the Einstein College of Medicine, called the conclusions “earth-shattering,” and was quoted by The New York Times as saying the health consequences of low-sodium levels are “…all bad things” and that “(a) health effect can’t be predicted by looking at one physiological consequence.”

Satin agrees, telling Food Identity Theft in a phone interview that “what’s happening is that a reduction in salt is ending up with more sickness and death than (for) people who are not on low-salt diets.”Hypertension myopia

What we’ve repeatedly been told, and what the American Heart Association still preaches, is that we should eat no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium each day, with an upper limit being bandied about of 2,300 milligrams a day.

Now admittedly, there are some people – a minority of the population – who are adversely affected by sodium and ought to be limiting their intake. But, according to Satin, there’s a specific test for that condition, and it’s not something on which to base recommendations for how a majority should eat.

So just where did the numbers on salt consumption originate? According to Satin, they are nothing more than mystical, contrived numbers picked by an IOM committee that, in effect, “made up a myth” about sodium consumption.

Those unsubstantiated figures are what’s known as the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for sodium — a set of documents for nutrients “that basically establish what should be the reference amount the average person should eat,” as Satin puts it. These DRI numbers for all major nutrients “morph” into the better known Recommended Dietary Allowances, or RDA, that you find on the Nutrition Facts panel that appears on every processed food product.

However, not having any “dose response studies” for sodium on which to base the RDA, the committee went by a rule allowing it to use what’s called an “adequate intake” – that is, one determined by analyzing a “healthy population” and seeing what it consumes.

And here’s where the story starts heading to bizarro land.

The low-sodium tribe with low longevity

It turns out that “healthy population” was a tribe of Indians living in the Amazonian Rain Forest called the Yanomami. Now these Yanomami, they don’t eat much salt at all, only around 500 milligrams a day, and they also have no problems with high blood pressure.

So in a decision Satin describes as “not based on any evidence,” an official RDA was set for sodium based on the habits of the Yanomami, but not at the 500 milligram level, as that was a ridiculously low number. Since “everything is better in threes, (they) arbitrary tripled it,” said Satin. “They didn’t make one single reference to a study to justify that figure, they just tripled it.”

For the upper limit amount of 2,300 milligrams, Satin’s guess is that the committee took the molecular weight of sodium, which coincidentally is 23, “a nice round figure” and used that.

While the Yanomami may not have high blood pressure issues, that’s not to say they are the picture of health. “What they don’t acknowledge is that there is no age-related rise in blood pressure because there is not much of a rise in age,” Satin said, pointing out that the Yanomami only “have a life span of 45 to 48 years.”

Those numbers, now firmly set in our minds as being the healthy way to eat, were immediately and widely accepted as they came from “one of our prestigious, great institutions,” said Satin. “So the World Health Organization throws their hat in, and all the other health institutions accept it. Nobody ever questioned it; it became entrenched. The people who did this thought they were doing good. The problem is that they are incompetent.”

When Satin first came to the Salt Institute in 2002 “knowing nothing” about the issue, he asked the ‘experts’ the $65,000 question: “Don’t we have any data on the historical usage and consumption of salt?” No, he was told, being further assured that never in history have people consumed so much of it. But Satin said he was going to find out. And he did.

The war on sodium from a military history perspective

Searching military records going back to the war of 1812, Satin found that rations for both soldiers and POWs contained twice the amount of sodium we now consume. Other data Satin has uncovered reveals that just about everybody in the world, with the exception of the Yanomami, are consuming a range of approximately 3,000 up to 5,500 milligrams a day of sodium – “regardless of culture, geographical location or economic status.”

Despite all the new findings the Food and Drug Administration and other government agencies have continued their war on sodium, especially related to the national school lunch program, although Satin says “they have slowed down a bit…they need to find an exit strategy.”

Satin describes what is going on in the school lunch program as ludicrous – “should you have this child eat a nutritious vegetable or salad with a touch of salt to make it palatable, or say ‘don’t eat salt’ and the kid doesn’t eat it at all.”

Satin, who says he is not fond of our processed-food-heavy U.S. diet or lifestyle, feels that if the government abandoned its narrow focus on the supposed evils of salt, it might be able to do more good addressing our miserable eating habits in general.

This whole issue, he adds, is much bigger than salt. It’s about “the way we manage science in this country.”

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Who’s Afraid of Supplements? “Do You Believe in Paul Offit?”

by Alison Rose Levy

The Medical Establishment’s “Favorite” Doctor and His Crusade Against Supplements and Alternative Medicine

Paul Offit’s new book and media blitz pretend to be objective, but really offer one-sided bashing of natural healthcare.

Dr. Paul Offit, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at? Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia? has authored a new book, Do You Believe in Magic? The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine (Harper, 2013 ). Now on the stump, he encourages thinking more critically about healthcare treatments. Too bad his is a one-sided view. And that his intended audience is unlikely to be convinced because health information has been increasingly available over the last 25 years. Nor do many physicians and prominent medical organizations subscribe to his views (although a few legislators do).

“People are systematically choosing to manage their own health in a way that is unprecedented,” points out James S. Turner, chairman of Citizens for Health, a health advocacy group with over 100,000 members. “The conventional treatments that Offit champions are often very helpful. The problem is that the industry has oversold them, and more and more people see that now.”

If Offit’s book had aimed to explore all health options even-handedly for their upsides and their downsides, it might have truly advanced the conversation about how to better health and lower healthcare costs. (And ranking below 16 developed nations across the lifespan and for all income levels, while stuck in the midst of a polarized debate over costs and coverage, the U.S. sorely needs that conversation.) But instead, in his book and media tour, Dr. Offit plays the predictable role of debunker, single-mindedly championing his own medical brand. Unfurling an arch skepticism about the use of herbs and other nutritional supplements, for example, Offit presents himself as the stalwart for science. But it’s instructive to see what happens when he encounters someone conversant with the health literature.

“Health at Gunpoint: The FDA’s Silent War Against Health Freedom”

What forces and interests direct the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and why is this out-of-control law enforcement agency working so hard to take dietary supplements out of our hands?

These are the central questions explored by Citizens for Health’s very own VP and Senior Policy Advisor, James Gormley, in Health at Gunpoint: The FDA’s Silent War Against Health Freedom, what we at CFH hope you will consider to be a groundbreaking book that brings into clear focus the silent war now being waged by the FDA against all of us:  American consumers.

Please view this new video about the book:

The FDA was established in 1906 to protect the U.S. public from misbranded and adulterated foods, drinks and drugs. While the original intent may have been honorable, over the years the execution of this mission has become tainted by lobbyists and money.

In Health at Gunpoint, James Gormley presents a history of both the natural foods movement and of this over-reaching Federal agency and examines how the agency has changed over the years. He then looks at the FDA’s most controversial decisions and the troubling reasons behind them.

Why did the FDA try to shut down the supplements industry by getting most supplements classified as drugs? Why did the FDA drag its feet on folic acid fortification while thousands of babies were born with devastating birth defects? Why did the FDA try to get life stages (such as pregancy and aging) and normal discomforts (such as headaches) classified as diseases? Why are irradiated and genetically-altered foods not labeled as such? Why does the FDA favor synthetic additives and dangerous drugs over natural ingredients and dietary supplements? Why did the FDA propose a guidance that would cripple the health food industry as we know it today?

Today, as in the past, the FDA is poised to make decisions that would have a major impact on the health of all Americans. Health at Gunpoint not only sheds light on what is happening, but also explains what you can do about it.

In many European countries, nutritional supplements are now available by prescription only. If you don’t think harmonization-friendly, anti-consumer, restrictions can be put in place here, you may be in for a rude awakening.

Health at Gunpoint will help prepare you for the coming fight!

In A Victory For Consumers, FDA Turns Thumbs Down On “Corn Sugar” Alias For HFCS

Thanks to Linda Bonvie, blogger for the Citizens for Health project Food Identity Theft, for the following post.

For the past several months, we here at Food Identity Theft have urged our readers to submit their comments to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on the Corn Refiners Association’s petition to allow the name “high fructose corn syrup” to be officially changed to “corn sugar.”

The last word on this hot-button issue has just come down from the FDA itself.  And it’s “no.”

The CRA will now have to quit referring to high fructose corn syrup, or HFCS, as “corn sugar,” which it has been doing these days at every opportunity, apparently on the assumption that its 2010 petition would ultimately be granted despite the overwhelming opposition of consumers.

But the FDA had other ideas – the main one being that sugar is defined as “a solid, dried, and crystallized food; whereas syrup is an aqueous solution or liquid food.” (Duh!!!) Or so the agency informed CRA President Audrae Erickson in a letter dated May 30 (Wednesday) and signed by Michael M., Landa, director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, which also states that “…your petition does not provide sufficient grounds for the agency to authorize ‘corn sugar’ as an alternate common or usual name for HFCS.”

While the Corn Refiners Association had ignored a letter last year from the FDA that asked them to stop using “corn sugar” as a synonym for HFCS, which Erickson did a total of 10 times in two TV interviews last week, the official denial of the name change should now make such substitution verboten in the CRA’s commercials and communications. (In fact, one can’t help but wonder whether her blatant and repeated flouting of the FDA’s directive finally spurred the agency to act on this long-standing petition).

The FDA’s rejection of the proposed name change also quite clearly reaffirms “corn sugar” as a “standard of identity” for dextrose (an ingredient with NO fructose) and declines the CRA’s request that “corn sugar” be eliminated as an alternate name for dextrose.

“We are not persuaded by the arguments in the petition that consumers do not associate ‘corn sugar’ with dextrose,” notes the letter. “The term ‘corn sugar’ has been used to describe dextrose for over 30 years.”  It further points out that “’corn sugar’ has been known to be an allowed ingredient for individuals with hereditary fructose intolerance or fructose malabsorption, who have been advised to avoid ingredients that contain fructose. Because such individuals have associated ‘corn sugar’ to be an acceptable ingredient to their health when ‘high fructose corn syrup’ is not, changing the name for HFCS to ‘corn sugar’ could put these individuals at risk and pose a public health concern.”

The latter concern has been raised in a number of the comments submitted to the FDA by members of the public, which ran against the petition 100 to 1. Most, however, expressed indignation over the idea that an industry group would try to attach a new, innocuous-sounding identity to an increasingly unpopular ingredient that so many consumers have been going out of their way to avoid in an attempt to make it appear to be something it’s not.

So confident were the corn refiners in the pending approval of their petition, that in a press release issued last week they said, “Transitional co-labeling, such as ‘Corn Sugar (High Fructose Corn Syrup),’ and CRA’s education campaign will ensure consumers are well informed about the name change.”

While the FDA may well have denied the petition of its own volition, one can’t help but credit the growing public outcry over this deliberate attempt to confuse consumers (which, perversely, has been presented as an attempt to eliminate consumer “confusion”) with having set the stage for this major victory over attempted food identity theft.

To read the entire FDA response to the CRA’s petition, click here.

Hostile Bedfellows Assail Vitamins

Part 2 of “Media May Kill Vitamins”  – Submitted as a guest editorial by Suzanne Jenkins, November 29, 2011

Over-the-counter dietary supplements are endangered as evidenced by ongoing attacks reported in the media. Currently Senator Dick Durbin and Congressman Henry Waxman are trying a new tactic to discredit dietary supplements after previous legislative failures by asking the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review adverse event report data for dietary supplements only, excluding the far more dangerous and numerous adverse event reports for drugs and vaccines. Since the media shapes public opinion, individuals and special interest groups that are hostile to dietary supplements will continue to use the media to discredit them and ultimately make them ineffective or unavailable to the public in the over-the-counter manner we enjoy now.

Two thirds of Americans take dietary supplements every day. A significant number of physicians take supplements and recommend at least a multi-  vitamin/mineral combination to their patients. Most supplement takers are well educated and have studied how to use good nutrition and dietary supplements to stay well or improve their health. The skilled choose a healthy lifestyle including a good diet, exercise, stress-reduction and targeted dietary supplements as their first line of defense to maintain and regain health, looking to drugs and the rest of the conventional medical model only when necessary.

Many retiring baby boomers are especially interested in longevity medicine — living healthier and longer by nourishing their brains and bodies in well thought out plans using foods and supplements to prevent or postpone dementia, osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc. It is the do-it-yourselfers that bypass conventional medicine’s “standard of care” as much as possible that are a threat to drug companies and government control.

The not-so-well-informed are easily frightened by the attacks on supplements. Many people are unaware of the behind-the-scene shenanigans by politicians and their alphabet agencies such as the FDA — entities that are supposed to protect the public. Adding to the confusion is media failure to provide the public with balanced information. What we have is mainstream corporate journalism devoted to official positions that encourage public fear and corporate greed to dominate the health care landscape.

When one sees an assault on dietary supplements it comes from the conventional arm of medicine – the arm that has established itself as the “standard of care” and the only care that is reimbursed by insurance. Of course, education and discretion in the arena of dietary supplements is necessary. One wouldn’t go into a pharmacy and start taking every drug in sight. The same applies to dietary supplements.  A good multi-vitamin/mineral preparation without iron (look for the GMP seal or its equivalent) is a good place to start while one is learning about the benefits and risks of more sophisticated applications.

When it comes to dietary supplements, a quick way for the public to determine which conflicting medical faction is vying for their allegiance is to look at the rhetoric and source of information. This is important because the media takes all of the health-related information it reports to the public from conventional sources, sources which officially promote that Americans get all of the nutrients they need from a good diet.

The ongoing attack on supplements boils down to money and control issues involving a multifaceted mix of players. In the U.S., the powerful pharmaceutical industry uses its money to influence policy. Politicians need money to fund campaigns for public office. News media, both printed and electronic, accepts advertising dollars from pharmaceutical interests, which makes it easier for media to look the other way instead of reporting on the influence of pharmaceutical dollars as a major source of problems in U.S. health care.

The scenario looks like this:

  • Over-the-counter dietary supplements are the primary source of competition for the pharmaceutical industry.
  • Americans spend $27 billion on dietary supplements; pharmaceutical interests want to re-route the money to their bottom line.
  • In order for the federal government and the medical industry to control health care completely, over-the-counter supplements must be banned or reduced to an ineffective dosage.
  • With Medicare spending projected to increase to $900 billion by 2018, the Feds are looking for ways to trim cost and dietary supplements are on the Feds’ radar screen as a cost-cutting measure, thus providing more incentive for pharmaceutical interests to gain control of supplements.
  • DSHEA (Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994) presents a problem for conventional medicine. DSHEA gives Americans the right to purchase safe, over-the-counter supplements in useful dosages.
  • The FDA is currently attempting to undermine and re-write DSHEA by re-defining the terms regulating dietary supplements in its new Draft Guidance.  NDI (new dietary ingredients) is a side door which provides an indirect way to decimate the dietary supplement industry by increasing the cost to manufacturers in the name of providing a higher degree of “safety” for products appearing on the market after 1994, resulting in increased seizure of products and driving smaller companies out of business.  The newer products which could disappear include supplements such as the Ubiquinol form of CoQ10, Resveratrol, Grape Seed Extract, Pycnogenol,  Alpha Lipoic Acid, N-Acetyl-Cysteine, Green Tea Extract, etc. Details may be found in the FDA’s “Draft Guidance for Industry: Dietary Supplements: New Dietary Ingredients: Notifications and Related Issues.”
  • On the international front, the U.S. signed the World Health Organization’s trade agreement, Codex Alimentarius, which may supersede the laws of the countries signing it. Countries not in compliance are considered holdouts and may not be allowed to trade. Codex has the potential to override our DSHEA if the FDA doesn’t undercut it first.
  • When pharmaceutical interests control the supplement industry, conventional medicine will control health care options.

A take-over of dietary supplements by conventional medicine will destroy the self-care/wellness care industry, reduce the quality of life for many, and result in premature death for people who depend on supplements to survive. This is especially true  where conventional treatments have failed but individuals have found a restorative combination of options beyond standard of care.

In the U.S., conventional medicine’s “standard of care” for health care is based on detecting disease, NOT on preventing it. Conventional doctors are trained to focus on symptoms, identifying and naming the disease, trying to match the drug to the name, and if drugs alone fail, then combinations of surgery, radiation, and drugs may be employed.

In conventional medicine, if there is no insurance code for a health issue, insurance will not pay. Insurance covers very little, other than prescription drugs, surgery and/or radiation, for a recognized health problem. Conventional medicine is a closed system wherein billions of pharmaceutical dollars influence doctors, osteopaths, pharmacists, hospitals, nurses, dietitians, nursing home facilities, insurance companies, research institutions, med school curriculum,  physicians continuing education, Medicare, government regulatory agencies such as the FDA, professional associations such as the AMA, National Cancer Institute, American Heart Association, etc., and politicians who set up the system and allow it to operate in the current manner.

Dietitians also want part of the action. In the state of Texas, registered dietitians (RD’s) petitioned the courts to recognize RD’s as the only legal source for dispensing nutritional information. So far, RD’s have lost their bid for exclusivity but the turf war is also flourishing in the field of nutrition. Fortunately, dietitians are beginning to question the influence of junk food purveyors and the results of overuse and abuse of pharmaceuticals experienced by their clients. You will know dietitians are making progress when foods in hospitals, nursing homes, and public schools are nutritious, delicious, and build health rather than destroy it. Up until recently, dietitians told the public there is no such thing as a bad food, only bad diets.

Quackwatch, an American non-profit organization, has the stated aim of combating health-related frauds, myths, fads, fallacies, and misconduct, according to Wikipedia. Most alternative treatments, including commonly used dietary supplements, are considered quackery on this site. Google “CanLyme, Quackwatch Founder Loses Major Defamation Trial in Hometown” and “Quackwatch Review” by Dr. Ray Sahelian, M.D.

An entrenched medical model built around disease is more profitable for those in control of the system, but it only represents half the deck. Limiting options places a strangle-hold on treatment plans available to the patient, especially in a hospital setting where malnutrition and acquisition of hard-to-treat super bugs like MRSA and C-Diff are common.

Conventional medicine is at its best in acute illness or trauma but doesn’t work well in treating complex, chronic disease because its primary focus is not on understanding the drivers causing the disease and working with reframing how the biology works, using raw materials that build health and removing impediments to good health. However, there are doctors who are becoming more open to modalities outside conventional medicine’s “standard of care” but it may take many years for a discovery to be accepted into clinical practice. People who are seriously ill do not have many years to wait for their physician’s enlightenment or for the system to reinvent itself.

The best health care option is called functional medicine, a patient-centered, science-based health care approach that integrates the best of both traditional Western and alternative or integrative medical practices. Functional and conventional medicine use the same concept of science but the difference is in the details and the application. Functional medicine involves understanding the origins, prevention, and treatment of complex, chronic disease using the continuum concept. There is a continuum from optimal health to hidden imbalance to serious dysfunction to disease. Intervention and reversal of the process can occur anywhere along that continuum, but the sooner it is addressed, the better.

Functional medicine creates a focus on prevention through nutrition, diet, and exercise; use of the latest laboratory testing and other diagnostic techniques; and prescribed combinations of drugs and/or botanical medicines, supplements, therapeutic diets, detoxification programs, or stress-management techniques. In the case of inflammation, conventional medicine would suppress it and functional medicine would focus on finding out why inflammation is happening in the first place and change the trigger causing the problem. For example, if an individual has a problem with gluten, a gluten-free diet would be used.

Practitioners of functional medicine look “upstream” to consider the complex web of interactions in the patient’s history, physiology, and lifestyle that can lead to illness. The unique genetic makeup of each patient is considered, along with both internal and external factors.

Functional medicine is a whole-system medicine; a GPS system that connects the the patient to the whole story of medical science by looking for and addressing upstream causes of downstream disease processes before they become debilitating or life threatening. Combining everything that works increases the likelihood of optimal patient outcomes at a lower cost to the system and the individual.

No American wants to be without conventional medicine’s crisis intervention in acute, life threatening situations but it shouldn’t be the only choice for chronic health problems that are managed best by an integrative approach.

The media needs to question conventional medicine’s obsession with the risk of taking supplements rather than with the value supplements provide to the knowledgeable consumer. Today, 50,000 Americans have no insurance to pay for U.S. health care, which is the most expensive and fragmented health care in the world. People need access to diverse, not restricted, health care options.

High tech medicine is only about 100 years old. Compare that to other cultures which have thousands of years of historical controls involving the use of diet, plants, and herbs to ameliorate health problems. Conventional U.S. “standard of care” health care is not the repository of all wisdom. For the media to allow itself to be used in the scheme to eventually deny the public access to safe and affordable supplements is a blow to wellness care and freedom of choice.

Media May Kill Vitamins

Submitted as a guest editorial by Suzanne Jenkins, November 20, 2011

What happened to the media that investigates and reports both sides of the story? The practice of denigrating dietary supplements and raising public concern over “safety” has been elevated to an art form by the media. Sound bites and articles with such titles as, “Vitamins May Kill Elderly Americans,” ignore the number of documented deaths caused by prescription drugs. Without both sides of the story, media is playing with half a deck – when this happens in oppressed countries, we call it propaganda.

The current rant over the safety of dietary supplements is really not about safety. Lack of “safety” is being touted as the main reason supplements are under siege. However, ignored by the media is the Adverse Events Reporting System (AERS) of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which contains over 4 million adverse events reported from 1969 to the present for FDA approved drugs. From 2000 to 2009, the FDA AERS received 370,056 reports of deaths and 2,345,066 reports of serious patient outcomes from FDA approved drugs, NOT from dietary supplements. Eleven years ago on July 26, 2000, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported that behind heart disease and cancer, ­­­­American medicine was the 3rd leading cause of death.

The study inspiring the media to create confusion, “Dietary Supplements and Mortality Rate in Older Women: The Iowa Women’s Health Study,” was observational and not the double-blind placebo gold standard with controls on every test component. Doctors and scientists know that an observational study based on a self-reporting questionnaire does not prove cause and effect – but the reader wouldn’t know that from a flamboyant title that indicates sensationalism is more important than substance. Studies like these look for clues that should then lead to further research. They are not designed to be used to guide clinical medicine or public health recommendations.

The value of using dietary supplements to improve the health of the elderly, as well as the health of other sectors of the population, has been confirmed in published studies. The Lewin Group is a health care consulting firm that does policy research and data analysis on Medicare, etc. In their study, “A Study of the Cost Effects of Daily Multivitamins on Older Adults,” the Lewin Group summarized that “given the available evidence, we conclude that daily multivitamins can be beneficial for older adults. Because suboptimal nutrient intake has been linked to chronic disease, the risk from not taking a multivitamin outweighs the minimal risks of taking one.”

Various think tanks have determined that a significant number of older Americans are deficient in vitamins and trace elements and could benefit from taking a multivitamin. A study entitled, “Effect of Selected Dietary Supplements on Health Care Reduction,” commissioned by the Dietary Supplement Education Alliance and updated in 2007, found that taking four specific supplements could reduce health care cost by over $24 billion.

Reviews supporting the use of nutritional supplements have appeared in both JAMA and The New England Journal of Medicine. Some people, due to age, genetic predisposition, environmental insult, lifestyle choices, disability, or disease, have a heightened requirement for dietary supplements.

Media cannot fulfill its obligation to the public when the only source of information considered originates from government, corporations that represent conventional medicine, or sectors that serve both. Media shapes public opinion about dietary supplements with information coming from entities representing only the conventional standard of care model. The Feds, pharmaceutical industry, and media make interesting bedfellows. What we have is mainstream corporate journalism devoted to official positions.

The purpose of thorough and unbiased investigational reporting is to empower the public to deal intelligently with information.  Besides knowing where and when a medical study took place, reporters need to ask critical questions and provide the people they serve with answers to the following:

  • Who funded the study?
  • What was the original purpose of the study?
  • What substances were tested (types and dosages)?
  • Did the research involve combinations of nutrients?
  • Was the research on isolated components only?
  • In the case of hormones, were they synthetic or compounded bio-identical hormones?
  • What type of study was it (observational or double-blind placebo)?
  • What was the outcome of the study?
  • Whose health stands to benefit from the outcome?
  • Who stands to profit monetarily from the outcome?
  • Were physician/researchers from ACAM (American College for   Advancement in Medicine) or other scientists without financial ties asked to comment on the study?

To connect the dots, the media has to recognize itself as a significant part of the health care problem in the U.S. Since the media shapes public opinion, special interest groups will continue to use the media to discredit dietary supplements and ultimately make them ineffective or unavailable to the public in the over-the-counter manner we enjoy now. Does the media want conventional medicine, with its heavy reliance on expensive physician-dispensed prescription drugs, to be the only game in town? Media must not offer a Trojan horse to a public that relies on it to be impartial and knowledgeable enough to report both sides of the story.

Petition Demanding that the FDA Withdraws the NDI Draft Guidance!!

We call on Congress to demand that the FDA summarily withdraws the NDI Draft Guidance and goes on the record stating that the agency will not, now or ever, review, consider, surveil or engage in enforcement activities according to the re-interpretation of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) evident in its Guidance document but, instead, will honor the law that the American people gave to the FDA (via Congress) to uphold via regulation according to both the spirit, letter, and plain and intended meaning of DSHEA.

That’s why we created a petition to The United States House of Representatives, The United States Senate and President Barack Obama, which says:

“I hereby join with Citizens for Health (CFH) and its over 100,000 citizen supporters in calling on Congress to withhold funding appropriations for the FDA until the agency summarily withdraws its NDI Draft Guidance and goes on the record stating that the agency will not, now or ever, review, consider, surveil or engage in enforcement activities according to the re-interpretation of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) evident in the NDI Draft Guidance, but, instead, will honor the law that the American people gave to that agency to uphold via regulation according to both the spirit and letter of DSHEA.”

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