Tuesday, April 27, 2010

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Prevent Cavities and Anorexia: The Vitamin D Conundrum

Working together, vitamins C, D, B1 (thiamine) and B3 (niacin) prevent cavities and anorexia. If you're just looking for good doses to try, click here.

These four vitamins are special because they are the only four vitamins associated with named pandemic deficiency diseases. The four diseases are scurvy, rickets, beriberi, and pellegra.

Of these four vitamins, vitamin D is the most unlike other vitamins and is highly toxic in overdose. Vitamin D is nunlike other vitamins because it is not naturally obtained from food. Your body produces the most vitamin D in your skin when it is bare (no sunblock) and untanned and exposed to direct mid-day sunlight (not morning or afternoon sunlight).

Exposing the skin to direct mid day sunlight is easily accomplished. For many people, exposing the skin to the sun feels great. I would argue it feels so good because it is necessary for good health and is risky. That's the conundrum. Just a little bit too much time - just minutes in intense sunlight for the sun sensitive - results in a painful burn. Way too much sun causes lethal sunburn, and is reported to have been used as a torturous form of execution. Regular sun exposure accelerates aging of the skin and increases the odds of getting skin cancer. Although the skin cancers associated with sun exposure are rarely lethal, they are ugly and leave permanent scars when removed.

Faced with the obvious negatives of sun exposure accompanied by the obvious attractiveness of the sun, the medical establishment has naturally taken on the role of warning the public about the dangers of the sun. Since children (and many adults) naturally tend to get plenty of sunshine because it feels so good, there has not been too much concern about the possibility that great harm could be getting done by insufficient exposure to the sun. Vitamin D was an exception. All healthcare providers recognized the importance of this vitamin. The solution hit upon was to spike the food supply with vitamin D so that everyone would get enough from the diet and would not need to be concerned with getting vitamin D from the sun.

Here the vitamin D conundrum becomes painful. Nature can be very unkind. Vitamin D supplements are far more dangerous than vitamin D produced in the skin by the sun. There are no reports of serious vitamin D side effects from sun exposure. Side effects from regular doses of vitamin D above 2000 IU per day are an ordinary event. Very recent science has proven that regular sun exposure synthesizes 10,000 to 20,000 IU/day of vitamin D in the skin and results in high levels of vitamin D circulating in the bloodstream. At least 4000 to 5000 IU/day of vitamin D by mouth is required to achieve the higher levels of vitamin D achieved from sunshine alone, and daily doses of 10,000 to 20,000 IU/day by mouth normally cause acutely toxic blood levels well above what can be achieved by the sun. Again, it is impossible to cause highly toxic levels of vitamin D in the blood from sun exposure.

There is surprising controversy in the medical community concerning the toxicity of vitamin D supplements. I say surprising because the hard truth is that vitamin D is the active ingredient in a common rat and mouse poison. The poison or "bait" is made up of 1 part vitamin D added to 999 parts of a dry food that the target rats or mice find irresistable. For example, here's a link to Quintox Seed rat and mouse poison. Vitamin D supplements are toxic to humans too, and have caused nutrition boards headaches ever since the decision was made to supplement the food supply with vitamin D. To learn about the details of vitamin D side effects, read more here.

So - the hard truth is that vitamin D taken by mouth has different effects on the body than vitamin D produced naturally in the skin from sunshine. The harder truth is that excellent health and longevity is associated with regular sun exposure. It is highly likely that most people have to get regular sun exposure and age their skin in order to get the maximum benefits from vitamin D. It is also highly likely that sunlight catalyzes other important reactions in the skin, and that vitamin D is not the only healthy metabolic pathway reliant on the sun.

There's no one right answer for optimizing the use of vitamin D - hence the conundrum. It's especially beyond me to figure out how to devise policy to encourage parents and schoolboards to optimize the sun exposure of children. We need to start, however, by reaching a consensus about vitamin D. Are we, or aren't we, living amidst an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency of our own making. Does vitamin D from the sun prevent cavities and anorexia or not? If it does, are cavities an anorexia an epidemic or are they just an ordinary cost imposed by "necessary" evolutionary pressures from the environment (surely it is eutopian to imagine a society without strong evolutionary pressures imposed by the environment?).

Whatever one might think about policy, I think everyone agrees that access to unbiased, factual information about the importance of vitamin D is a human right. Dark-skinned immigrants to low-sunlight countries and cultures (submarine crews are an extreme) should be explicitly warned of the risks.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Prevent Chronic Illness: Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Niacin, and Thiamine

The scientific debate is over. The environment we live in strongly influences our health. The vaste majority concieved by parents in good health thrive when provided from the moment of conception with clean air, clean water, plentiful sunshine, and foods enriched in vitamins A, B, and C. Vitamins A, B, and C were given these bland names because they were discovered by processing of foods. Vitamins or "factors" A, B, and C were small components of food of unknown chemical structure proven to be vital for good health.

We live today in the midst of epidemic chronic illness. Dirty air, polluted food and water, insufficient sunshine, and inadequate vitamin intake remain the principal root causes. Health insurance does not provide individuals with incentives to breath clean air, eat and drink unpolluted food and water, get into the sun, and take extra vitamins A, B, and C. Medical institutions actively deprive patients and residents of sunshine and vitamin supplements. These same institutions are typically located in zones with poorer air quality. Mainstream medicine conducts elaborate, slow, and expensive tests on people. Testing genes is becoming a favorite activity because blaming genes is turning out to be an excellent method for marketing medical services. The test results are used to prescribe expensive pills and/or surgeries or other medical procedures.

Most people believe that exercise is necessary for optimal health. Most people intuitively believe that the optimal amount of exercise causes minor discomforts. Like vitamins, exercise has side effects. I don't believe that most people feel the same way about vitamins. The available scientific data strongly supports the notion that getting the most from vitamins requires managing minor discomforts. Vitamins are not like drugs. Drugs tend to cause harmful side effects that can cause pain and reduce life expectancy even when taken at minimal doses. We have learned from long, hard experience with drugs that side effects are dangerous. Vitamins A, B, and C, however, are not drugs. They promote health and longevity. Minor discomforts caused by side effects from vitamins A, B, and C are beneficial. They are your body's way of telling you that you are getting plenty without causing you any greater harm than discomfort.

The way to reform today's healthcare system is to reduce the demand for it. Don't let anyone fool you. Just because the air looks clean doesn't mean it is clean. Just because the food looks unpolluted, doesn't mean that it is unpolluted. Hydrocarbons, microscopic soot particles, and ozone are in the air. Heavy metals (e.g. mercury in fish, lead everywhere from generations of lead batteries and lead paint) are in food and water. We need to continue vigorous efforts to improve air quality and reduce exposure to heavy metals. We need to get out into the noontime sunshine, and we need to take supplements of vitamins A, B, and C.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Vitamin D: Sunshine or Pills - What's the Difference?

There are very few reliable sources of vitamin D in the diet. Typical diets - even many rich in fresh, whole foods including fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats - contain less than 100 IU of vitamin D. Most vitamin D is made by exposure of the skin to the sun.

In today's world, many people are living with minimal exposure of naked skin to the mid day sun. It's wonderful that vitamin D supplements are an option for these people. Supplements, however, might have different effects on the body than sunshine. What if, for instance, high levels of vitamin D in the skin activate genes that signal other organs in the body to make more or less vitamin D receptors? In other words, what if excellent health requires significantly higher levels of vitamin D in the skin than in other organs? What if pills preferentially build vitamin D levels in organs other than the skin?

Not nearly enough is known about the details of vitamin D metabolism. Mainstream medicine has overseen the deterioration of the health of the nation. More and more Americans are taking prescription drugs at younger and younger ages. Poor health in middle age is common. Don't believe for a second that the epidemic of chronic health conditions in middle aged people is due to poor genes. Just look at any identical twin studies - there are huge differences in health outcomes based on behavior and the environment. The single most important behaviorial and environmental factors are ample micronutrients, sunshine, clean air, and clean water - the fundamentals of nutrition. Yet doctors more often are experts in drugs, not nutrition. The most important nutrients are vitamins A, B, C, and D - the extracts discovered in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to contain constituents vital for health. I recommend that everyone study what is known about vitamins A, B, C, and D, and then make sure to get plenty of each of them. I recommend regular supplements of vitamins B1, B3, and C. Vitamin D is best obtained by getting plenty of sunshine.

Many readers will have some responsibility for the care of children. Thanks to computers and organized activities, kids are spending more and more time inside. With the best of intentions, children are behaving in ways that produce less and less vitamin D from sun exposure. It's time for adults to really think this through. Children have played near naked in the sun for millions of years. Today's children have plenty of health problems. More and more are taking prescription drugs. Are you sure that lack of vitamin D isn't a partial cause? Are you sure that vitamin D supplements in milk and multivitamins provide all the health benefits of sunshine? I'm not - so I'm making sure that the kids in my care know to get plenty of sun.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Prevent Cavities and Anorexia: Get Vitamin D from the Sun & Use Vitamin D Supplements with Care

Will historians view our time as one of mass suffering caused by epidemic vitamin D deficiency?

Surprisingly, there is a case to be made. Most people work indoors. Electronic entertainment works well at night and is ineffective out doors in the sun. Even exercising has moved indoors. Air conditioning keeps us indoors in the summer and heating keeps us indoors in the winter. Advertising teaches us that it is antisocial to be seen in public without looking good. These same social pressures teach us that old bodies should never be seen uncovered by clothing. There are fewer and fewer seniors sunbathing on the summer beaches.

Many people are trying to address vitamin D deficiency by taking vitamin D supplements. Many people are asking the question, "How much should I take?" I don't believe that there is even close to enough data to answer that question. Mainstream medicine is encouraging blood testing for vitamin D levels and is reacting to the test results with supplement dosage recommendations. I don't believe enough data is available to do a good job, and I am certain that physician supplement recommendations are doing considerable harm. If you don't believe me, go read the stories written in the comment section here.

The best way to get vitamin D is from the sun. Getting vitamin D from the sun is different than getting it from pills. Your body will self-regulate how much vitamin D is produced from sunshine. Getting vitamin D from the sun is natural and safer. Vitamin D supplements are neither.

Do we really live in a free society? Do we really have free will? Can you go in your back yard in full view of your neighbors in fully revealing swimware and lie in the sun? Can you go the pool and lie in the sun in fully revealing swimware? Can you lie in the sun in fully revealing swimware when visiting your family? If yes, can the seniors in your family do this too?

Many people are trying supplements instead of sunshine. Some of these will suffer vitamin D side effects and conclude that they don't need more vitamin D. For some, I suspect this will be a tragic conclusion.

Vitamin D supplements are empowering. When I'm attacked by an infectious disease, I use both supplements and sunshine to fight it off. I've experienced the discomforts of vitamin D side effects. I've found no evidence that vitamin D side effects cause any harm other than temporary discomfort. I have chosen temporary vitamin D discomfort over what I believe would be greater discomfort caused by waiting out an infectious disease. I believe we have an ethical responsibility to exchange the discomforts of infectious diseases for the discomforts of vitamin side effects. Walking around with an infectious disease harms others. Walking around suffering vitamin side effects does not. Vitamin D side effects are easy enough to manage if you know what to expect. To know what to expect, read more here.

Vitamin D is more important for your health than any drug. You can't optimize your health without choosing a dose. Humans are meant to get most of their vitamin D from the sun. Shockingly, there is no recommended daily allowance of sunshine.

Vitamin D is not available from unprocessed food. If you avoid the sun and eat what you grow, you will die from vitamin D deficiency. If you live naturally, then you have to choose a vitamin D dose by choosing your own dose of sunshine. If you choose minimal exposure to the sun, you place yourself at higher risk of immeasurable suffering from a multitude of diseases including cavities and gum diseases, cancer, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Worse still, caretakers choose for more than themselves. They choose for their children. I recommend just choosing sunshine and letting the children learn for themselves how much is too much.

Vitamin D is one of only four vitamins responsible for a deficiency disease. The other three are vitamin C, niacin, and thiamine. I recommend getting extra of all four of these vitamins. Extra for the average person is too little for some and too much for others. Just like everyone must figure out for themselves how much sunshine is plenty, everyone must figure out for themselves how many vitamin C, niacin, and thiamine pills are plenty.

Don't let anyone convince you that your health is predetermined by your genes. It is not that simple. Your choices play a huge role. The choices you make about vitamin D, vitamin C, niacin, and thiamine are particularly important. This site is here to help you choose wisely.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Prevent Cavities and Anorexia: Incredible Vitamin D Misinformation

Optimizing vitamins B1, B3, C and D prevents cavities and anorexia. Read more here. Prevention of cavities is associated with reduced risk of a whole host of modern chronic diseases including cancer, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Read more here.

Vitamins B1, B3, C and D are special because they are the only four vitamins associated with named vitamin deficiency diseases. These are beriberi, pellegra, scurvy, and rickets respectively.

A clear understanding of the state of knowledge regarding the clinical use of these four vitamins makes it easier for literature people to use them. Unfortunately, writings about vitamin D - even from the most authoritative sources - are filled with misinformation.

The misinformation from the mainstream medical community is largely one of omission. Overwhelming evidence has proven that the R.D.A of vitamin D of 400 IU is too low, yet the R.D.A. has not been raised. The R.D.A. really relates to vitamin D obtained from food. The mainstream medical community is largely silent regarding recommendations for generating vitamin D in the skin via exposure to sunshine. There are no warning labels about the dangers of sunblock, and the dangers coming from the multiple ways modern life results in inadequate sun exposure. For example, working night shifts, working underground, wearing a habit all the time, staying indoors all the time, and on and on. On the contrary, mainstream medicine warns people about the dangers of sunshine and markets sunblock lotions as safe and effective.

Mainstream medicine is also guilty of misdirection. Vitamin D is not a vitamin. It is not an essential nutrient. It is not necessary to eat any because vitamin D is produced in the body from ordinary food combined with skin exposure to direct sunlight. With few exceptions, humans evolved to produce vitamin D in their skin. Sunshine is essential for good health. Using pills instead of sunshine is asking for trouble.

Vitamin D boosters are doing a great job setting the record straight regarding the misinformation from the medical community. But vitamin D boosters are responsible for misinformation of their own. There is a reluctance to take the toxicity of vitamin D seriously. Here's a typical quote (read the whole entry here) denying the toxicity of vitamin D:

"Without evidence to support it, the board arbitrarily set the safe upper limit for vitamin D consumption at 2,000 IU/day. One can take a 10,000 IU vitamin D supplement every day, month after month safely, with no evidence of adverse effect. (Am J Clin Nutr 1999;69:842–856)."

Well that's just great. And even worse it's supported by an authoritative reference in a peer reviewed journal. Wonderful. There is overwhelming clinical evidence that daily vitamin D doses above 2000 IU cause side effects. I have written about this in detail here. My column on vitamin D toxicity attracted compelling testimony about the harm being caused by vitamin D supplements. Evidently I'm a very unusual scientist since I'm able to fully appreciate both the benefits and the risks from the use of vitamin D supplements.

Here's the second major piece of misinformation spread mostly by vitamin D boosters. It is claimed that there is inadequate solar radiation to produce vitamin D in the winter. The same article contains a typical quote:

"The majority of the world’s population now lives above latitude 35° N and is unable to synthesize vitamin D from sunlight for a period of time in winter owing to the angle of the sun. At a large solar zenith angle, ozone in the upper atmosphere will completely block UVB radiation. In Seattle (47° N) and London (52° N), from October to April UVB photons are blocked by the atmosphere so one’s skin cannot make vitamin D."

I can rebut this argument on first principles. If UVB makes it through the ozone layer in the summer, increasing the pathlength of the light through the upper atmosphere by less than a factor of ten (what happens in the winter), will not completely block the radiation. It may reduce the UVB by a factor of ten, or even a factor of 50, but it will not block it altogether. How much UVB is really needed? The objective is to produce just 25 micrograms of vitamin D. Getting out into the winter sun at noon in northern latitudes with the shirt off for an hour is highly likely to produce plenty of vitamin D. I'm not going to believe this nonsense until I'm provided with much better data. Amazingly, I've been unable to find good data on this subject.

Vitamin D is vitally important to health. It's long past time to increase funding for vitamin D research and to clear up all this misinformation.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Niacin, Thiamine, and Wound Healing: Fantastic Proof for Vitamin C

If your body is injured, there is much to gain and nothing to lose by getting extra vitamin C, vitamin D, niacin, and thiamine. There is strong scientific support for this assertion. With that said, in light of the large sums of money spent by the medical industry treating and caring for the injured, little is invested in careful scientific studies directed at further elucidating the role of the only four vitamins associated with named deficiency diseases (scurvy, rickets, pellegra, and beriberi respectively) in the healing of various types of injuries. Plenty of resistance to the idea that injured people will benefit from extra sunshine (more vitamin D) and vitamin C, niacin, and thiamine supplements remains. The quantity and quality of the scientific research has not yet convinced enough people to act. Medical professionals are more to blame than the rest of us, but they are, for the most part, not hypocritical. In fact, I expect that medical professionals are less likely than the average person to get the full benefit from these four special nutrients because medical professionals are more likely to follow the recommendations of their colleagues on the food and nutrition board.

Using vitamins optimally isn't easy. I've known now for many years that vitamins accelerate wound healing and have only recently discovered how to take advantage of my knowledge. I originally thought that taking supplements was the best I could do. I just didn't appreciate how practical and effective topical application can be. I am constantly subjecting myself to minor skin injuries - most often to my fingers. I keep a small bottle of ground up vitamin C and niacin tablets (80 wt% vitamin C, 20 wt% niacin) in the kitchen along with a tube of topical analgesic cream. When I get a minor burn or scrape, I rub powder into the injury with the cream and put on a band-aid. I have found this to be remarkably effective. Read more here.

I'm writing today's blog to call attention to a fantastically detailed study of the role of vitamin C in wound healing. The study was carried out by Hoffman La Roche - a leading manufacturer of vitamins. It looks to me like the study was carried out at the request of the fish farming industry. More likely than not, fish farmers discovered that adding alot of vitamin C to their feed was improving yields of fish. Adding vitamin C is expensive, and there was a need to figure out how to optimize the feedstock formulation to minimize the cost of bringing the fish to market. I place fish farming in the world of commodity manufacturing and healing injured people in the world of the service industry. These are two very different worlds which might partially explain the lack of attention that these results have gotten in the medical world.

OK. So here's the study. A large number of fish were divided into three groups - 20, 150, and 1000 mg vitamin C per kg of feed. Humans consume an equivalent of roughly 3 kg of food per day so these doses roughly translate to taking 60, 450, and 3000 mg of vitamin C per day in highly divided doses (in other words taking a small vitamin C supplement with every serving of food and beverage). All the fish were identically wounded (cruel - but not so cruel with fish) and the healing process was monitored with time. Here are the conclusions:

Conclusions: (1) dietary vitamin C intake influences the rate of wound healing in rainbow trout, (2) increasing the dietary level of vitamin C from 150 to 1000 mg AA/kg feed enables the establishment of larger pools of AA in various tissues, and (3) with larger tissue AA pools, the increased AA demand following wounding does not become a rate limiting step, thus healing may proceed more quickly.

To read the entire abstract, click here

A much less expensive study was done in the 1980's with a few rats. This study proved that very high doses of vitamin C dramatically accelerated the healing of wounded rat tails. The researchers found conditions under which treatment with high doses of vitamin C saved the entire tail of the rat, medium doses saved half of the tail, and doses associated with the vitamin C available from a normal diet (roughly 1 RDA) resulted in most rats losing their entire tail. The reference is "Spillert et. al., "Protective Effects of Ascorbic Acid on Murine Frostbite" in Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Volume 498, 1987.

Overwhelming evidence also supports the effectiveness of high doses of vitamin C for healing wounded skin, including an incredible double-blind trial using severely burned sheep. Read more here.

Similar studies are not going to be carried out with growing children. If scientific evidence from rats, sheep, and fish is insufficient to change the behavior of the medical industry, then scientific evidence is insufficient to cause the change and some other additional advocacy will be required before people get the full benefit of this knowledge.

I try to review all the vitamins studies I can find on the web - so I've seen alot of studies. I would like to see more studies on niacin, thiamine, and vitamin D and wound healing. For vitamin C, more studies will provide little in the way of additional knowledge because the evidence is already conclusive. While healing from injuries, it is useful to take as much vitamin C as you can and to use it topically as well. Read more here, and here.

While waiting for more studies, there is much to gain and almost nothing to lose (you half to learn to avoid or manage minor side effects) by also getting extra sunshine (more vitamin D), niacin, and thiamine.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Vitamins Prevent Pale Faces and Cavities and Therefore Prevent Pneumonia

Pneumonia is a major killer in the developing world, and remains a significant problem even here in the United States. Roughly 2 percent of the population suffers from pneumonia every year and it remains a leading killer of children under four and the elderly. An astonishing 8% of deaths in United States hospitals in 2001 were from pneumonia.

Pneumonia is caused by poor quality care that starts at home. Preventing pneumonia can almost be seen as a choice. Exercise, good food, and vitamin supplements prevent pale faces, dark circles under the eyes, and cavities. Read more here, here, here, here, here and here. Before choosing a doctor, or a school, or a town to live in, investigate the prevalence of pneumonia. In the nation's healthiest communities, the prevalance of pneumonia is near zero.

Unfortunately, healthy places/institutions are the exception rather than the rule. One reason is that many physicians don’t accept the importance of vitamin supplements. A more important reason is that an obviously effective vitamin cocktail has been slow to emerge. Serious respiratory infections almost always precede pneumonia, and pale faces, dark circles, and/or cavities almost always precede serious respiratory infections. The world's leading vitamin experts have only recently formulated the following vitamin cocktail featuring the vitamins associated with all four named pandemic vitamin deficiency diseases. The best time to try the cocktail is at the very onset of a respiratory infection or during the "lingering" period of a bad respiratory infection. Here is the cocktail:

25000 IU of vitamin A
6000 mg of vitamin C
4000 IU of vitamin D
250 mg of time release niacin
200 mg of thiamine

Most people who have tried this cocktail have reported it to be effective immediately (within hours). The doses are too high to take every day and are not recommended for more than three consecutive days. Our society is currently caught in a cycle of vitamin deficiency that requires the extreme action represented by this vitamin cocktail. Using this cocktail to prevent cavities, pneumonia, and anorexia will persuade unhealthy communities that vitamin deficiency is indeed epidemic.

There is no need to think about how, why, how much, or who. The vitamins in the cocktail are safe, inexpensive, and available in pharmacies, grocery stores, and from a multitude of internet retailers. Choose to try the cocktail and find out whether it helps you (and the children and elderly who depend upon you) or choose not to try the cocktail and to never know. No studies or theories, or textbooks can ever say with certainty that this simple treatment won't improve your health and the health of your dependents. No committees or double blind trials can settle the argument. Why wait for double blind trials and committee reports when for less effort you can just try the vitamin cocktail yourself. The choice is yours.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Prevent Pale Faces and Cavities: Getting Started with Vitamins C, D, B1 (thiamine) and B3 (niacin)

The healthiest 10% of children never need to see a doctor. Why aren't all children so healthy? I believe that genes and bad luck play only a small role and that closer to 80% of children could grow to adulthood without ever seeing a doctor except to repair wounds, broken bones, and other physical trauma. If I'm correct, we are living in a time of epidemic poor health amongst children. I've chosen to focus on just two conditions: pale faces and cavities.

To me, the cause of pale faces and cavities is deficiency of just four special vitamins - vitamins C, D, B1 (thiamine) and B3 (niacin). These four vitamins are special because they are the only four associated with named, formerly epidemic, deficiency diseases. The four diseases are scurvy, rickets, beriberi, and pellegra respectively. Wise use of just these four vitamins will prevent untold suffering.

When is the best time to start working to use these four vitamins to prevent deficiency in children? Far and away the best time to start is long before pregnancy. I don't believe anyone will argue with me when I say that the healthier the mother, the better the odds of a healthy baby. That said, there is shockingly little good data to draw upon. How can modern medicine devote so few resources to working out tests that predict the risk of a poor birth outcome before a women becomes pregnant? The truth is, young people who want to become parents (that's almost everyone) don't want to ask such questions. The reason I'm writing is that modern science (not modern medicine) has indirectly gathered alot of information. When admittedly abstract reasoning is applied using solid first principles of science, the importance of vitamins C, D, B1, and B3 is clear.

Many women of child bearing age are unhealthy. Numerous articles point out that taking pregnancy vitamins does not significantly improve the health of babies. From this, the authors typically conclude that vitamin deficiency is not a cause of unhealthy babies. Although logical, this conclusion is incorrect. Vitamin deficiency is the dominant cause of poor health amongst women of child bearing age. I don't want to argue this point. I want to test it. Getting the doses I recommend of just four vitamins - vitamins C, D, thiamine, and niacin involves little in the way of cost and effort and has negligible risk.

Poor health caused by chronic, marginal vitamin deficiency of vitamins C, D, thiamine, and niacin can not be corrected by taking prenatal vitamins during pregnancy. Preganancy places many unique demands upon a woman's body. It is unrealistic to expect a woman's body to become healthier during pregnancy.

The way to prevent pale faces and cavities in children is to get expectant mothers into excellent health. The place to start is with girls. The R.D.A.’s for children are too low. Children need a multivitamin, extra vitamin C, niacin, thiamine, and sunshine (vitamin D). Read more here. They need to learn to master the use of vitamins for themselves as young adults. They need to study and experience vitamin side effects.

Young adulthood is the best time to experiment with high doses of vitamins. The risk of permanent harm is negligible and young adults bounce back quickly from any side effects. It is particularly important to master vitamin C, sun exposure (vitamin D), niacin, and thiamine because they are the four special vitamins associated with the four named vitamin deficiency diseases: scurvy, rickets, pellagra, and beriberi. Mastery of these vitamins will result in excellent health for a majority of young women. When and if a young woman in excellent health decides to get pregnant, the conservative course of action is to reduce vitamin consumption to the tried and true levels in prenatal vitamins. The only exception is vitamin C. If a young woman has mastered vitamin C and settled on a daily dose above 2000 mg/day, she should consider continuing to take extra vitamin C at a dose of 1000 to 2000 mg/day, just below the UL of 2000 mg/day set by the Food and Nutrition Board.

Reliable reports from independent physicians working in several countries claim that vitamin supplements at doses significantly higher than contained in prenatal vitamins can prevent poor birth outcomes. These include birth defects, premature births, colicky babies, and difficult labor. The physicians making these reports typically had long term relationships with patients. The mothers they worked with were taking vitamins before becoming pregnant and were, as a result, in better than average health.

I want to emphasize that I am not recommending taking high doses of vitamins during pregnancy. Even doses of vitamins at the UL (the upper safe limit) are known to cause side effects for a small minority. The Food and Nutrition Board developed the R.D.A.’s by studying young adults in excellent health. This includes the R.D.A.’s contained in prenatal vitamins. To me, this means that if an expecting mother is in excellent health, prenatal vitamins will maintain her excellent health throughout the pregnancy and birth. Pregnancy is a time for conservative behavior. It is not a time to be experimenting with vitamin doses.

What I'm recommending is extra sunshine and vitamins for children and young adults. If you are a young adult reading this column and you are looking for a place to start, here is one:

Vitamin C – 4000 mg/day first thing in the morning
Vitamin D – ample sunshine in the spring, summer, and fall including full body exposure at least once/month. 1000 IU/day during the winter months.
Thiamine – 5 to 10 mg/day as TTFD in an enteric-coated tablet. It has to be TTFD and the tablet has to be enteric coated. Alternatively, purchase TTFD cream and apply 5 to 10 mg topically.
Niacin – take 250 mg time release niacin once per week

If you are a parent and are looking for vitamin doses for your children, read more here.

It’s time to work to prevent pale faces and cavities in children by building bodies in robust health. It’s time to start closing neo-natal care units, and winding down the production of the many medications used to treat children born pre-term. It’s time to take control of our health by taking full advantage of the wealth of knowledge about the nutrients that make us and keep us healthy. I can think of no better investment in the future than improving the health of the young women about to produce the next generation. If there are young women in your family who are not in excellent health, they have much to gain and nothing to lose by mastering vitamin C, sunshine (vitamin D), niacin and thiamine.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Prevent Cavities and Anorexia: Managing Vitamin D Side Effects

Working together, vitamins C, D, B1 (thiamine) and B3 (niacin) prevent cavities and anorexia. If you're just looking for good doses to try, click here.

These four vitamins are special because they are the only four vitamins associated with named pandemic deficiency diseases. The four diseases are scurvy, rickets, beriberi, and pellegra.

Of these four vitamins, vitamin D is the only one that is not really a vitamin and is highly toxic in overdose. Vitamin D is not really a vitamin because it is not necessary to obtain it from food. Your body produces vitamin D in your skin when your bare skin (no sunblock) is exposed to direct mid-day sunlight (not morning or afternoon sunlight).

Exposing the skin to direct mid day sunlight is easily accomplished. Unfortunately, it is not currently socially acceptable. Many people work indoors during these hours. If a weekend is cloudy, many people will not expose their skin to direct mid-day sunlight for two weeks. Instead of encouraging fresh air and sunshine, our society is pushing vitamin D pills. Unfortunately, unlike fresh air and sunshine, vitamin D pills are difficult to manage without side effects. Read more here. To manage side effects, common advice is to accompany pill taking with regular blood testing to maintain vitamin D levels in the blood within a "normal" range. This is perfectly good advice, but I'm sure I'm not the only one who would like another option.

So - here's another option. First start by recognizing that getting vitamin D from the sun safely provides large doses of vitamin D. Vitamin D specialists claim that untanned white people exposed to direct mid day summer sunshine produce 1000 IU of vitamin D per minute. There are no literature reports of vitamin D side effects caused by sun exposure. It is therefore wise to get as much vitamin D as possible from the sun and to recognize that if you take vitamin D supplements and suffer side effects, it is your own fault. You want the consensus optimal dose of 1000-5000 IU vitamin D per day and you are unwilling or unable to get it safely from sunshine. Sadly, not everyone can take 1000-5000 IU vitamin D supplements per day without side effects. If you take vitamin D supplements and experience side effects, don't blame the experts recommending vitamin D. The experts are correct. You need the vitamin D. Get it from sunshine and you won't have a problem.

I don't like blood tests. I don't like to give the blood, and I don't trust the labs, and I don't like the wide ranges. I want physical evidence of good health caused by vitamin D. I am using my dentist for help. Dental health is particularly reliant on vitamin D. Vitamin D alone will go a long way towards preventing cavities. Dentists have tools that measure the health of teeth and gums. These tools are used as a normal part of teeth cleaning. Read more here. The option I'm proposing is two or three dental cleanings a year and meticulous dental records. If your teeth and gums are in excellent health, then you are getting enough vitamin D.

Another option is to use vitamin D side effects to your benefit. A basic scientific truth is that benefits of vitamins and drugs increase with increasing dose forever. It is safety that limits doses. The optimal dose is the one that balances benefits and side effects. I believe that many people getting plenty of sunshine will find themselves unable to take 1000 UI vitamin D tablets without side effects. One 1000 IU tablet is known to be completely safe. In fact, the Food and Nutrition Board has declared a daily dose up to 1000 UI to be virtually without side effects. Most people who are vitamin D deficient can be slipped a 1000 IU vitamin D tablet and they won't notice. I believe that most people who are getting plenty of sunshine will be caused some discomfort if slipped a 1000 IU vitamin D tablet. If you fall into this group, this is a good option. If you get enough sunshine (which is without side effects) to sensitize yourself to one or two 1000 IU vitamin D tablets taken only once on a random day, then regular use of vitamin D supplements is not an option as it will cause acute toxicity. At this point, blood testing is irrelevant. If your blood levels were to come back low, there would be no safe action you could take. You know you are getting the maximum vitamin D you can tolerate.

We are living amidst an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency of our own making. We need as many options as possible to address this epidemic. In addition to vitamin D supplements and blood testing, it would be helpful to make regular exposure to the sun a more practical option and to measure success by good health (the elimination of cavities and anorexia). An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Niacin, and Thiamine During Pregnancy

I learned this week that 12 percent of babies in the United States are born pre-term. Apparently there is an ongoing epidemic of pre-term babies. Medical research pays well and attracts top talent. None-the-less, 12 percent of babies are born pre-term. I've been browsing the internet, and I'd say most of the articles I read did not clearly identify a cause or make any recommendations that are easily understood and implemented.

To me, the cause of this epidemic is obvious. Many women of child bearing age are unhealthy. Unhealthy women are at a high risk of unhealthy babies. Several articles I read pointed out that taking pregnancy vitamins did not protect against the risk of pre-term birth. From this, the authors conclude that vitamin deficiency is not a cause of pre-term birth. Although logical, this conclusion is incorrect. In fact, vitamin deficiency is the dominant cause of poor health amongst women of child bearing age. Poor health caused by chronic, marginal vitamin deficiency can not be corrected by taking prenatal vitamins during pregnancy. Preganancy places many unique demands upon a woman's body. It is unrealistic to expect a woman's body to become healthier during pregnancy. It is unwise for unhealthy women of child bearing age to have children. Of course, women are not going to admit that they are unhealthy and volunteer to forgo pregnancy. Despite poor health, they will continue to claim they are healthy, forge ahead, and perpetuate the current epidemic.

The way to prevent pre-term births is to get expectant mothers into excellent health. The place to start is with girls. The R.D.A.’s for children are too low. Children need a multivitamin, extra vitamin C, niacin, thiamine, and sunshine (vitamin D). They need to learn to master the use of vitamins for themselves as young adults. They need to study and experience vitamin side effects. Young adulthood is the best time to experiment with high doses of vitamins. The risk of permanent harm is negligible and young adults bounce back quickly from any side effects. It is particularly important to master vitamin C, sun exposure (vitamin D), niacin, and thiamine because they are the four special vitamins associated with the four named vitamin deficiency diseases: scurvy, rickets, pellagra, and beriberi. Mastery of these vitamins will result in excellent health for a majority of young women. When and if a young woman in excellent health decides to get pregnant, the conservative course of action is to reduce vitamin consumption to the tried and true levels in prenatal vitamins. The only exception is vitamin C. If a young woman has mastered vitamin C and settled on a daily dose above 2000 mg/day, she should consider continuing to take extra vitamin C at a dose of 1000 to 2000 mg/day, just below the UL of 2000 mg/day set by the Food and Nutrition Board.

Reliable reports from independent physicians working in several countries claim that vitamin supplements at doses significantly higher than contained in prenatal vitamins can prevent poor birth outcomes. These include birth defects, premature births, colicky babies, and difficult labor. The physicians making these reports typically had long term relationships with patients. The mothers they worked with were taking vitamins before becoming pregnant and were, as a result, in better than average health.

What I'm recommending sounds too good to be true. Perhaps one more fact will strengthen the case. It was reported this week that African American women are at significantly increased risk of delivering babies pre-term. African American women, on average, have lower levels of vitamin D in their bodies than lighter skinned Americans. Nature has been unkind to dark-skinned individuals in groups migrating north from the equator towards the North pole. Every population to migrate North turned white within just centuries. The selective pressure for white skin at Northern latitudes is dramatic. The reason for white skin at Northern latitudes is well understood to be vitamin D. And this is just one vitamin among many. Fortunately, only four vitamins prevent named pandemic deficiency diseases. It is highly likely that some combination of these four vitamins is responsible for more than 95% of vitamin deficiency.

I want to emphasize that I am not recommending taking high doses of vitamins during pregnancy. Even doses of vitamins at the UL (the upper safe limit) are known to cause side effects for a small minority. The Food and Nutrition Board developed the R.D.A.’s by studying young adults in excellent health. This includes the R.D.A.’s contained in prenatal vitamins. To me, this means that if an expecting mother is in excellent health, prenatal vitamins will maintain her excellent health throughout the pregnancy and birth. Pregnancy is a time for conservative behavior. It is not a time to be experimenting with vitamin doses.

What I'm recommending is extra sunshine and vitamins for children and young adults. If you are a young adult reading this column and you are looking for a place to start, here is one:

Vitamin C – 4000 mg/day first thing in the morning
Vitamin D – ample sunshine in the spring, summer, and fall including full body exposure at least once/month. 1000 IU/day during the winter months.
Thiamine – 5 to 10 mg/day as TTFD in an enteric-coated tablet. It has to be TTFD and the tablet has to be enteric coated. Alternatively, purchase TTFD cream and apply 5 to 10 mg topically.
Niacin – take 250 mg time release niacin once per week

If you are a parent and are looking for vitamin doses for your children, read more hereand here.

It’s time to work to prevent pre-term births by building bodies in robust health. It’s time to start closing neo-natal care units, and winding down the production of the many medications used to treat children born pre-term. It’s time to take control of our health by taking full advantage of the wealth of knowledge about the nutrients that make us and keep us healthy. I can think of no better investment in the future than improving the health of the young women about to produce the next generation. If there are young women in your family who are not in excellent good health, they have much to gain and nothing to lose by mastering vitamin C, sunshine (vitamin D), niacin and thiamine.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Can The Healthcare Industry Denial Machine Help Anorexia and Cavity Prevention with Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Niacin, and Thiamine?

As part of the healthcare debate, I hear regular interviews with healthcare industry representatives who claim that there is no epidemic of childhood mental health problems (autism, ADHD, eating disorders, depression....) and there is no epidemic of cancer. On the contrary, the apparent epidemic is really just a result of improved medical care. Today we have tests and treatments to make people healthier and as a result are diagnosing problems more frequently.



Do you have cancer? Aren't you pleased to know that if you had been alive 100 years ago you wouldn't have had cancer? Your symptoms would have been dismissed as normal aging! Three of four grandparents in my nuclear family have had cancer. One of them has had two separate types of cancer. Who is alive today without a parent or grandparent in the family with cancer? This is supposed to be a result of longer life expectancy and better detection? Nonsense!

Far more tragic, the epidemic of childhood mental health problems is relegating millions of children to a lifetime of reduced expectations. Marginally functional adults profoundly weaken our society as a whole. Many adults in my wife's family teach in the primary schools and many teach special education classes. The need for special education is stretching the resources of school districts nation wide. This is not about over diagnosis. Educators dislike labeling and segregating children and make every effort to keep children in the mainstream. Despite their best efforts, enrollment in special education classes is relentlessly rising.

Mainstream medicine has no incentive to call attention to this epidemic. Many kids in special education classes start taking multiple drugs early and provide a steady stream of income to doctors and drug companies for decades. The medical industry now depends upon a steady supply of these children to meet their payrolls.

Vitamins are not a reliable cure for cancer, childhood mental health problems, or many of the other epidemics associated with modern life. Most of these problems, however, are correlated with cavities. Vitamins do prevent cavities. Read more here andhere.

Don't believe medical industry spokesmen claiming that modern medicine is saving us from problems that we were doomed to have because of genetic vulnerabilities. The vast majority of individuals have fantastic genes entitling them to a long and healthy life. The problem is usually with diet and toxins in the environment. The most important components of the diet are the four vitamins associated with deficiency diseases - vitamin C, vitamin D, niacin, and thiamine. If you are looking for good doses to start with, click here.

Today's children are entitled to a long and healthy life unencumbered by drugs, tests, procedures, and doctor visits. If you're concerned about the health of children in your family, there is much to gain and almost nothing to lose by providing them with ample doses of vitamin C, vitamin D (from sunshine is safer than from supplements), niacin, and thiamine.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Can My Dog's Story Help Prevent Anorexia and Cavities with Vitamins?

Optimal doses of vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin C, and vitamin D prevent cavities and anorexia. Read more here andhere. If you are looking for good doses to start with, click here. Unfortunately, most readers believe this statement is too good to be true and will not change their behavior. As a result, the ongoing epidemic of anorexia and cavities continues.

So - maybe the story of my dog can help. Four years ago my (at the time 7 year old dog) was in poor health. Her knees were deteriorating and she had started on Prevacox - an arthritis medicine. She was having difficulting getting up and down the stairs. To address this problem, she had her right back knee operated on in 2006 and her left back knee operated on in early 2007. The operations provided substantial relief but she remained on Prevacox and continued to have trouble getting up and down the stairs. In late 2007 she had a cancerous growth on her face. It was a bad one. The dog oncologist insisted that she needed radiation. The vet felt multiple operations to remove the expected future growths were more humane. She weighed close to 60 pounds (at least 10 pounds overweight) and we were instructed to reduce how much we fed her to get her to loose weight. At this point I put her on the vitamins that I recommend for the children: 800 IU vitamin D, 1000 mg vitamin C, 125 mg time release niacin, and 100 mg of thiamine. I gave her this dose every day for 3 months. The result was astonishing. I took her off the Prevacox and she stopped having problems getting up and down the stairs. The energy she had when she was a puppy returned. The vets will back me up 100%. Four months ago she came down with a bad case of intestinal disease. As a result, the vet recommended we put her on an egg and rice diet while she was on the medication she needed. I did so. She improved dramatically but still had soft stools when the medication was completed so I kept her on the egg and rice diet. As the days went by, some voice inside me resisted returning her to her regular dog food. I kept her on the egg and rice (and vitamin) diet. Over the course of 8 weeks, she lost 10 lbs. She is now leaping in and out of our Honda CRV and trotting up the stairs. These two simple changes - adding vitamins and switching from dog food to egg and rice have reverse aged my dog. She is now 11 - old for a dog her size - and is in far better shape than when she was 6.

There is no question that the only significant change in my dog's life was the vitamins and the switch to egg and rice. She lives in the same house, takes the same walks, lies around in the same spots. The life of a dog just isn't very complicated. I (and my family) know what happened and why, and so do both vets who take care of her and the four assistants who work with them.

Why is this relevant? It's hard to believe that lack of vitamins and a poor diet can really be the root cause of cavities and anorexia. My dog's amazing recovery from multiple problems (bad joints, cancer, and obesity) proves how effective vitamins can be. My "prove it isn't true" list is limited to vitamins and cavities. Bad joints, cancer, and obesity aren't on the list because the evidence that vitamins are effective for these three problems isn't compelling yet. Lots of people with bad joints, cancer, and obesity try vitamins and don't get better. My dog's case is also relevant because it shows just how hard it is to create change even when presented with overwhelming evidence. It also shows how easy it is to be bamboozled by commercial interests.

How on earth did we all get persuaded to feed our dogs commercial dog food from cans and bags? Eggs are terrific food for carnivores like dogs. What do you think is better food for a dog - fresh eggs or that dry stuff that's stored in a bag a room temperature for months at a time? But everyone feeds dogs from the bag. Not feeding dog food to a dog just doesn't feel right. There are no adds on TV encouraging you to feed your dog wholesome foods like fresh eggs. There's no profit to be had teaching people to find wholesome real foods for their dogs. Instead, industry is trying to extract a steady revenue stream from your dog and get your dog on pills and commercial dog food. Commercial advertising has a powerful influence upon us. Few readers will change upon reading my words and the health of dogs will suffer. If people won't switch commercial, manufactured dog food for fresh eggs because of social pressure created and reinforced by advertising, they certainly won't feed their dogs the vitamins I recommend - an unheard of behavior.

Wholesome food and vitamin supplements for children and dogs will become the norm - I just don't know when. At some point the behavior will nucleate in a community and spread quickly as the large middle ground of followers will do what they do - follow. When they do, the prevalence of cavities and anorexia (and many associated illnesses) will drop dramatically. There's much to gain and almost nothing to lose by trying vitamin C, vitamin D, thiamine, and niacin.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Prevent Joint, Neck, Knee, Back Pain- Headaches, Migraines, Tingling, Numbness: Vitamin C, Niacin, Thiamine, and Vitamin D

For many middle aged people, vitamins will prevent debilitating chronic pain. The four most important vitamins are those that prevent scurvy, beriberi, pellegra, and rickets: vitamin C, thiamine, niacin, and vitamin D respectively. If you are just interested in good doses, click here.

I've been shocked to learn how many middle aged people between 40 and 60 years of age contend with chronic pain that restricts activity. People stop taking hikes that involve climbing hills. They stop playing sports. They stop lifting heavy objects. I'm sure they stop hundreds of activities that don't immediately spring to my mind. Our health system tells us this is a normal part of the aging process. I just don't believe it. All around us we see the healthiest 20% continuing with the most brutal contact sports throughout middle age. Those that restrict activity typically tell themselves they have bad genes. This is true. For the specific environment they live in, they have bad genes. What's different about living now, however, is that we have unprecedented control over the environment. We all know that we are what we eat, and that diet has a greater influence over health than any other aspect of our environment. Vitamin C, niacin, vitamin D, and thiamine are the four most important components of our diet.

The farming industry and governments spend billions each year on R&D to improve food crops. The seeds planted on fields around the world have terrific genes. These seeds, however, have terrific genes for the environment they are designed for and no other. Just falling off the edge of a field dooms seeds with the most outstanding genes to a short, miserable life followed by a slow and painful death.

If you are between 40 and 60 and restricting your activities because of chronic pain, the odds are high that it is because of what you have been eating over the years. A simple change in diet that eliminates any chance of subclinical deficiency in vitamin C, niacin, thiamine, and vitamin D is highly likely to halt the steady intensification of the chronic pain you are experiencing. For a more fortunate, substantial percentage, the chronic pain may prove reversible and restricted activities may be resumed.

Vitamin C is the most popular vitamin supplement. None-the-less, there is still widespread deficiency. Niacin, because of side effects, is an unpopular supplement causing widespread deficiency. Along with many other beneficial properties, niacin and vitamin C speed wound healing. Read more here. Unpublished, unproven clinical data strongly suggests that the side effect threshold for vitamin C and niacin rises dramatically when the body has serious wounds to heal. Optimal use of vitamin C and niacin for many people requires departing from the notion of a steady daily dose. Extra vitamin C and niacin speeds recovery from illnesses and injuries. The most remarkable example of this is the use of incredible doses of vitamin C to treat life-threatening burns. Read more here.

We are in the midst of an epidemic deficiency of vitamin D. Vitamin D is not meant to be obtained from the diet. It is meant to be obtained from sunshine. Many aspects of modern culture have cut us off from sunshine. The vitamin D council tracks all the benefits of vitamin D. To learn more about vitamin D side effects and strategies for optimizing vitamin D intake, read more here.

We are also in the midst of an epidemic deficiency of thiamine (vitamin B1). This obscure vitamin prevents the deficiency disease beriberi. It is difficult to absorb thiamine rapidly and distribute it throughout the body, so supplements are surprisingly inert. 100 mg tablets are imperceptible. There are no obvious benefits or side effects. Thiamine appears to be particularly important for nervous system health, and modern medicine lacks practical methods to test nervous system health. That said, thiamine deficiency is the proven cause of beriberi, and reports from hundreds of clinical trials attest to its usefulness.

If you are between 40 and 60 and gradually restricting activities that the healthiest of your acquaintances continue to enjoy, there is much to gain and nothing to lose by adding more thiamine, vitamin C, vitamin D, and niacin to your diet. The best way to set expectations is to strive to stop, rather than reverse the decline. There's no problem hoping to reverse the decline and to resume activities, but it's far more important to prevent the further restriction of activities. Nothing stops the march of time.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Prevention of Cavities and Anorexia: Dosing Options for Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Niacin, and Thiamine

Science has proven that vitamin D, vitamin C, niacin, and thiamine in generous doses prevents cavities, pale faces, and anorexia. Read more here, here, and here. The studies that generated this knowledge typically used constant daily doses. In practice, this may not be necessary or even optimal. There isn't enough scientific information, and may never be, to determine optimal dosing strategies. There is no question that the optimal dosing strategy will be different from person to person, time to time, and place to place.

So - what are the options?

The doses of vitamin D, niacin, and vitamin C that typically cause side effects when taken every day are well known. Read more here, here, and here. based on the The UL's are set by recommending a fractional dose of doses known to routinely cause side effects. Roughly twice the UL of 2000 IU/day of vitamin D will cause side effects in most people. Roughly 10 times the UL of 35 mg/day for niacin will cause side effects in most people. Roughly 5 times the UL of 2000 mg/day of vitamin C will cause side effects in most people.

So - what happens when taking these vitamins once/week? Is this OK? Can you take 7 times the UL defined as a daily dose once per week? (e.g. 14000 IU of vitamin D once per week?) What happens if you take these four vitamins at well above the UL only when you feel unwell (say several times per year?). How much can you take then without risking side effects? How much is enough to avoid deficiency? Again - the answer is going to change from person to person.

In my experience, children don't like the daily dosing strategy. They would rather take higher doses less often. When my teenage children and their friends are fighting colds, they have started taking the following dose:

6000 mg of vitamin C
4000 IU of vitamin D
250 mg of time release niacin
200 mg of thiamine

They tend to take this dose typically once or twice, and rarely three times in the course of a week. Then they don't take it again until the next time they feel like they may be getting a cold. I'd prefer to see the kids taking this dose once or twice a month whether or not they are fighting a cold. However, I also wouldn't be surprised to learn that just six to ten doses of this size per year in addition to the vitamin D gotten from sunshine and all four vitamins gotten from food gets the kids most of the benefits of daily doses of these four vitamins at near the IU. This teenage strategy also is individual. The kids who get the most colds take more vitamins than the kids who get the least.

Teenagers also are responding favorably to the logic that vitamin C and niacin have healing properties. Read more here, and here, When they are hurt (sore muscles, bruises, cuts, scrapes, etc), they are happy to take shots of 4000 mg of vitamin C and 250 mg of time release niacin for several days until the wounds are well-healed (typically one to 7 days).

Finally, teenagers respond favorably to getting sunshine without sunblock. People of all ages enjoy the wonderful warm feeling of the sun on bare skin. They all understand that sunblock is unnatural, and understand why using sunblock would endanger the natural ability of the body to regulate vitamin D.

The science is clear. Easily accessible doses of just four vitamins - vitamin C, vitamin D, niacin, and thiamine - prevent cavities, pale faces, and anorexia. There is much to gain and almost nothing to lose by helping children learn the best options for getting plenty.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Cavities and Anorexia Prevention: Dentist's Revolutionary Preventative Medicine

For many people, especially children and the elderly, a good diet isn't sufficient to maintain excellent health. What's often missing is one or more of the four vitamins responsible for named human dietary deficiency diseases. These are vitamin C (scurvy), vitamin D (rickets), niacin (pellegra) and thiamine (beriberi).

Unfortunately, it is difficult to feel these four vitamins working. People feel the same with or without supplements. There are no obvious benefits. There are, however, obvious side effects at doses above the upper limits (UL's) set by the Food and Nutrition Board.

Getting out into the sun regularly with minimal clothing and taking vitamin supplements requires considerable effort. People need an incentive.

Many people with bad teeth fear the dentist for good reason. Cleaning sensitive teeth, filling cavities, extracting teeth, and operating on gums is painful and expensive. People with bad teeth have an incentive to improve the health of their teeth.

A good diet and optimal doses of vitamin D, thiamine, niacin, and vitamin C prevent cavities. Read more here. If you're just looking for good doses to try, click here.

Dentists are revolutionizing preventative care by bringing digital monitoring tools into their offices. They are regularly using three analytical tools: x-rays, lasers, and photographs. The laser is a fantastic new tool that measures the density of the tooth and detects surfaces in teeth that are vulnerable to cavities before they form. My dentist has an electronic file full of photographs, x-rays, and laser measurements of my teeth.

If you don't get extra vitamin D, thiamine, niacin, and vitamin C, the odds are high that problems will develop with the teeth as they age. These problems are accurately quantified by the dentist's tools. Optimal doses of vitamins will stop many of these problems and the measurements provide the proof.

Cavities prevention is more important for children than for adults. Cavities are associated with other health problems. Children with cavities are at elevated risk. The most common risks are reduced height, weight, speed, endurance, and intelligence. They are also at higher risk of disease.

The vast majority of children should never get a cavity because cavities are caused by vitamin deficiency. Today, dentists can detect vulnerability to cavities in the teeth of children before operable cavities even emerge. Parents who respond to the data with vitamins will find that the progression of a tooth from vulnerable to a cavity to actually having a cavity can be halted.

Cavities are an early warning of general poor health. The painfulness of cavities may turn out to be a blessing. Fear of cavities may motivate people to take vitamins in a way that no amount of lecturing can. Fear of cavities, and the dental tools developed to monitor and treat them have the potential to dramatically reduce the prevalance of the many epidemic conditions associated with cavities. These include anorexia, sleep apnea, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

If you or the children you care for don't regularly see a dentist, I recommend reconsidering that decision. I recommend finding the best dentist in town and separately tracking the health of each tooth with x-rays, laser scans, and photographs. Vitamins are not for everyone. The lucky few will live 100 years without vitamin supplements and with perfect teeth. The unlucky few will have bad teeth no matter what they eat and what supplements they take. What's important to you is your own health care. What's important to you is whether taking vitamins helps your teeth (or the teeth of your children). Your dentist will help you take control. Take the supplements and go to your dentist to track the health of your teeth. The data speaks for itself.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Wound Healing with Vitamin C and Niacin

Extensive scientific data has proven that high doses of vitamin C and niacin speed wound healing. Read more here.

As a result of the science, I've changed my behavior. Vitamin C and niacin are now central to my first aid efforts. Niacin is now available as a cream. Whenever I get a scratch, scrape, slice, or minor burn I treat the wound with niacin and vitamin C creams. The expensive creams are really nice and I find them worth the extra money. However, I don't believe they are necessary. I also treat wounds with crushed niacin and vitamin C tablets. I rub the powder into the skin around the wound with water, antibiotic cream, or any other kind of appropriate cream. I've been doing this with bruises, pulled muscles, and aching joints as well. My daughter pulled muscles in her neck last weekend. I bought the anelgesic cream from the pharmacy and used it to run in niacin and vitamin C powders. Rubbing niacin powder into an aching joint is nice because the niacin causes the skin it is rubbed into to flush which brings a soothing warm feeling to the injured area. I can imagine that some people would feel discomforted by the flush. They should use the niacin cream which releases slowly over time and does not cause flushing.

Vitamin C is commonly used by people suffering from a cold. I believe that much of the benefit is from accelerated wound healing. The cold virus injures lung, throat, and nasal tissues. Anything that speeds the healing of these tissues reduces the duration and severity of the infection.

Topical application of vitamin C and niacin is virtually risk free. I've written previously that vitamin C and niacin injections into wounded tissues will likely prove to be the optimal treatment for many types of serious wounds. I've never tried this on myself, and hope never to have a reason. I fully understand the reluctance of individuals and physicians alike to experiment with injections. Topical application, on the other hand, is a no-brainer. Short term ingestion of high doses carries a greatly reduced risk of side effects compared to high doses taken on a daily basis. There is much to gain and as close to nothing to lose as possible to making vitamin C and niacin central players in first aid.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Prevent Cavities and Pale Faces: Grandparents & Vitamins C, D, Niacin, & Thiamine

Vitamins play a vital role in growth and development. It is a long and perilous journey from an egg and sperm to a healthy adult. Many of the instructions contained in human genes are used only during growth and development. Like all genes, the specialized genes involved in growth and development often depend upon vitamins to complete their designated tasks. As a result, children need vitamins for more tasks than adults.

Vitamins were discovered in the early 20th century and have only been readily available since the 1950's. Since that time, the use of vitamins has grown steadily. More and more people are taking vitamins regularly. Of the available vitamins, only vitamin C, vitamin D, niacin, and thiamine prevent named deficiency diseases (scurvy, rickets, pellegra, and beriberi respectively).

Sadly, many children aren't getting the extra vitamins they need. There is no substitute for grandparents. Grandparents embody the wisdom of the community and maintain a special interest in the welfare of little children. Go to any drug store vitamin isle, and see for yourself that grandparents are the chief consumer of high potency vitamin supplements.

It's time for grandparents to take a more active role seeing to it that the children in their families get the same benefits from vitamins that they do. I understand the concerns for safety. That's why this blog is here. The supplements I recommend for the children are the most important four, and the doses I recommend are safe. Grandparents reading this blog can proceed with confidence.

Prevent cavities, pale faces, and anorexia. Take an active role in caring for children. Read more here. If you take vitamin C, niacin, thiamine, and vitamin D - see to it that the children in your family take them too. Questions? Feel free to write and ask.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Vitamin D and Obesity: Sunning and Running Prevent Obesity

The weight of an animal is not under conscious control. This would be a bad evolutionary design. The case that anorexia (extreme weight loss) is caused by vitamin deficiency is strong. Read more here. Young women who take vitamin supplements do not become anorexic. There is also a strong case to be made that vitamin deficiency is an important cause of obesity. Read more here and here.

Weight is largely controlled by the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind, in response to the environment, selects a target weight within the range of normal. Regular intense aerobic activity lowers the target weight.

Vitamin D has been hypothesized to be involved in weight regulation. It has already been proven that vitamin D has hormonal functions. I believe it is only a matter of time until a role for vitamin D in weight regulation is proven.

Vitamin D is produced when cells just beneath the surface layers are exposed to ultra violet radiation from the sun. Regulation of sun exposure is yet another important body function that is not under conscious control. Regular sun exposure causes skin pigmentation that reduces the amount of sunlight penetrating the outermost layers of the skin. Absence of regular sun exposure causes the skin to loose pigmentation. The available evidence suggests that evolutionary selection acts rapidly to optimize skin color in response to the local environment. All human peoples migrating from the equator to the poles evolved white skin within generations. This is a powerful argument for paying close attention to vitamin D.

Since the skin produces vitamin D, subconscious signals encourage sun exposure. Most people enjoy the feeling of being out under the sun, and are attracted outside when the sun shines for the first time after a number of cloudy days. There are equally powerful subconscious and conscious feelings preventing overexposure to the sun.

In modern times, consumer services have emerged that cater to the feelings that draw us to the sun. Sunblock lotions allow us to lie in the sun indefinitely, enjoying the luscious warm feelings (unlike any other kind of warmth). Tanning salons also allow endless hours of warmth and create a healthy-looking tan. Unfortunately, both sunblock lotions and tanning lamps block the production of vitamin D, and must be used with caution.

Intense excersize indicates a ecological need for fast motion. Fast motion is facilitated by lower weight. It makes good sense that the subconscious weight control system would adjust down the set weight in response to even short bursts of intense exercise (research indicates that just 10 to 20 minutes, two or three times a week may be sufficient).

We are in the midst of a modern obesity epidemic that has been clearly linked to the western lifestyle. Sun avoidance is part of that modern lifestyle. We dress for work, work indoors, and increasingly play indoors. More and more of life occurs after sunset plugged into the network or watching TV or movies. Airconditioning drives us indoors when it is hot, and heating drives us indoors when it is cold. As a result we are in the midst of a vitamin D deficiency epidemic. It therefore also makes good sense to link obesity with vitamin D deficiency.

It is difficult to optimize vitamin D by taking supplements. Vitamin D supplements cause side effects. Read more here. Higher doses of vitamin D can be gotten from the sun without risk of side effects. If it isn't possible to get into the sun, vitamin D supplements work, but require vigilant attention to side effects.

Sun and exercise are enjoyable, safe, and effective components to prevent and treat obesity. As with many vitamin deficiency diseases (anorexia is a particularly painful example), obesity is more easily prevented than cured. It is much more effective to instill these healthy habits in children and adults of a healthy weight than to instill them in already obese adults. Don't let the failure of this advice to work for already obese adults to convince you that these common sense habits aren't important for preventing obesity.

So, think "RUN and SUN" for the prevention of obesity. There is much to gain and almost nothing to lose by adopting these healthy habits.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Prevent Cavities and Pale Faces: Safe Doses of Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Thiamine, and Niacin for Children

The safety of vitamin D, vitamin C, niacin, and thiamine for adults is extremely well understood. Supplements of these four essential nutrients have been around since the 1940's. All four are sold without child proof caps because there is no lethal dose. Regular use in high doses causes side effects. Millions of adults have used all four of these supplements in doses 10 to 100 times the RDA for extended periods of time. A small fraction of these have become ill and provided reliable and reproducible information of their experiences to their physicians. These reports are collected by the Food and Nutrition Board and converted into safe upper limit doses (UL's). The Food and Nutrition Board specifies that the RDA's will protect 97-98% of the population from deficiency diseases. I could not find what statistics are used for the UL's and will assume a similar reasoning. The UL's are probably doses that 97-98% of the population can consume on a daily basis without side effects.

I argued in a recent column that if vitamin dosing was managed the same way as drug dosing there would be no difference between the UL's and the RDA's. Read more here. Like drugs, the benefits of vitamins are well understood to increase with increasing dose. Everyone should take supplements of the most important vitamins to ensure that they receive close to the UL - the maximum dose that can be taken without risk.

An important task of vitamin C, vitamin D, niacin, and thiamine is to catalyze the growth and development of an egg and sperm into a healthy adult. Read more here and here. Many functions of these vitamins are unique to growth and development. As a result, children are at much higher risk of deficiency than adults. Children are not at higher risk for catastrophic deficiency disease. They are at higher risk for loss of potential. Subtle vitamin deficiency can cause a loss of height, intelligence, muscle strength, endurance, toughness.... When thinking about nutrition, we must think about our children first. Just as importantly, when thinking about our children, we have to think about safety first. This is why I'm unhappy about the way the Food and Nutrition Board has handled the UL's for children.

Vitamin C, vitamin D, thiamine, and niacin are the only components of the human diet that cause deficiency diseases so widespread and dreaded that they earned names. Vitamin C prevents scurvy. Vitamin D prevents rickets. Niacin prevents pellegra. Thiamine prevents beriberi. I recommend that mothers take the UL's of these vitamins before conception and switch to the lower doses in pregnancy vitamins when actually pregnant. Once the baby is born, I recommend they return to the UL's of these four vitamins and breast feed the baby. Once the baby is weaned, I recommend taking vitamin C, vitamin D, niacin, and thiamine at the adult UL's. Specifically, thiamine has no UL's because there are no statistically significant reports of side effects at any dose. Since it is so safe, I recommend children take two 100 mg tablets per day (once in the morning and once in the evening). Vitamin D can be obtained from the sun in doses above the UL for supplements with no known risk of side effects. Parents should see to it that their children get regular mid-day sun exposure from the moment they are born. It goes without saying that parents and children must manage the risks of sun burn. So for two of the four vitamins I recommend for children - thiamin and vitamin D - the safety of my advice is unquestioned.

My problem with the Food and Nutrition Board is limited to vitamin C and niacin. I recommend that weaned children start out with 2000 mg/day of vitamin C (the adult UL) twice a day (vitamin C is purged from the body in less than 12 hours). I recommend that weaned children take a 125 mg tablet of time release niacin twice per week (this averages 35 mg/day, very close to the adult UL of 30 mg/day). For both these vitamins, the Food and Nutrition Board has conservatively decided to scale the UL roughly with body weight. Very few children take vitamin supplements. All children taking vitamins are closely supervised and are at a much lower risk of overdose. As a result, vitamin overdoses among children are almost unknown. I'm very sceptical that the Food and Nutrition Board has collected a statistically insignificant number of reliable reports. I do not believe that the Food and Nutrition Board is using real overdose incidents to set the UL's for children. I believe they are using a paradigm used for drugs. The assumption is that optimal doses are proportional to body weight, and do not change with growth and development. This is a very bad assumption for vitamins and children. Again - children need more vitamins because in addition to maintaining the health of existing cells, vitamins are need to catalyze growth and development. Vitamins are essential tools nature uses to convert egg and sperm into strong adult minds and bodies.

After intensively studying the safety and effectiveness of vitamins, I arrived at a working hypothesis that optimal vitamin doses are nearly independent of age from birth through adulthood. This hypothesis served me well with my own children, and the children in my small clinical practice. If anything, after more than 15 years of practice, I'm concluding that the UL's probably increase with decreasing age. I can only think of one incident of a minor side effect with a child less than 5 years old. I can think of dozens of incidents with older children and teenagers.

The UL's are invaluable information. I have high confidence in the adult UL's set by the Food and Nutrition Board. I have little confidence in the rest. When UL's for children as a function of age are set based on statistically significant, reliable information, I will respect them. The data is the data. In the meantime, I strongly recommend that parents and pediatricians consider supplementing weaned children with vitamin C and niacin at the adult UL's.

If your children are in excellent health, this may be a difficult decision although even this I find a bit illogical. The risk being run is of experiencing fully reversible side effects while the risk of not supplementing is reduced height, intelligence, strength, endurance..... If your child is not in excellent health ( just a single cavity is a sign of sub-optimal health, and vitamins have proven ability to prevent cavities) then there is much to gain and little to lose.