In response to Gianna Kali's post today, here's my two cents worth on the subject of vitamin supplements. I agree and I don't agree, and I think we both can agree that it depends on the situation.
Being a skeptic myself, I leave a large space in my head for the thought that pharmaceutical companies, who have enormous amounts of money to spend on "information dissemination" or "disinformation," are understandably concerned that the public is turning more and more to vitamins instead of going to their doctors and asking for prescriptions. Doctors should also be concerned about this. It is in pharma's best interest to trash the benefits of unpatentable vitamins. A study here, a study there that claim that vitamins do not hold up to scientific "rigor".
That being said, vitamin supplements are big business, too. I have written about this elsewhere in my blog where I refer to it as the tyranny of vitamins. At one point Chris was on thirty-five different supplements per day, a very restricted diet, and he still landed back in the hospital. (Demonstrating to me that the mind, once again, is superior to matter. All the vitamins or medications in the world won't work if the mind is in shut down mode.) Thirty-five vitamin supplements per day is unsustainable.
I agree with Gianna that the body may need vitamins from time to time that it may not need long term, and that a healthy diet is of course, what we all should be ingesting, and I also believe that there are certain conditions that need heavy artillery to be brought in. Readers of this blog already know that I consider B3/niacin and vitamin C essential. For vitamin E, I'll use my own father as an example. The other day I came across a book on vitamin E by Wilfred and Evan Shute that he had taken the time many years ago to put in its own dust jacket. That's how important the advice in that book was to him. He had been a heavy smoker for years and finally was had a by-pass operated for a blockage in his leg. The circulation in that leg plagued him the rest of his life, making walking difficult for him. My mother found out about the results that the Shute brothers clinic in London, Ont. was having with vitamin E and they paid a visit. He was on 800 IU of vitamin E for the next thirty years of his life. He was ecstatic about the general feeling of well-being and energy that Vitamin E gave him. The damage had been done on the leg, walking on it would be always be difficult, but the vitamin E really boosted him enormously. I experience the same energy boost from vitamin E and have made it one of my basic vitamins.
So, in this case, I do take issue with the Healthy Skeptic (not surprisingly, a doctor), who quotes this study by the NIH which raises this rather strange allegation:
High-dose vitamin E supplementation increased the risk of death from all causes.
Andrew Saul, creator of http://www.doctoryourself.com/, has an answer to the charges that vitamins in high doses cause death. "Where are the bodies?" Please take a look at this page. It's an eye-opener.
Over a twenty-seven year period, vitamins have been connected with the deaths of a total of eleven people in the entire United States. Poison control statistics confirm that more Americans die each year from eating soap than from taking vitamins.
Where are the bodies?
A 27-year review of US poison control center annual reports (1) tells a remarkable and largely ignored story: vitamins are extraordinarily safe.
These statistics specifically include vitamin A, niacin (B-3), pyridoxine (B-6), other B-complex, C, D, E, "other" vitamin(s), such as vitamin K, and multiple vitamins without iron. Minerals, which are chemically and nutritionally different from vitamins, have an excellent safety record as well, but not quite as good as vitamins. On the average, one or two fatalities per year are typically attributed to iron poisoning from gross overdosing on supplemental iron. Deaths attributed to other supplemental minerals are very rare. Even iron, although not as safe as vitamins, accounts for fewer deaths than do laundry and dishwashing detergents.
Our only defense is to know what works for us, to be skeptical of competing claims, and of course to eat foods as close to their natural source as possible.