The REAL reason your doctor doesn’t like vitamins
I know it’s been a few months, but that New York Times supplement-bashing article (“Vitamins: More May Be Too Many”) is still keeping me up at night. And I figure, as long as I’m up, I might as well do some research to support my–our–position. So when I came across a pro-vitamin article from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to fight fire with fire. The JAMA review article was actually published last year, but old news is still good news when it comes to defending vitamins’ reputation–especially when that news involves a major mainstream publication basically reversing its negative stance on supplements. Well, sort of…
The JAMA article was written by two researchers from that bastion of vitamin bashing and sugar promoting, Harvard Medical School. They reported that, according to their review of the scientific literature, vitamin supplementation is of benefit to those at risk for chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and osteoporosis. These days, that covers just about everybody. In fact, the researchers came right out and said the unsayable: “We recommend that all adults take one multivitamin daily.”
It sounds like a coup for the alternative health world, but keep in mind that the article was addressed to doctors, not patients. In what JAMA calls its “Patient Page,” advice for doctors about what to tell their patients, the daily multivitamin advice is barely mentioned. Instead it says: “The best way to get vitamins is from whole foods–fruits, grains, vegetables, dairy products, and lean meat. However, taking a daily multivitamin supplement will also ensure adequate amounts of the important vitamins.” They make it sound as though you’d be cheating to take a multivitamin.
Taking control of your health: Someone’s gotta do it
Well, needless to say, I got a bit riled up about the AMA’s backhanded endorsement. And I’m not the only one. I found an article on this topic with some great commentary from Annette Dickinson, Ph.D., an expert on the benefits of vitamins and minerals and the vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs for the Council for Responsible Nutrition. Dr. Dickinson believes that part of the reason behind the AMA’s reluctance is that the “conventional medical community generally is skeptical of so-called personal intervention.” The article continued, saying “As a result, it has historically discouraged the idea that one should take responsibility for one’s own health apart from getting a physician’s care.”
Basically, what she means is that mainstream physicians don’t think it’s a good idea for us to take care of ourselves, and since vitamins are one of the best ways we can do that, they don’t like vitamins. What I want to know is this: if mainstream medicine doesn’t want us to care for ourselves, who is going to care for us? Because, obviously, they’re not doing such a good job of it.
Action to take:
As much as JAMA downplayed the reviewers’ advice, they were, for once, on to something. You should be taking a multivitamin every day. Check your local health food store or vitamin shop for a good brand and take it religiously. And I don’t mean one of those cheap, supermarket one-a-day varieties. The more vitamins you put into a formula, the lower the amount that can actually fit into one pill. If one pill contained all the nutrients you need at the right amounts, it would be about the size of a golf ball (at least). So any good multivitamin should have enough nutrients to warrant taking several pills a day.
If you can’t find a good one or don’t have a health food store near you (I know that’s a problem in all too many areas), you can always try the formula I recommend from Real Advantage, called Ultimate Daily Support. You can order it by calling (800)723-7318 and asking for code UDSBT. You should take six caplets a day: Each one contains over 25 ingredients–all of them essential to a good foundation of health.
“Vitamins for chronic disease prevention in adults: clinical applications,” JAMA 2002; 287(23): 3,127-3,129
“Patient Page: Vitamins A to K,” JAMA 2002; 287(23): 3,166
“The AMA crosses the line,” Conscious Choice, 8/02