By Dr. Scott Saunders, M.D.

Heather was only in her fifties, but had already had several broken bones.  These came from relatively minor incidents, such as a trip and fall while hiking.  Her bone scan revealed low calcium in her bones, making them weak and easily broken.

In the past, poor bone mineralization was known as “Rickets” and the cure was discovered a hundred years ago – Vitamin D.  Now, we call the same problem “osteoporosis” and nobody thinks of vitamin D.  Instead doctors give highly toxic drugs to kill the osteoclasts and cause a different disease called “osteopetrosis” or dense, brittle bones.

doctor headlinesBefore the discovery of vitamins there were many maladies like scurvy, kwashiorkor, rickets, beriberi, goiter, and many other deficiency diseases that doctors commonly saw.  These problems have become rare so most doctors aren’t aware of them.  The problem with this is that doctors no longer learn about vitamins, minerals and other nutrients and their function in the body.

I had another such case of a middle-aged woman who was diagnosed with goiter.  Tests showed that an enlargement of her neck was her thyroid gland, and she went to several doctors, including specialists, for over ten years and was never told that she just had an iodine deficiency.  In 1896, iodine was discovered in the thyroid gland, and a hundred years ago every doctor knew that the treatment for goiter was to give iodine.

These stories are woven throughout my practice because I do understand and use vitamin therapies, and see many “cures” of illness that is due to nutrient deficiencies.  Now, it seems that all of our knowledge about vitamins is lost in a sea of drugs.

Doctors Don’t Know About Nutrients

Because nutritional health is not taught in medical schools, most doctors fall prey to tspecious headlines such as the one in a recent Annals of Internal Medicine editorial: “Enough is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements.”  Since the experts don’t read the actual research they assume that an expert who knows how to interpret the data writes the editorial; however, this may not be the case.

The authors of this editorial clearly and definitively state that multivitamins (generally) are useless. Where did they obtain the information to draw such a conclusion?  They refer to three trials published in the same journal.

Multivitamin Trial #1

This is not primary research, but rather articles chosen with specific criteria to try to determine if they could draw better conclusions by including more people.  One of the main problems with these reviews is that they are comparing apples to oranges.  The conclusions of the researchers themselves says:

In conclusion, we found no evidence of an effect of nutritional doses of vitamins or minerals on CVD, cancer, or mortality in healthy individuals without known nutritional deficiencies for most supplements we examined. In most cases data are insufficient to draw any conclusion, although for vitamin E and β-carotene a lack of benefit is consistent across several trials. We identified 2 multivitamin trials that both found lower overall cancer incidence in men. Both trials were methodologically sound, but the lack of an effect for women (albeit in 1 trial), the borderline significance in men in both trials, and the lack of any effect on CVD in either study makes it difficult to conclude that multivitamin supplementation is beneficial. (1)

In other words, from the trials they examined, they couldn’t find any evidence to support the use of small doses of vitamins for prevention of CVD and cancer – but “the data are insufficient to draw any conclusion!”  It gets better – there actually were two trials that showed a lower cancer incidence in men even though these people were specifically chosen because they had no deficiencies.

supplements to prevent cancerNow, we can draw our own conclusions. Is it worth taking a supplement every day to prevent cancer?  What are the risks? – NONE!  So, no risk to gain a small benefit of less cancer would definitely be worth it.  This is not “wasting money on supplements.”

Multivitamin Trial #2

This research was specifically done on people who already had heart attacks, all were taking drugs and medications for cholesterol, blood pressure, and so forth.  They were given the vitamins about 4 years after their heart attack, and were on them for about five years.  Regarding their conclusions the researchers state:

Limitation: There was considerable non-adherence and withdrawal, limiting the ability to draw firm conclusions (particularly about safety).

Conclusion: High-dose oral multivitamins and multi-minerals did not statistically significantly reduce cardiovascular events in patients after MI who received standard medications. However, this conclusion is tempered by the non-adherence rate. (2)

The “limitation” is because 46% of the patients quit taking their vitamins.  In other words, almost half did not adhere to the regimen, and the researchers state that this fact makes it difficult to draw conclusions.

The clear message from this is that if you wait 4 and a half years after a heart attack to take a multi-vitamin, and only take them for 5 years it won’t decrease your rate of heart attack and death.  However, there is no risk at all to taking a multivitamin if you have had a heart attack.

Multivitamin Trial #3

The third trial was a part of the Physician’s Health Study II where telephone interviews were conducted five times over twelve years to assess cognition and memory.  The researchers concluded:

Limitation: Doses of vitamins may be too low or the population may be too well-nourished to benefit from a multivitamin.

Conclusion: In male physicians aged 65 years or older, long-term use of a daily multivitamin did not provide cognitive benefits.(3)

The vitamin used was Centrum Silver, which is not designed to improve memory or prevent cognitive deficits.  At best, this could mean that THIS multivitamin may not improve cognition or memory, however, the study wasn’t designed to detect this.

In other words, the conclusions of the scientists conducting the trials did not match those of the editorial in the same journal.  However, in spite of the fact that they were unscientific and illogical, the media picked up on the conclusions of the editorial, but not the original research.

The damage to truth can be significant.  Even mainline news outlets have taken-up the cause, such as WebMD, CNN, and NPR.

Do Doctors Know How to Analyze Literature?

In one study, 75% of doctors indicated that they didn’t know enough to properly interpret statistical research.  Perhaps among these are the authors of the editorial about vitamins.(3)

Where can people turn to get good information?  How will they best know how to find the truth that will help them to maintain good health?  Must we read and analyze the references from every news article to be sure we are not being deceived?  Do we all need to go back to college to take statistics courses?  Apparently.

One way to determine the validity of information is to “follow the money.”  The journal in question is paid-for by drug companies.  There is an ongoing battle between the pharmaceutical industry and the supplement industry.  Gradually, people are trying to avoid drugs and use more natural supplements, however Americans still spend ten times more on drugs.  Drug companies have multi-billion-dollar advertising budgets and are paying for a large smear campaign against natural health treatments in order to stem the tide and maintain their monopoly on health care.

Vitamin Therapy works

Having been on both sides of this argument, I have a unique opportunity to analyze the extent the research on both sides.  I was trained in pharmaceuticals and still use them when appropriate, however I have also had over ten years of experience in natural, alternative, and vitamin therapies.

I often take people who are extremely ill on multiple medications and change them to vitamins instead.  They are so grateful!  They get well.  They get their lives back.

Yesterday, a woman who had suffered for years with allergies, in spite of medications, brought her mother in and thanked me for helping her to feel well on no medications.  She wanted the same for her aging mother.

Those of us who are curing incurable illness using vitamins and nutrients know something your doctor doesn’t know ¾ “VITAMINS WORK!”

Medications can never reverse heart disease, but we do it with vitamins and lifestyle changes.  Arthritis, eczema, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, psoriasis, and many other maladies are curable, when we find the cause – and it’s always with nutrientsDrugs, on the other hand, only keep you sick.

Just the fact that these studies all showed zero harm, and some potential benefit means that any rational person would recommend continuing to take them.  The cost is minimal, while the benefits can be substantial.  I can only conclude that the authors came to such illogical and unscientific conclusions due to bias and prejudice.  These taint the “science” of the journal in question.

The take-home message is “Question everything!”  Don’t put your trust in so-called experts.  Do the research yourself, or find knowledgeable people to help you.  And, most of all, don’t be afraid to take the supplements you need to stay healthy.  You don’t have to wait until you’re sick!

Do you notice a difference in your health and wellness when you take a multivitamin? Share your results and your favorite supplements!

Dr. Scott Saunders, Home Cures That WorkDr. Scott Saunders is the Health and Nutrition Advisor of Barton Publishing, a company that promotes natural health through teaching people how to cure themselves using alternative home remedies instead of expensive and harmful prescription drugs. Saunders is the director of The Integrative Medicine Center of Santa Barbara, which balances conventional medicine with alternative healing modalities to achieve optimal wellness.