Don't Take Your Vitamins! - A response by Dr. Michael Wald, The Blood Detective, to an article appearing in the Sunday June, 9th, 2013 Edition of the Sunday Review of the New York Times
Read the full article here: http://nyti.ms/1bjIppq
Dr. Wald can be reached for comment at: http://intmedny.com/blog/
Each section below takes on certain concepts discussed in the Opinion article and Dr. Wald’s counter points.
Nutrition experts, that are clinical nutritionists and not dietitians, are not arguing, as this Opinion article states, that an individual should consume only the RDA levels of vitamins from foods. All nutritionists feel that a fundamentally good diet is where to start, but often people need levels of nutrients in pill, capsule or powder form to make up for the poor quality of our mass-produced foods.
Dieticians are formally trained in the governmental guidelines for food consumption, and receive no training beyond the most profound nutritional diseases, in the science and use of nutritional supplements. Additionally, a huge body of research, some of which is on my website Blog, has concluded that supplements of vitamins, minerals, herbs and other nutritional compounds, can and do play a major role in quality of life and death by reducing morbidity and mortality from health problems ranging from heart disease, cancer, diabetes and autoimmune disease.
The Opinion article uses the term RDA that demonstrates that Dr. Offit, the doctor represented in the article, is way behind the times. Why? “RDA levels”, a term no longer deemed appropriate by food scientists, was sited in the Opinion article, is no longer a valid term. Instead, RDV (Recommended Daily Value) and RDI (Recommended Daily Intake) are the terms used to describe the minimum level of nutrition, based on total daily caloric intake, recommended by the FDA. Sadly, the FDA is out of touch with the current state of scientific support for the use of nutritional supplements. Also, at best the RDV/RDI recommend the MINIMUM and not optimal levels of nutrition required for health and disease prevention. This basic misunderstanding, apparently also held by the author and physician stated in this article, has perpetuated for years keeping mainstream medicine virtually in the dark regarding the proven benefits of nutritional supplements. Simply put, there is a big difference between the minimal level of nutrition to prevent a deficiency disease (RDV/RDI) and an optimal level of health and meaningful disease prevention.
Flawed Study Design, Bias and Wrong Conclusions
Many of the studies sited in this Opinion article are based on “average people”; because scientific studies take groups of people and average out responses. The basic problem with this approach is that individuals who do well may be lost within the “average”. Scientific studies based on average people are useful, but should be considered in the context of other important factors such as health condition of the individual person, medications, desired level of health, laboratory findings, nutritional, visual/physical examination and health questionnaires.
This article fails to quote the many studies that confirm nutrients can be used to treat various cancers and chronic degenerative diseases. Their exclusion is suspicious at best underlying the need for balanced information in the arenas of health care and scientific research.
Empty Nutrition – The Current State of the American Diet
The New York Times recently sited in a detailed article just last week that modern farming practices have “farmed out” the nutrition in our foods - so we cannot eat a healthy diet anymore. The New York Times article clearly compared the nutritional content of antioxidants and phytonutrients contained in farmed-out food products compared to their wild food counterparts. The difference in nutritional levels between the wild and farmed-out products was in the order of the wild variety containing five to thousands of times higher levels of nutrition! If one tried to make up for this lost nutrition by eating more we would be faced with an even worse obesity problem then we already face in the United States. Dehydrated food supplement products like Green Detox, Reds Protect and Longevity Complete (www.blooddetective.com) are made from dehydrated fruits and vegetables.
Unqualified Medical Opinions
Traditional doctors are not trained in nutrition. The Opinion article siting Paul Offit, chief of infectious diseases, seems to have no formal nutritional education, but instead wrote a book that seems to disavow everything done in alternative medicine. Sadly, this is typical of individuals who, for reasons including ignorance, “a chip on their shoulder”, peer pressure and ignorance, hold such unqualified opinions that in effect limit the choices of the American public and potentially impact their quality and length of life. Traditionally trained medical doctors must wake up to the fact that the public is not as ignorant as it once was and, will not simply accept the opinions of their MD without qualifications.
Lung Cancer & Beta Carotene Study – more silliness!
Many of the studies that are sited, including the beta-carotene and lung cancer study sited, have many proven flaws and have been dismissed by serious scientists in the alternative field. One of the reasons for the questionable conclusions of the lung cancer and beta-carotene study discussed in the Opinion article is simple this: one cannot draw conclusion that beta-carotene killed lung cancer patients because different patients with lung cancer will ultimately die from their cancer at different rates.
Vitamins and Cancer Patients
The Opinion article also claims that certain vitamins kill cancer patients faster. It is virtually impossible to conclude that adding one, two or more vitamins into the diets of a dying cancer patient caused that patient to die earlier. This concept is ludicrous because chemotherapy kills many patients in unpredictable ways (and saves some too); as does the cancer itself. Cancer statistics are highly subjective and of very little value due to inconsistent cancer therapies delivered across the United States by oncologists, inadequate clinical management of patients (i.e., varying chemotherapy protocols), individual responses among cancer patients partly due to differences in cancer stage, progress and many other factors. It should be clear from this explanation that adding supplements haphazardly to cancer patients is not scientific, reproducible and is misleading to the public. Cancer patients should discuss the use of nutritional supplements with their oncologists, but must also ask the oncologist if their opinion is an educated one. Meaning, what specific training do they have in the area of nutrition and the biochemistry of nutrition.
Flip-Flop: American Medical Association – Vitamins are dangerous. No! We were wrong! Now Everyone Should Take a Multivitamin
Large studies have also shown, and the American Medical Association (AMA) themselves concluded several years ago, that every adult should take a multivitamin every day. This study had dozens and dozens of scientific references urging doctors to recommend that their patients consume at least one multivitamin per day. The AMA reversed their long-term stance that consuming vitamins was unnecessary and even harmful. Mortality studies have also been done showing decreased mortality in those who take certain vitamins. It seems that Dr. Offit, the infectious doctor sited in this article, missed this and other landmark studies. Here is the link to the study that I am referring to here:
Fairfield KM, Fletcher RH. Vitamins for chronic disease prevention in adults: scientific review. JAMA 2002; 287:3116-3126. Fletcher RH, Fairfield KM. Vitamins for chronic disease prevention in adults: clinical applications. JAMA 2002; 287:3127-3129.
Antioxidants – good or bad?
This Opinion article also states that taking antioxidants is harmful. Once again, many antioxidant studies have been conducted that demonstrate reduced morbidity and mortality in many diseases; tens of thousands of studies in fact. However, it is fair and balanced to acknowledge that there are always studies in virtually every area of health care and medicine that do not show benefits and may even show harm. A reasonable health care provider knows this. Disease-care providers without appropriate training in the nutritional sciences are prone to make such ignorant statements, namely, that vitamins are unnecessary.
FDA – questionable motives
The FDA makes many errors in their attempt to regulate medications and nutrients. Pharmaceutical companies who wish to capture the every growing vitamin market may unduly influence the FDA’s decisions regarding drugs and nutrients. Chief council at the time of the FDAs defeat in their attempts to regulate vitamins said, "it was the most humiliating defeat" in the agency's history. In the game of politics, money and power, there are winners and there are losers. This time, thankfully, the FDA lost. You may find it interesting to know that the FDA is still trying to regulate the vitamin injury placing the sole ability to recommend and provide nutritional supplements in the hands of untrained medical doctors. The FDA is also attempting, believe it or not, to stop the use by vitamin companies the ability to provide “links” to scientific studies that prove the usefulness of their products! Something is definitely wrong with this picture, I think.
This Opinion article by Dr. Paul Offit, chief of infectious diseases at a Philadelphia Children's Hospital, is terribly one-sided and behind the times. I am also disappointed that intelligent people can be so blinded by their own ignorance and unqualified opinions.
About the author of this rebuttal:
Dr. Michael Wald is a double-board certified nutritionist, holds a master’s degree in human nutrition from the University of Bridgeport, holds a Certified Nutrition Specialist designation from the State of New York and is a Certified Dietician-Nutritionist. His additional training includes receiving his medical degree (unlicensed) and holds a post-graduate degree in chiropractic from the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic.