Two articles in major British newspapers were issued on 4th and 5th May that again attack the use of nutritional supplements. A similar article also appeared in a prominent US newspaper.
The Sunday Times article("Health risk warning over high doses of vitamin pills" Sunday Times, London, May 4th 2003)and Daily Mail article("How too many vitamins can damage your health", Daily Mail, May 5th 2003) are deeply misleading. A simialr article also appeared in the New York Times.
A consumer of innovative supplements and supporter of the Alliance for Natural Health made the following response to the Sunday Times:
The Editor, The Sunday Times, 1 Pennington Street, Wapping, LondonE1 9XW, United Kingdom.
Jonathan Leake¹s article entitled "Health risk warning over high doses of vitamin pills" (Sunday Times, London, May 4th 2003)demonstrates a truly startling ignorance of the facts.
Far from poisoning themselves, the consistency of evidence in the scientific literature clearly shows that individuals who consume nutritional supplements have a lower risk of contracting serious disease, a position which has now been taken by two of the world's two leading medical journals.
The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), for example, recently reversed its long-standing anti-vitamin policy by stating that "it appears prudent for all adults to take vitamin supplements" (JAMA. Vitamins for Chronic Disease Prevention in Adults. 2002;287:3127-3129). Similarly, the April 9, 1998 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine featured an article entitled "Eat Right and Take a Multivitamin" that was based on a succession of positive studies showing the disease-prevention benefits resulting from the consumption of nutritional supplements.
The truth is that nutritional supplements are both safe and effective, and there are now countless thousands of published research studies to prove this. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in August 1996, for example, showed that over a nine-year period, people who consumed higher dose vitamin C and E supplements reduced their mortalityrisk by 42%. Similarly, a 1992 UCLA study (Epidemiology (1992; 3:3, pp. 194-202)) reported that men who took supplemental vitamin C lived 6 years longer than those who merely consumed the recommended daily allowance of 60 mg a day. This study, which assessed more than 11,0000 participants over a 10-year time period, showed that supplemental vitamin C intake extended average life span and reduced mortality from cardiovascular disease by 42%.
The UK Food Standards Agency¹s claim that supplements are useless in wardingoff illness or improving health is demonstrably untrue. An article published in the December 25, 1996 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showed that 200 mcg of supplemental selenium a day reduced overall cancer mortality by 50% in humans compared to a placebo group not receiving supplemental selenium. Likewise, data from the Nurses' Health Study conducted at the HarvardMedicalSchool showed that long-term supplementation with folic acid reduces the risk of colon cancer in women by 75%. (Annals of Internal Medicine (1998; 129:517-524)). The authors of this study expressly stated that folic acid obtained from supplements had a stronger protective effect against colon cancer than folic acid consumed in the diet.
Mainstream medicine has historically ridiculed vitamin C supplementation. Nevertheless, research conducted by Dr. Raxit Jariwalla, head of Immunodeficiency Research at the Linus Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine in 1990 showed that vitamin C is more effective in suppressing HIV in infected human cells than the AIDS drug AZT (Proc Natl Acad Sci 1990;87:7245-7249). Jariwalla showed that both vitamin C and AZT can block the infection of new cells, but AZT, unlike vitamin C, has no effect on virus production in cells which are already chronically infected. Vitamin C alone was 99 per cent effective in inactivating the virus. Around 10 grams of vitamin C a day halved virus activity, while twice as much antiviral protection was achieved by combining vitamin C with the amino acid N-acetyl-cysteine. Jariwalla¹s research has now been replicated by many other researchers.
Despite all of the above, Government agencies and the orthodox medical profession continue to preach that dosages above the RDA are both unnecessary and dangerous. Their message, however, is in stark contrast to the facts. The RDA¹s are not, and were never intended to be, a measure of safety. The world renowned pharmacist and clinical nutritionist Ross Pelton RPh, PhD, CCN has described the RDA¹s as the nutritional equivalent of the minimum wage. The RDA¹s are merely the levels of nutrient intake that are necessary to prevent human beings from developing outright nutritional deficiency diseases, such as scurvy, beri-beri, pellagra or rickets, and have nothing at all to do with the promotion of optimum health.
Unfortunately however, due to the huge circulation of the The Sunday Times, the net result of Jonathan Leake¹s article will be the unnecessary and premature deaths of large numbers of people who will perish from illnesses that are now known to be preventable by the proper use of nutritional supplements.
Irresponsible and uninformed journalism of this nature should have no place in a newspaper with the esteemed history of the Sunday Times, and Jonathan Leake¹s grossly ignorant statements plumb new depths of journalistic inaccuracy. His article claims that "people taking vitamin supplements often suffered more diseases than those who went without" and "there is no need for ordinary healthy people to take food supplements", both of which statements are demonstrably false.
I strongly urge you therefore to consider printing a correction, and your readers to investigate the true facts for themselves.