March 19, 2014

Should Supplements Be Studied As Prescription Drugs?

This is one article that I have mixed feelings about and am concerned that we may lose a proper perspective about testing. The article has some good truths in their discussion, but I still have reservations.

This could not have been better stated. “On February 25, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) made a remarkable confession: conventional medicine isn’t qualified to properly assess the benefits of dietary supplements.” Conventional medicine in general does not appreciate dietary supplements and does not understand them. They maintain that if we ate the proper foods, we would not need them.

Conventional medicine forgets that there are circumstances that dietary supplements are needed when the body looses its ability to digest and absorb the essential nutrients from foods. Most often, this occurs when diseases interrupt this ability and some people also have this happen as they age and this is most common among the elderly.

It is necessary to quote this. “The group’s Recommendation Statement on dietary supplements and the prevention of heart disease and cancer, which evaluated and combined existing studies on multivitamins and individual nutrients, concluded that:
  • Studies on dietary supplements should be designed differently than drug studies (which are largely random controlled trials, or RCTs);
  • Existing dietary supplement studies aren’t representative of the general population, and don’t show “true subgroup differences” (e.g., how a nutrient will affect a young Hispanic woman versus an older Caucasian man);
  • Research should target those who are deficient in the nutrient they are testing instead of patients with optimal nutrient levels (a point that should be self-evident but has always been ignored);
  • Disagreements on appropriate nutrient levels “hinders progress in understanding potential benefits of dietary supplements”; and
  • Due to these factors, there is simply not enough evidence—using conventional medicine’s customary approach—to determine whether multivitamins, vitamins A, C, or D (with or without calcium), selenium, and folic acid help prevent heart disease or cancer, or not.”

The discussion only concerns heart disease and cancer, but should also include other diseases and the medications that can cause deficiencies, such as metformin can affect vitamin B12 absorption in about 30% of individuals.

Most doctors in conventional medicine do not even understand the conflicts between most prescription medications and dietary supplements. Very few doctors even understand that some foods can conflict and cause serious problems with many prescription medications.

In the last statement above, grapefruit, which contains furanocoumarins, (furanocoumarins are a class of organic chemical compounds produced by a variety of plants) is creating potentially fatal side effects in many drugs. The number of drugs being affected has in the last four years has risen from 17 drugs, and now stands at more than 85 drugs that may be affected by grapefruit. Seville oranges (often used in marmalade), limes, and pomelos also contain the active ingredients (furanocoumarins), but have not been as widely studied. Statins is a prime example of a drug affected by furanocoumarins. I have written about this here.

I would urge you to read the information on the first link at the top of this blog.

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