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Karin & David Henderson

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“Vitamins For Chronic Disease Prevention In Adults” (scientific review and clinical applications).  Two American Medical Association Journal (JAMA) Articles On The Use Of Supplementation For Adults.


The information that you are going to read here is strictly educational and not intended as medical advice, but it is meant for you to think about other possible ways to consider chronic health conditions. Here is scientific support for the use of supplements. It helped us to understand why our Meniere’s disease sufferers got better. It helped us to see the connections between the possible causes of their symptoms, and what they could now do about their vertigo, dizziness, hearing problems and lack of a productive and reasonable life. This is not about treating or diagnosing a health condition. For that please, consult your health care professional.


In June 2002, the American Medical Association Journal (JAMA) published two articles that just blew me away! They provided the scientific evidence for the results we were witnessing!  It explained things that I suspected were happening. Let me introduce you to this information or maybe re-introduce you. First I want explain what this is all about. Next I will give you a resource so you can find a supplement to meet these recommendations. Or you can compare your own ideas about supplementation. Then I want to try and help you connect this to what might be already going on in your own life. I share some word pictures and links. Hopefully, that will help you to understand this concept and these recommendations a bit better. Lastly I want you to understand why this could be so important for you.


These articles mentioned “some chronic disease”, and I will expand on that. But I wanted to share this idea with you as it has changed my entire way of looking at chronic diseases. I now believe people do not have to remain stuck in an “illness mode”. Happily, from my own experience with Meniere’s disease, I was seeing people actually “living out” what the recommendations suggested! Here we now had the required scientific grounding I longed for! So I thought it would be helpful to share my thoughts and questions. One of the major challenges, of course, is to find what supplements qualify for this set of parameters. Let’s go to the abstract links first. Then I am also going to share with you where you can find information to help you choose possible supplements: what to look for and how to access the manufacturer. And lastly, I want to link this to two articles you may already have read: the immune system and the inflammatory process. Both are crucial for your knowledge if you want to be in control of your own health.


If you have optimum health, you shouldn’t have any health issues, right? You probably wouldn’t need to consider supplementation as your body tells, by its flawless functioning, that everything is fine. The irony is that it is precisely those healthy people, who do understand the value of supplementation, are the ones who maintain….this healthy state…by using supplements! So if you do have a health issue, any sort outside the normal aging process, then could you maybe not be offering your body optimum nutrition? Therefore the AMA suggests “every adult should take a multivitamin a day”.


In essence, the articles say that every adult should take a multivitamin. What a suggestion to make in our drug-oriented culture! The objective of the review was “to review the clinically important vitamins with regard to their biological effects, food sources, deficiency syndromes, potential for toxicity, and the relationship to chronic disease”.

 

The first article describes the scientific review and its methodology, and provides related health articles. It shows that there is a lot of action and research going on in this arena. From the scientific review, they concluded (I quote) “inadequate intake of several vitamins has been linked to chronic diseases, including coronary heart disease, cancer, and osteoporosis. 1 (Scientific review)

http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/287/23/3116


The second link is to the clinical application. From the clinical review, they also concluded (I quote) ”most people do not consume an optimal amount of all vitamins by diet alone. Pending strong evidence of effectiveness from randomized trials, it appears prudent for all adults to take vitamin supplements.” 2 (Clinical applications) http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/287/23/3127


Incidentally, if you have any serious interest in scientific research and reviews, this provides a very good learning opportunity in the mechanics of obtaining information. It shows you how you can, as a guest, obtain an overview of medical information that usually is only available to doctors and other health professionals. Interesting exercise.


Here we obviously meet a challenge. What supplements should you eat? How do you find what your body is missing? Again, this article makes it easier to find some answers and direction. It suggests a “multivitamin”. Most commonly, that term is meant to include both vitamins and minerals. Here comes next huge challenge. If you stood in front of a pharmacy or health food sore section, which contains all sorts of “offerings” of vitamins and minerals, how do you choose the one to match these criteria? How very frustrating! How discouraging! In my community health clinics I have often gone with people to show them just how difficult it is to read the labels (tiny print for one thing) and figure out what your body actually needs. Who decides?


Here is one excellent resource. It is called The Comparative Guide To Nutritional Supplements ISBN 0-9732538-0-0 by Lyle MacWilliam. It’s really worth the investment of a few dollars to help you sort through the confusion and the individual elements (vitamins & minerals). This manual ranks over 250 companies and over 500 products…I often do comparisons for people who tell me they are on the best quality supplements. Using this resource, I don’t need to guess. I can give an immediate rating. I see a major challenge for the ordinary person. How do you get answers to questions such as “how much is seen as optimal and what kind of product do I take to meet those recommendations?” “How much leads me to toxicity? Who do I trust to ask? How can I do more research? Once you have a tool like The Comparative Guide, it helps you to make better choices. It guides you in finding a supplement to meet these recommendations. Or you can compare your own ideas about supplementation.


I was speaking to a very skeptical man recently. He was convinced that all companies were out to “fleece” him. That they all produced the same products: just offered different promises. Of course all companies see themselves as being the best. So you must find yourself an objective group of scientists who know what to research and how to compare “apples to apples”. If you don’t have your own trustworthy source, you might like to use this Comparative Guide To Nutritional Supplements by Lyle MacWilliam. Not only does this book compare 500 products but it also explains the function or action of each ingredient and the need for them. This book will save you a lot of frustration and aimless running around.


When I first became involved with using nutritional supplements, I had no idea why the ones that were recommended to us by doctors for the Meniere’s disease sufferers, worked. I just knew they did. But when you see people getting so much better, you get a strong desire (passion) to figure out why is this happening. Why did it not happen when people said they ate well and had no bad habits?  We knew this particular company’s only goal was to help the immune system. But why did these work and why did others not work? It was only after we received this JAMA report that we finally understood the significance of using balanced, complete and optimal supplements. So if you are as unsure of finding an effective supplement as we were, I urge you to get this Guide. If you are already using a supplement, check it out here. Compare it to what scientifically is known to be needed by the body.


Let me try to help you connect this entire concept to what might be already going on in your own life. Hopefully, that will help you to understand this idea a bit better. But before I can do that, I need to work you through a few definitions: disease, chronic and degeneration to help you connect all these terms. (This is how I got through all my nursing courses: definition by definition.)


Medical terminology is quite confusing at times and my entire purpose in writing these articles, is to demystify this important part of your life. Mosby defines “disease” as “a condition of abnormal vital function involving any structure, part, or system of an organism”. (In this case, you are the “organism”.) Mosby defines “chronic” as “(of a disease or disorder) developing slowly and persisting for a long period, often for the remainder of a person’s lifetime”. The term “degeneration” is defined by Webster as “passing from a better to an inferior state: to deteriorate”. Mosby defines “degeneration” as “the gradual deterioration of normal cells and body functions degenerative as “to change to a lower level or dysfunctional form.” It describes a degenerative disease as “in which deterioration or function of tissue occurs. Some kinds of degenerative disease are arteriosclerosis, cancer, osteoarthritis.”
But now this report mentions that you can prevent these conditions! Do you begin to get the idea that your life might be a bit better?


The JAMA study specifically mentions heart disease, cancer, and osteoporosis. Can you believe that list would stop at only those “health” conditions? (What a misnomer!) I feel many more conditions qualify. Let me explain. We know cancer is a chronic degenerative condition. Medline lists these conditions as “degenerative”: Osteoarthritis Spinal Diseases Arthritis Spinal Stenosis Rheumatoid Arthritis.  You can search for them by clicking this link.

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists these chronic diseases and conditions: Arthritis, Asthma, & Allergies, Cancer, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Diabetes, Epilepsy, Heart Disease, Hemochromatosis, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Iron Overload, Osteoporosis, Overweight, and Obesity Stroke …do you think there could be more? http://www.cdc.gov/node.do?id=0900f3ec8000e035&print=on


There is a difference between aging and degeneration. One does not equal the other. We all age, but we don’t all have chronic diseases. Lyle MacWilliam, in The Comparative Guide, writes “attaining extremely old age was not a process of declining health. Rather than the older you are the sicker you get, the study showed; the older you are, the healthier you have been- becoming old and becoming ill are not inseparable. (Pg 6) Please read this sentence again. It makes complete sense! This is essence is what I really try hard to get across to people.


If you would like to read more about your immune system, here is a link to an article I wrote; http://www.menieres-disease.ca/health_reports/your-immune-system.htm

 

Although this immune system article is directed towards our Meniere’s sufferers, all the information holds true for anyone else. Ultimately you are trying to rebuild or repair your immune system. That is your overall protective mechanism. And that is possible according to this JAMA article information.

 

Now if you think this through with objectivity, does it not tell you that a degenerative condition might possibly be healed? And by using nutritional supplements? A burning question for you at this point might be: “how long would it take. ”How long would it take to get past the symptoms that are so unpleasant or debilitating?” I would hazard a guess that no one can predict that. From my experience, every person’s body is different. They heal at different times and in different ways. I also strongly believe it depends on what you are doing to help the situation. Are you adding to the problem? For example, many drugs add more chemicals. (More drugs = more chemicals and interactions.) Your body has to metabolize them. And that takes away from the immediate healing process.

 

But if you go back to the articles, why not ask yourself if you condition could be healed?? Explore this avenue of thought in detail and with hope. What do you have to loose by spending some serious time thinking in a positive fashion. Use the scientific review of a major health organization (AMA). Have you ever wondered why people go to such unusual health places that offer “healing”? So if you think about this recommendation as published in the JAMA, could there be a remote chance for you to get past your symptoms? I would venture to guess you already know that your body is constantly repairing itself. Now if you consciously give it the very best nutrients with which to do this, could this increase the chance of doing this? And maybe more quickly and more completely?

 

Here is yet another protective mechanism your body had built in: the inflammatory process. http://www.menieres-disease.ca/menieres-inflammatory-process.htm

Again, just as your immune system is protecting you, so is every single cell of your body. Your liver is filtering constantly as are your sinuses. Your lungs are protecting you as is your lymphatic system. And if you feed every single part of your body with nutrients that heal instead of adding to its’ workload, what would you conclude? That it could protect you better and more quickly and withstand other invaders, maybe? I find this fascination and very hopeful!


This is why I think it’s so important for you to understand this concept. I have already mentioned our success with one particular degenerative condition (Meniere’s) in helping people. In fact we also had the same success with other degenerative conditions or chronic diseases. So I hope you will study these concepts and hopefully understand, to a small degree, why it can happen.


When this information first appeared in the June edition of the JAMA, I was elated! It confirmed our findings. Of course our work is not scientifically set up. We simply hear from people what has worked for them. But to read these scientific findings now gives our work much more support. At least we know we are on the right track. I am now very hopeful. The abstracts mentioned cardiovascular disease, cancer and osteoporosis. But it also contained a very important word in one of the paragraphs. This word “including” is in this phrase “are associated with increased risk of chronic diseases “INCLUDING” cardiovascular disease, cancer and osteoporosis”.


To you this might not mean a whole lot, but to me it was literally world-changing! I know from my own medical experience, no one publishes “words’ without making sure they are correct. (It is why I spend time defining medical terminology for you.) Every single word used carries an important message. I have already mentioned that chronic diseases are degenerative. They are not part of the normal aging process. Everyone ages. Not everyone has a degenerative condition. I am sure you have heard of people dying of “old age”. That is aging. This study singled out cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and osteoporosis, BUT IT DID NOT LIMIT IT TO JUST THOSE FEW CONDITIONS! It mentions “chronic conditions including”. OH JOY!!


Now please follow my line of thinking. Why might you have a chronic condition? Could it be because your immune system isn’t strong enough to keep you healthy? Could it be because you are lacking in nutrients? What if you replaced those missing nutrients? Could you possibly reverse this degenerative condition? Doesn’t this scientific research give you a little more hope that it might be a path to explore?


Let me plant a thought in your head. Does it not seem that the symptoms of your unhealthy condition are inconsistent? You have good days and not so good ones, right? Why would that be? Is your body healthier on some days than others? Why could that be? And how would you increase the number of good days versus the number of bad days? Maybe like eating things that feed your body better? Like supplements that supply your body with everything it needs? Could good days be a remission? Could bad days be exacerbations or “flare up”? And what could be causing those good days? Could it possibly be that on good days your immune system is healthy enough? That you might have more good nutrients in your body to support our body doing what it is meant to do? Let your mind dwell on this.


You now have learned that it is possible to help support your immune system. Let your mind wander a bit and ask yourself how you could make some changes to promote this on a more frequent, more controlled basis. What would you have to do? I suspect taking a top-notch quality nutritional supplement would head the list. But I would also ask you to consider what else is going into your body right now that adds to the problem. In other words, what are you taking into or onto your body that is NOT supporting its health? Would your symptoms be lessened if you didn’t do those things? Would it be worth an experiment? Could this be a viable alternative to surgery or drugs? It is worthwhile exploring: the outcomes might be very surprising and very pleasing.


I am going to leave you with one last “commentary”. When he wrote this, Dr Laz Bannock was the nutritionist to the UK Olympic team and UK Athletic Association. He was also the former nutritionist to the late Princess of Wales. He offers a distance education course in professional Clinical Nutrition. http://www.doctorbannock.com


All Adults Should Take a Daily Multivitamin, Recommends AMA Journal
All adults should take a multivitamin every day, according to a report published by two Harvard doctors in the Journal of the American Medical Association (2002;287:3127–9). This recommendation is based on research demonstrating that taking a multivitamin may help prevent a number of chronic diseases, including heart disease, some cancers, and osteoporosis.


According to the authors, the evidence is “conclusive” that supplementing with folic acid during the first trimester of pregnancy reduces the risk of a group of birth defects known as neural tube defects. It is also well documented that taking vitamin D along with calcium reduces the risk of fractures in elderly women with thin bones (osteoporosis). A strong, though not conclusive, case can be made that supplementing with folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 may help prevent heart disease by lowering homocysteine levels. Additional research suggests that vitamin supplements may reduce the risk of colon and breast cancer.


The new recommendation is part of a gradual but ongoing attitude shift in conventional medicine concerning the value of nutritional supplements. For many years, the prevailing opinion among most doctors was that vitamin supplements are unnecessary because the typical American diet provides all of the nutrients necessary to maintain good health. However, as the Harvard researchers point out, that opinion is no longer defensible.


The observation that vitamin supplementation can prevent several common chronic diseases indicates that the average American diet does not provide optimal amounts of some nutrients. Subtle vitamin deficiencies can result from excessive consumption of nutrient-depleted foods such as refined sugar and white flour, from inadequate intake of vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables, and from nutrient losses due to processing, prolonged heating, or storage of foods.


While vitamin supplementation can correct certain deficiencies, it is not an adequate substitute for a good diet. That is because whole, unprocessed foods contain a wide array of beneficial substances besides vitamins, such as carotenoids, flavonoids, natural antioxidants, and other unidentified compounds. As one researcher recently suggested, the best approach to disease prevention is to eat properly and to take a multivitamin.


The authors of the new report point out that most multivitamins contain iron; supplementation with this mineral may be inadvisable for many men, non-menstruating women, and a small proportion of the population with an inherited intolerance to iron (hemochromatosis). Therefore, individuals who are taking a multivitamin should discuss with their doctor whether it is appropriate to include iron in their supplement.


The publication of this new report is an encouraging sign that conventional medicine is finally taking a more serious look at the role played by nutrition in the prevention and treatment of illness.  Dr Laz Bannock, has been teaching undergraduate and graduate level students in clinical nutrition for the past 5 years. He is currently Professor of Applied Clinical Nutrition with the IICN in London, England.


Please remember there that I am asking you to think: NOT to jump to any conclusions right now. Just be open to learning more and asking more questions or different questions. I sound like a broken record, but this is YOUR body: no one else’s. And if the AMA published an article that suggests you could prevent degenerative conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis, would it not be an idea to think that the quality of your life could possibly be better?


Keep these questions and thoughts in mind as you print off the abstracts. 
http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/287/23/3116
and

http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/287/23/3127

 

By Karin Henderson - Nurse, Retired.

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Additional Information

 

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