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The Health Sciences Institute e-Alert

April 23, 2003


Dear Member,

"Sure is sad that the drug companies have such a hold on the world that nobody knows about the anti-viral/bacterial vitamin C work of Klenner, Pauling, Kalakerinos, Cathcart and others."

That statement is from an e-mail about the SARS epidemic that HSI Panelist Allan Spreen, M.D., sent me last week. And those four names are the Mount Rushmore among doctors and scientists who pioneered vitamin C research and made the world aware just how much human health depends on this essential nutrient.

Dr. Spreen's e-mail just happened to coincide with another e-mail from an HSI member named Ron who wanted some specific information about vitamin C. It's a timely topic - one that could conceivably help save lives worldwide in the coming weeks and months.

Getting it all in

Ron's question concerns vitamin C in relation to multivitamins. Ron writes: "Your suggestion about taking a multivitamin...are there any you recommend that don't have the vitamin C in a crystalline form, which your body can only process about 10% of before its removed. I prefer to take a series of individual vitamins because in order for the multi's to fit the goodness that I get from about 8 different vitamins and minerals into two pills usually mean that its got man made vitamins that most of us cannot process with any meaningful usefulness to our body."

I'm glad that Ron sent these questions, because it's a subject that's brought up with some frequency in e-mails from members. Dr. Spreen' response starts off by addressing the multi-vitamin situation:

"There have been a few really good multi-vitamin/mineral preparations that have left out certain nutrients (vitamin E and C, along with iron which often should be avoided) so that the discriminating pill-popper can augment as he or she sees fit. The problem with that became that many potential customers would look at the label and see the product as incomplete and purchase something else."

A C by any other name

"Vitamin C, natural or synthetic, is one of the molecules that is identical either way (which is not at all true for all nutrients). That's not to say that I don't prefer natural; it's just that it's very hard to come by, and extremely expensive. 'Rose hips C' is not 100% vitamin C from rose's just too expensive. In its natural state, meaning mixed by Mother Nature with attending bioflavonoid fractions, there's little question (to those who treat with it regularly) that less amount is needed for an equivalent biological action. My solution, in large part, has been to use high enough doses that I get results anyway. Not the best way, maybe, but it means that any store will have what a patient might need during an illness.

"Concerning absorption, it's difficult to discuss that as it changes depending upon the dose ingested and the body's need at any particular time. For example, 6000 milligrams might cause loose stools in a given healthy person when the same person during a bout with the flu might be able to take 20,000 milligrams without difficulty.

"Some people are less tolerant to vitamin C in the acid form. For them switching to the salt form (sodium ascorbate, calcium ascorbate, magnesium ascorbate, etc.) often permits far higher tolerance."

Bring on the C

"My point here is that the amount of vitamin C in a supplement is far less than I'd want a person to take anyway (I nearly always start with a minimum of 1000 milligrams 2x/day), so you'd still want to add to it. I tell people to seek capsule-form or powdered multi where possible, or make sure that the pill dissolves very quickly in water. I avoid 100% RDA (or DV or MDR or whatever) as being far too weak (and expensive for what you get), plus you can't get them without iron should you choose to do so. If you look on the label a good product should have at least 25 milligrams (or more) of the numbered B-vitamins...B-1, B-2, B-6, and they'll be listed right together, so you can be a semi-expert right off the bat.

"I start with a good multi (there are many) and then add specifics for my own wants. You need a team on the field before you can play a team sport, then you start looking to recruit 'specialist players'. In my opinion that's the way the supplement game is played."

Our friends at NorthStar Nutritionals make an excellent multi-vitamin called Daily Defense Plus that provides an ideal "team on the field," including a good base of B vitamins as well as specific nutrients designed to strengthen the immune system while maximizing heart and vision health. For more information, click here:

While news about the SARS epidemic changes daily, it's obvious that this international health threat should not be taken lightly. Ultimately, it will require more than vitamin supplements to put a stop to SARS. But a nutritious diet, combined with supplements that lay the foundation for a healthy immune system, provide what you might call a personal "homeland defense".

...and another thing

I came recently came across an article on Reuters Health with a report about a quiet revolution: a growing trend of independence among cancer patients.

According to the market consulting firm Datamonitor, an astonishing 80% of cancer patients in the U.S. supplement their medical care with alternative treatments ranging from special diets and supplements to herbal remedies and acupuncture.

Even more amazing: they estimate that throughout the world as much as $18 billion is spent every year on complementary and alternative methods to treat cancer, with over half of all cancer patients supplementing their care with an alternative to conventional medicine.

This trend is particularly strong in Europe where the use of herbal and folk remedies is more accepted than in the U.S. Germany leads the European use of alternative care with as much as 60% of their cancer patients seeking complementary treatments.

The report came with a warning, however, pointing out that some of these natural therapies may conflict with prescription drugs. That's nothing new to HSI members and readers of this e-Alert. We've often talked about the need to discuss your own initiatives in supplementary care with your doctor to avoid treatment conflicts, especially with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.

The Datamonitor report also speculated that as further research is devoted to alternative medicines, new compounds could lead to life-saving breakthroughs in cancer therapy.

Heck, we could have told them that a long time ago.

To Your Good Health,

Jenny Thompson
Health Sciences Institute

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