Saturday, December 30, 2006

CforYourself – Stop Your Toddler’s Runny Nose

I can’t prove it, but I am hopeful that giving the right doses of vitamin C assisted by some other supplements will prove to be fantastically effective for treating toddlers with runny noses. I recommend using three supplements that are inexpensive and easy to find. These are 500 mg chewable vitamin C tablets, children’s chewable multivitamins, and 250 mg time-release niacin gelcaps. When your toddler’s nose starts running, feed him or her 6 of the vitamin C tablets, one multivitamin, and 1/2 of one 250 mg time-release niacin gelcap. Follow up with 4 more vitamin C tablets before bedtime. Many toddlers are happy to take one kid’s chewable multivitamin and lots of chewable vitamin C. These taste good. The half niacin gelcap is the only toddler-unfriendly ingredient. It is, however, an essential part of the treatment and works synergistically with the vitamin C. Fortunately, niacin has a mild flavor. The gelcap is filled with tiny white spheres. It can be pulled apart and half the spheres added to ice cream or pudding, or some other soft, sweet, toddler-friendly food. The niacin may cause the toddler to flush – a temporary reddening of the skin. Although the flushing can be unpleasant, it is short lived and harmless. Further, flushing is unusual with time-release niacin at such a moderate dosage. A single dose of niacin is often all that is needed to obviously get the cold and runny nose into remission. Keep going with one multivitamin daily. Keep going with the vitamin C, 3 chewable tablets every morning and every bedtime until the cold is gone. 3 chewable vitamin C tablets and a multivitamin can be taken every day, even when healthy.

My experience suggests that this treatment is much more effective for toddlers than any other age group. This makes sense to me because toddlers entering daycare often have almost no prior exposure and no immunity to colds. Vitamins would be expected to be most useful during this period of growth and development when the immune system is learning how to defend against cold viruses. In my opinion, the primary function of vitamins is to catalyze the growth and development of an egg and sperm into a healthy adult. Building the immune system is among the most important and complex aspects of this process.

Vitamins and Eating Disorders

Vitamin supplements are almost certain to prevent serious eating disorders. This is one more reason all children should be taking vitamin supplements. Treatment of eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia) may be the best illustration of how hard it is for people (not just doctors) to comprehend the benefits of vitamin supplements. I found no mention of vitamins when searching on-line at websites run by medical authorities for treatment of eating disorders. I found no specific vitamin dosage recommendations at any website discussing treatment of eating disorders.

There is a consensus across the entire health care community that vitamins are a safe and effective treatment for vitamin deficiency diseases. In my lifetime, I was not taught much in my pre-med courses about deficiency diseases, and have not come across much discussion despite extensive reading. My education left me under the impression that vitamin deficiency was rare thanks to the fortification of foods with vitamins. A recent article in the New York Times magazine on anorexia jolted me. Hundreds of thousands of girls and young women intentionally starve themselves to lose weight. This population is, by definition, vitamin deficient. I then learned, to my great consternation, that eating disorders are a well-known symptom of vitamin deficiency diseases. Thinking it through, anorexia is a frightening symptom of deficiency because it turns deficiency into a trap. Accidental or experimental depletion of vitamins requires robust and healthy eating to be cured.

I found links on-line to excellent descriptions of the major deficiency diseases – scurvy, pellagra, and beriberi. Interestingly, there was no discussion in these summaries of how eating disorder symptoms respond to deficiency disease treatment. The treatments for scurvy, pellagra, and beriberi are large doses vitamins. The recommended doses cannot be obtained from eating ordinary foods. This suggests that vitamin deficiency diseases are difficult to treat without supplements.

So, although there is a consensus that high doses of vitamins are needed to treat vitamin deficiency, apparently there is not a consensus that self-starved young women are vitamin deficient. Can someone explain this to me? This is beyond doctors. This is about all educated adults. Why don’t parents feed their children vitamin supplements? Every educated adult can read for himself or herself that eating disorders are caused by vitamin deficiency. Every educated adult must understand that a self-starved young woman is in need of vitamin supplements. Since, as a society, we can not agree that overt vitamin deficiency caused by self-starvation should be treated with high potency vitamin supplements, we are a very long way from using vitamins supplements to optimize the growth and development of children, to optimize adult immunity and healing, and to delay aging. Much progress has been made since Linus Pauling wrote “How to Live Longer and Feel Better”, but much remains to be discouraged about.
Eating disorders look to me like a great place to focus the discussion between vitamin advocates and vitamin skeptics. I know what the skeptics will say. They will say that there is no proof (double-blind, placebo controlled trials), and will point to individuals with eating disorders who are now taking vitamins and still struggling with their disease. They will point out that vitamins do not cure eating disorders quickly, and they will point out that stopping vitamins does not necessarily cause a relapse. They will point to side effects from the vitamin treatment. All these statements are truthful, and all are blind to the well-established science surrounding vitamins and vitamin deficiency diseases. With the science in complete support of supplements, it should be possible to add the use of vitamins supplements to treat eating disorders to the small but growing list of treatments accepted by main stream medicine.

Monday, December 25, 2006

How to Live Longer And Feel Better

Originally published in 1986, the Oregon State University Press has recently released a Twentieth Anniversary edition of Linus Pauling’s monumental book for the layman, How to Live Longer and Feel Better. While simple in its prescriptions for health and in its plain, matter-of-fact style, the information that supports Pauling’s assertions carry the Noble-prize winning scientists’ enormous understanding of chemistry, biology and nutrition. All this is backed up by his easy to understand explanations and references to numerous scientific studies. Recognized as one of the greatest scientific minds of the twentieth century, Pauling was one of those rare geniuses that could distill a complex subject in a way that we less gifted could understand.

I first read How to Live Longer and Feel Better in 1991. Pauling states his case with an elegant simplicity while the reader comes away understanding that this guy knows what he is talking about. I was immediately captivated because the information presented is so simple, so important to human health and nobody seems to know about it! It was the impetus to the publication of www.cforyourself.com, my website about vitamin C dedicated to Dr. Pauling’s life and work.

Paulings’ ascertion that high-dose vitamin C could prevent and cure the common cold, followed later by claims of its benefit for cancer and heart disease were quite controversial. Paulings ideas, while not well received by the established medical community that is dominated by “conventional wisdom” and hampered by a general lack of education concerning nutrition, could not be dismissed due to his stature in the scientific community. Combine this with his ability to speak directly to the common man and you have a force to be reckoned with. Even so, the inertia was, and remains, daunting.

Most of the people I talk to are reluctant to accept this simple, powerful information. I believe there are several, common reasons for this. The most basic is people’s general hard-headedness and hesitancy to accept something new, especially if it is revolutionary. Building on this is the classic response “If this were true, everyone would know”, a rationale derived from the logical position that something so basic and important would not elude the medical community. If further support of the status quo is desired one need look no further than the many studies showing vitamin C’s ineffectiveness. Amazingly, this is not a hard objection to overcome.

The biggest obstacle in the way of people’s willingness to accept the importance and effectiveness of vitamin C is the dosage requirement. The amount of vitamin C needed to provide the results Pauling described is, in “vitamin” terms, huge. If we disregard the vitamin C studies where dosage was obviously too low, we are left with studies that show amazing benefit.

Most of us have an intuitive understanding that nutrition is important to human health. It is most obvious that we all need to eat to live. Most of the media coverage of “diet” and health focuses on foods that may be harmful or lead to disease. A classic example of this is the “diet-heart idea” that claims that “high” levels of cholesterol in the blood leads to heart disease. The acceptance of this idea has led to a very large change in the food industry with the introduction and promotion of foods low in fat and cholesterol. What is lost in the rush to eliminate the foods that are killing us is the other side of the nutrition coin. What are the nutrients that are required for our systems to work at their best, to prevent and cure illness and at what levels are these nutrients necessary to promote optimum health? These are questions and some answers that Pauling brought to the publics attention in his classic last book and that others, including your humble reviewer, are attempting to amplify. If this approach to nutrition makes sense to you and you are interested in learning more then How to Live Longer and Feel Better is the best place to start.