Saturday, January 27, 2007

Vitamin C, Niacin, Multivitamins, and Children

The transformation of an egg and sperm into a young woman or young man is one of nature’s miracles of evolution. The major building blocks are proteins, fats, calcium and phosphorus. The major energy sources are carbohydrates (including sugars) and fats. The tools for construction are specialized proteins, many of which are constructed from building blocks that include vitamins and minerals. This means vitamins must be considered as essential tools used for the construction of the next generation. Read more here.

Cforyourself provides links to the vast scientific and medical literature that details the multiple roles of vitamin C in the human body. Many potential benefits of 3,000 to 30,000 mg/day doses of vitamin C are controversial, but not all. Vitamin C has been proven to reduce the severity and duration of colds at these doses. The mechanism of action has been proven to be a general anti-viral activity. Vitamin C in this dosage range is now well known as a cure for mononucleosis (type “mononucleosis vitamin C” into google for references). When talking to your doctor, I recommend pressing the point on colds and mononucleosis. These cures are validated by clinical confirmation. Statistically significant numbers of people have taken high doses of vitamin C for these two conditions and it works. The need to learn about vitamin C from activists on the internet instead of from doctors and pediatricians is shameful.

It is simply a fact that the vitamin C content of food is not always enough, and that vitamin C supplements are safe. What does this mean for expecting parents? Vitamin C and other vitamins are important tools used for the growth and development of children. The vitamin C content of food is not always enough. Vitamin C supplements are safe. Children’s multivitamins are safe. Parents should consider feeding their children vitamin C and multivitamins. Most children like to eat children’s chewable multivitamins (one per day), and 500 mg chewable vitamin C tablets (at least 2 with breakfast and 2 with dinner). I believe that parents should take responsibility for choosing a vitamin C dosage for their dependent children. I believe that some day, rearing children without feeding them vitamin C and multivitamin supplements will be as socially unacceptable as smoking and drinking during pregnancy is today.

Those who read my columns know that in addition to vitamin C and a multivitamin, I also believe that parents should take responsibility for choosing a niacin dosage for their dependent children. Like vitamin C, niacin is safe and has proven health benefits at doses many times higher than can be obtained from food. Niacin is the best treatment known for controlling cholesterol because it both lowers bad cholesterol and raises good cholesterol when taken by adults at doses of 1000 to 3000 mg/day (this is far higher than I recommend for children). I have stood behind my beliefs and raised my own two children with vitamin C, niacin, and multivitamin supplements in equal or higher doses than I recommend to others. They are now happy and healthy young adults. Today, however, feeding supplemental niacin to children is an almost unknown behavior. Niacin will need to prove its value to sick children (my kids were sick as toddlers) whose parents are willing to take the risk of being different before it will be considered by the parents of healthy children.

Vitamin D and thiamine are also important. Read more here. Vitamin D deficiency has become a major problem for children because kids today are getting less and less sunshine and using more and more sunblock. Vitamin D supplements can substitute for sunshine, and up to 1000 IU/day is probably safe. Unfortunately, for some sensitive kids, the combination of 1000 IU/day of supplemental vitamin D plus the vitamin D from sunshine will cause side effects. The safest course of action is to make sure that children get plenty of noontime sunshine wearing minimal clothing. The amount of thiamine in a multivitamin is probably enough to keep most kids healthy. As insurance, giving children one or two 100 mg thiamine tablets a week won't do any harm and will provide large benefits to children who have difficulty absorbing thiamine.

What is more important than the health of the next generation? What is more important than growing strong, smart, healthy adults from a vulnerable fetus? Today, I believe the vitamin industry is focused on curing adult ailments. This is a tough task. Vitamins are not drugs. I don’t believe the primary purpose of vitamins is to fix broken adult bodies. I believe the primary purpose of vitamins is to grow healthy adult bodies that resist illness. I believe that improving the health of the next generation can dramatically reduce the incidence of chronic adult illnesses. The key to vitality and longevity is to get off to the best possible start.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Heavy Metals Endanger Children – Vitamins May Help

Behavior problems, learning disabilities, and cancers are afflicting an increasingly higher percentage of youngsters. Although the causes are unproven, growing evidence suggests that air pollution is a significant factor. Heavy metals in fuels are an obvious cause for concern. Mercury in coal is an issue spot-lighted by environmental groups. Coal fired power plants release close to 50 tons/year of mercury vapor into the atmosphere in the U.S. Metals are also present in marine fuel oils.

Metals from combustion are dispersed in the air as invisible particles. They are blown by the winds and therefore become widely spread. They can enter the body through the lungs. When these metals land on fields and pastures where food is produced, a tiny fraction of them can enter the food supply. The concentration of heavy metals in air and food is very small. It is so small that scientists often can’t detect them even with the most sophisticated equipment. The problem is that just because heavy metals are undetectable does not guarantee that they can’t do harm. Few children can avoid both contaminated air and food, consistent with the observation that behavior problems, learning disabilities, and cancers are striking indiscriminately amongst rich and poor alike.

Heavy metals pollution should make parents afraid. If you are not afraid, type mercury, toxicity, and children into google and do some reading. It is not a simple matter of developing more sensitive tests, because some scientists are beginning to suspect that there may not be a safe dose for growing children. A steady diet of heavy metal, even just several atoms per day, getting into the wrong place at the wrong time may be enough to cause permanent harm.

Metals have always been a part of the environment, and the body has methods to remove unwanted metals to prevent harm. When kids are poisoned by metals, doctors treat them with drugs that accelerate these natural mechanisms. It is reasonable to hypothesize that vitamin dependent metabolic pathways are involved in vitamin removal. If true, vitamins might provide some protection. It is also reasonable to hypothesize that some damage done by metals can be healed. Important metabolic pathways in the healing process are known to be dependent upon vitamins. So, vitamins may be able to protect children by healing damage caused by metals, or by preventing the damage in the first place. Read more here

Concern about heavy metal pollution is one more reason I recommend vitamin C, niacin, and multivitamins for children. All children get vitamins from food. My concern is that food is not enough. Children may need extra. Then the question becomes how much extra and how to get children to take it. Most children are happy to eat chewable multivitamins and 500 mg chewable vitamin C tablets. I recommend three 500 mg chewable vitamin C tablets with breakfast and dinner every day. I also recommend one chewable multivitamin every day.

My final recommendation for children is time-release niacin. The time-release niacin is the only toddler-unfriendly ingredient. Fortunately, niacin has a mild flavor. Time-release niacin is available in 250 mg gel caps. The gel caps are filled with tiny spheres. Pull the 250 mg gel cap apart and add half of the spheres to ice cream or pudding, or some other soft, sweet, toddler-friendly food. I recommend 125 mg (one half of a gel cap) three times per week with breakfast.

Niacin and vitamin C in these doses occasionally cause side effects in children. It is important that you inform your pediatrician that you are giving your children vitamins. If your child becomes sick, stop feeding them the extra vitamins until you learn the cause.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Fighting Colds with Vitamin C and Niacin

I have read many documents advocating fighting colds with 5 to 100 gm/day doses of extra vitamin C. The extra vitamin C is taken in divided doses every hour or two until the onset of the side effect of intestinal discomfort. Many in my family followed this advice for many years, and we generally believe that the practice reduces the duration and severity of colds. Despite this practice, colds continued to cause substantial suffering, and we were interested in better results. If you are looking for good doses to start with, click here.

Niacin is one of two common forms of vitamin B3. Niacin has been proven in double blind, placebo control clinical trials to fight heart disease when taken at doses ranging between 1000 and 4000 mg/day (the RDA is near 20 mg/day). Niacin lowers LDL cholesterol and raises HDL cholesterol. It is the most effective treatment known for these conditions.

Niacin can be difficult to take. It can have very unpleasant side effects. Niacin causes flushing. The skin turns red and feels like a sunburn for a few minutes. On average, the severity of the flush increases with increasing dose, and can be extremely painful. Flushing can be controlled with time-release niacin. The next most common side effect is more serious. It is nausea. The nausea ranges from mild, lasting for an hour or so to so severe that it lasts a whole day and can be accompanied by vomiting. Niacin has been associated with many other side effects. In this respect, niacin is much more difficult to use than vitamin C. In general, vitamin C’s intestinal side effects are some combination of completely avoidable or readily tolerable.

My family has found niacin’s side effects to be tolerable, but not completely avoidable. We take it because we have found the combination of vitamin C and niacin to obviously reduce the duration and severity of colds. With the exception of the most severe colds, the combination of vitamin C and niacin has kept the family feeling 100%, and maybe even better. When fighting a cold, we have found the combination of vitamin C and niacin to have a stimulant effect. Under the influence, in addition to fighting off the cold, we rush about our business with extra energy. We use single daily doses of niacin between 100 and 250 mg. We ordinarily use it only twice at most because by the third day the cold is over. I take ordinary niacin and typically flush because the flush doesn’t bother me. The rest of my family hate flushing and take time release niacin. When the cold is gone we return to the normal daily routine of vitamin C and a multivitamin.

I have read the vitamin literature extensively. I have found almost nothing advocate the combination of extra vitamin C and extra niacin to fight off colds. If anyone can point me to references, I’m interested.

Niacin is a vitamin with tremendous potential. All medical professionals accept the usefulness of niacin at doses far above the 20 mg RDA. All cardiologists are now familiar with the challenges of using niacin and are a skilled resource to help the population that is suffering from chronic colds. Niacin side effects are being successfully managed. The benefits clearly far outweigh the dangers.

Niacin is known to be essential to the health of every cellular system in the body. Hundreds of specific metabolic pathways requiring niacin have been identified. Since high doses of niacin are effective for heart disease, proposal that high doses might be effective for other conditions merit a fair hearing.

So, if colds cause you enough trouble to make taking extra vitamin C worthwhile, consider adding in some extra niacin. There’s nothing to lose. If it works, come on back to the board and let others know. Let us know about any side effects too.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Curing Small Children with Pale Faces and Dark Circles Under the Eyes

Curing Small Children with Pale Faces and Dark Circles Under the Eyes

My experiences suggest that sunshine, several grams a day of vitamin C, and extra B-vitamins are much more effective at addressing the health problems of little children than they are at addressing the health problems of adults. It makes me very sad that parents and pediatricians are afraid of this safe and simple treatment. After blogging for over 6 years, I still feel this way. Read more here, here, and here

Every time I go to the mall, I see small children walk by with pale faces and dark circles under their eyes. If these kids were part of my family, I would ask them to consider my advice.

My recommended cure uses sunshine and three supplements that are inexpensive and easy to find. Sunshine is essential for good health. Vitamin D, one of only four vitamins that prevent named deficiency diseases, is manufactured by skin exposed to sunshine. Sunshine also maintains the circadian rhythm by causing the pineal gland to produce melatonin. A strong circadian rhythm improves the quality of sleep. It is hard to overstate the importance of optimal sleep for a developing child, and beyond the ability of modern medicine to test. I recommend parents read about the importance and complexity of sleep, and gain an awareness of how little we are able to know about whether or not our kids are really sleeping well. Sunlight is known to alleviate/eliminate allergies, to cause special cells in the skin to produce the alpha melanocyte stimulating hormone (so sunshine has been proven by science to cause the produce of at least three hormones!), to cause the production of a couple of neuropeptides, and to cause the release of endorphins. As time passes, science is likely to discover many other ways that sunshine plays a role in human metabolism. Until we know more, there is much to gain and little to lose by making sure children spend plenty of time outside every day. Sunblock should only be used after your child has been exposed to 30 minutes of bright sunshine. The three supplements are 500 mg chewable vitamin C tablets, children’s chewable multivitamins, and 250 mg time-release niacin gel caps. If you have a toddler with a pale face and dark circles under the eyes, feed him or her 6 of the vitamin C tablets, one multivitamin, and 1/2 of one 250 mg time-release niacin gel cap. 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. Some children will not tolerate the vitamin C. It can cause discomfort in the intestines. If it does, stop the vitamin C for a few days and try again a few days later starting with just 1 tablet per day. The half niacin gel cap is the only toddler-unfriendly ingredient. Fortunately, niacin has a mild flavor. The gel cap is filled with tiny spheres. Break the gel cap in two and add half of the spheres 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 harmless. Further, flushing is unusual with time-release niacin gel caps at such a low dosage. Keep going with 125 mg/day of time release niacin and the vitamin C, 4 chewable tablets every morning and every bedtime until the dark circles are gone and are replaced by rosy cheeks. Sunshine, 4 chewable vitamin C tablets and a multivitamin should be obtained every day, even when healthy.

Why are so few other people concerned with toddlers that have pale faces and dark circles under their eyes? More importantly, why are so few other parents concerned? Does anyone really believe that these toddlers are in robust good health? Is it just a feeling of helplessness? Is it because the condition doesn’t have a name?

Toddlers all go through a crucial period of immune system development. These years are their first exposure to the ordinary diseases that are a natural part of our environment. The most ordinary of these ordinary diseases are viral respiratory tract infections. Because toddlers are developing immunity, the average toddler has 8 to 10 respiratory tract infections/year. A typical infection lasts a week start to finish. Therefore the average toddler is dealing with a cold for 3 months of every year. This means below average toddlers are dealing with a cold more than half the year. I believe that this can cause tremendous stress and runs the risks of permanent consequences. That’s why I’m alarmed when I see kids with pale faces and dark circles.

All parents should be open to the idea that toddlers with pale faces and dark circles could be in better health. All parents should be open to the possibility that sunshine and extra vitamins are especially useful for rapidly growing toddlers. I know where that leaves parents. They can try sunshine and extra vitamins and know that they are nearly on their own without the support of friends, family, or pediatricians. Or they can do nothing and risk the consequences of their inaction – asthma, obesity, chronic respiratory infections, learning disabilities, sinusitis, ear infections, etc. Doing nothing is tragic because sunshine and vitamin supplements are safe and inexpensive. There is much to gain and almost nothing to lose from giving sunshine and vitamins a try.