Sunday, May 20, 2007

Protect Children from Heavy Metals (Mercury, lead, cadmium, platinum, plutonium, uranium, and chromium) with Vitamin C and Niacin

One of the most important tasks of vitamins is to catalyze the growth and development of an egg and sperm into a healthy adult. If you are looking for good doses to start with, click here.

The growth and development of the brain and nervous system is particularly complex and therefore vulnerable to toxins. Heavy metals in the air, food, and water represent a new environmental pressure on developing children. Before the industrial age, exposure to heavy metals was at least ten times lower than today. Modern mining and extraction industries have liberated heavy metals from the earth’s crust. High temperature processing (e.g. fossil fuel combustion, metals smelting, phosphorus production) spreads heavy metals finely across the earth’s surface. Unlike ordinary chemicals made from hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen, heavy metals are elements and therefore indestructible. Because they are not destroyed, heavy metals can accumulate in the biosphere. Levels of mercury, cadmium, platinum, plutonium, uranium, and chromium are all on the rise. Lead remains a danger because it is a commodity metal used in very large volumes by the automobile industry. Plants readily absorb cadmium. Cadmium is delivered to the fields of today’s agricultural industry as a trace contaminant in phosphate fertilizers. The cadmium is selectively absorbed by plants, and so is steadily accumulating in concentration. Radioactive heavy metals are used to provide power for satellites and spacecraft. Satellites and spacecraft occasionally malfunction and vaporize upon crashing to earth. These accidents release radioactive heavy metals into the biosphere.

Government agencies know that heavy metals endanger children. They are working to reduce risk by tightening standards and improving enforcement. However, despite government efforts, the levels of heavy metals are rising. Levels rise because more and more minerals are mined from the earth each year from lower and lower quality ores. More fossil fuels are burned and more metals are smelted. It is possible that standards and enforcement improvements are insufficient to even offset volume growth. Every year similar volumes are released to the biosphere and only a small amount of metal is removed from the biosphere. Your children and grandchildren are not growing up with the same heavy metals exposure as you did. Just because you and your friends grew up in the same town and were safe doesn’t mean your grandchildren growing up in the same town are safe.

Exposure to heavy metals should make every parent or expecting parent afraid for their children. The prevalence of autism has risen from 0.05% in the 1970’s to over 0.5% today. The prevalence of ADHD has risen from 1% in the 1970’s to over 5% today. As mentioned above, the development of the nervous system is particularly sensitive to environmental toxins. Specific complexes of heavy metals are well known for their ability to cause nervous system damage in growing children.

There is no proof today that the rising levels of heavy metals in the environment are the cause of the rising incidence of childhood neurological disorders. However, there is no proof that they aren’t. While we wait for the answer, it seems sensible to take precautions. Government regulators should step up their efforts to prevent the release of heavy metals into the air and water. Parents and community groups should monitor local levels of heavy metal pollution. Pediatricians should consider routine screening of children’s hair for heavy metals levels. Fortunately, the cost and accuracy of the scientific equipment needed to detect heavy metals is steadily dropping.

Extra vitamins can also play a role. Vitamin C and niacin are known to be involved in wound healing. A heavy metal compound in the wrong place in the body is a kind of wound. Vitamin C and niacin dependent metabolic pathways must be involved in the processes used by the body to remove and excrete heavy metals and heal the damaged caused by the metal compound and the removal process. My recommendations for optimal doses of vitamins for growing children can be found in many of my other blogs. B-complex vitamins (niacin is a B-complex vitamin) can cause troublesome side effects. Cardiologists routinely prescribe 2000 mg/day of niacin to patients in order to control blood cholesterol. They are familiar with niacin side effects and an invaluable source of help monitoring children taking extra vitamins.

Heavy metal pollution may be at least partly responsible for the growing epidemic of childhood neurological disorders. The case against heavy metals is strong enough to warrant an order of magnitude increase in monitoring of air, food, water, and children’s hair. The resulting data might go a long way towards clarifying the relationship. Parents should also consider extra vitamins as part of a basic nutrition package designed to help their children grow up healthy and strong.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Vitamin C, Niacin, B-complex Vitamins, Heavy metals, and Childhood Disorders Like Autism and ADHD

Our government recognizes the toxicity of mercury. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) provides instructions for dealing with spills of mercury from compact fluorescent light bulbs and thermometers. The instructions involve containing the spilled mercury in a sealed plastic bag and then delivering it to local authorities for special disposal. You can read more details about responsible management of a spill of just a few milligrams of mercury in your home here:

The same DEP takes a different approach towards the release of 48 metric tons/year of mercury from coal-fired power plants. This behavior is OK because the benefits of lower-priced electricity are believed to outweigh the costs of any neurological disorders caused by released mercury.

Oddly enough, this is not quite as simple an issue as it seems. It is painfully difficult to prove that there is a causative linkage between the growing incidence in childhood neurological problems and heavy metals emissions from burning coal and high sulfur fuel oil. Affordable fuel and electricity is at the foundation of a modern economy. Raising the cost of electricity and transportation has real negative consequences. Inflation and unemployment hurt children too.

Personally, I don’t like the above argument. If inflation and unemployment are the consequence of responsible combustion of fossil fuels – so be it. On the other hand, surely we can find a way to subsidize clean energy while reducing inflation and unemployment in the process.

What can be done in the meantime? Vitamin C is known to facilitate children’s natural defenses against heavy metal poisoning. The body can find poisonous metals, dissolve them, and urinate them away. This process can be thought of as a subset of wound healing. In this case, the wound is a heavy metal lodged in body tissue. B-complex vitamins are known to be involved in many of the metabolic pathways responsible for wound healing. It is not unreasonable to speculate that taking extra vitamin C and extra B-complex vitamins can help prevent trace heavy metals in the environment from harming children. Dosage recommendations for vitamin C, B-complex vitamins, niacin, and multivitamins can be found in many of the columns below.

There are many side effects associated with vitamins, and children taking extra vitamins should be monitored regularly by parents and pediatricians. This extra effort seems to me to be a small price to pay for some insurance against the terrible problems heavy metals can cause.

Extra Vitamins and the Health and Intelligence of Children – Testing the Hypothesis

The debate is over. Doses of vitamins that exceed the amount in the typical diet of the healthiest Americans have been proven to be safe and effective treatments for the following conditions:

 Extra niacin raises good cholesterol and lowers bad cholesterol
 Vitamin C reduces the duration and severity of colds
 Vitamin C heals burns with less scarring
 Vitamins A, C, and E applied as a cream protect skin from the sun
 Each vitamin cures the deficiency disease with which it is associated

Vitamins are more important for children than for adults. In addition to maintaining health, fighting infections, and healing wounds, vitamins are required for the myriad of metabolic pathways orchestrating growth and development. Once adulthood is reached, most errors that occur during growth and development can no longer be fixed. Now that the safety and effectiveness of extra vitamins has been proven, parents and pediatricians are obligated to explore the potential for extra vitamins to improve the health and development of children.

This is not an easy task. Vitamins, like drugs, are associated with side effects. In fact, because almost every cell in the body is dependent upon almost every vitamin, there are long lists of suspected side effects. The best book that I know of on this subject is “The Right Dose – How to Take Vitamins and Minerals Safely” by Patricia Hausman. I continually monitor the internet (e.g. I type B vitamin side effects into internet search engines) for reports of vitamin side effects and occasionally come across claims of side effects that are not included in Hausman’s book.

The primary responsibility of parents and pediatricians is to do no harm. The easy way out – do nothing – can no longer be supported by the known science of vitamins.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Vitamin C and Niacin – A Highly Effective Treatment for Colds

I wrote in an earlier column that my family has 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 take 10 to 25 gm/day of vitamin C in multiple divided doses. We use single daily doses of niacin between 100 and 250 mg. We ordinarily use niacin only two or three times because by the third or fourth 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.

Vitamin C is clinically proven to reduce the duration and severity of colds and is taken by hundreds of thousands in doses of 5 to 100 gm/day for this purpose. Niacin is clinically proven to lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol and is also taken by hundreds of thousands. Both vitamins are safe at the doses recommended here. Side effects, when they appear, are temporary and manageable. The combination of vitamin C and niacin can be tried without fear.

Since writing my first column, I have gotten feedback that this remedy really works. I’ve also been told that the treatment idea is new. No one seems to know anyone who has tried this combination of vitamins before specifically to fight colds. Vitamins are so old, and have been the subject of so much advocacy, that it had not occurred to me that I might be on to something really new. Inspired by this thought, I went to internet search engines to see what I could find. I found my own column as the top hit when searching niacin and colds.

The truth about vitamins is that the benefits they provide tend to be imperceptible and are sustained for a long period of time after supplements are stopped. Nothing obvious tends to happen when vitamins are taken and nothing bad ordinarily happens when supplements are stopped. This new idea of using vitamin C and niacin to fight colds is different. Something obviously good happens when the vitamins are taken. The head decongests, aches and pains subside, and a normal energy level is restored. Unlike other vitamin treatments, perhaps this one will catch on sufficiently to win over even hardened vitamin skeptics. I haven’t ever received mail about a vitamin treatment that has made me so hopeful. Keep the feedback coming.

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.

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, the proposal that high doses might be effective for colds merits a fair hearing.

If colds cause you enough trouble to make taking extra vitamin C worthwhile, consider adding in some extra niacin. There’s nothing to lose.