Sunday, May 13, 2007

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.

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