Saturday, June 09, 2007

Vitamin C, Niacin, Eating Disorders (anorexia and bulimia), and Pregnancy

Fred Klenner and Abram Hoffer, completely independent MD investigators, have both demonstrated that extra vitamins are safe and improve birth outcomes. Hoffer reports that he has persuaded thousands of expecting mothers to take extra vitamins and that his results are statistically significant. I believe him, and yet I do not advise expecting mothers to take Hoffer and Klenner’s advice of 100-200 mg/day of niacin and 5000 to 15000 mg/day of vitamin C. It’s not the standard of care. Expecting mothers are going to have to decide for themselves that the risks and potential benefits of supplementing outweigh the known risks of following the current standard of care. The nature of this decision is changing as the risk associated with having children rises. Expectations for childhood achievement and the incidence of childhood physical and mental health disorders are both rising. Over the past 40 years the number of children designated as in need of special services during their school years has risen from less than 1 in 100 to roughly 1 in 10. Special education and pediatric health care are both booming businesses.

My column on eating disorders has received a surprising amount of attention (type vitamins and anorexia into Google and it is on the front page). Evidently the readers of my column are not afraid to establish links to this column. Their lack of fear is probably related to my lack of fear. I am not afraid to recommend extra vitamins as a treatment for eating disorders. Anorexia is a known symptom of vitamin deficiency. There is a standard of care for vitamin deficiency. When I researched the standard of care for deficiency diseases I came to the following conclusions. Specialists in vitamin deficiency diseases recommend 2000 to 4000 mg/day of vitamin C for scurvy, 100-1000 mg/day of niacin for pellagra, and 50 to 100 mg/day each of vitamins B1 and B2 for beriberi. Since these are the facts, it is hard to understand why my column is the only front page link on the search I mentioned above to directly connect eating disorders with vitamin deficiency diseases and to recommend the established standard of care for vitamin deficiency diseases as part of the treatment regimen.

Today vitamin deficiency in America largely presents itself as self starvation. Tragically, self starvation is most commonly practiced by teenage women and girls. It’s long past time to firmly connect eating disorders and vitamin deficiency diseases in the minds of all parents and health care professionals. Vitamin supplements will then be used in doses according to the standard of care established for vitamin deficiencies as a key part of the treatment for eating disorders. More importantly, vitamin supplements can be used by concerned parents and health care professionals to prevent eating disorders in the first place.

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