Vitamins, Vitamin C, and Niacin Complement Mainstream Medicine
High potency vitamin supplements have only been available to the consumer for 30 years. The benefits of vitamins are difficult to perceive, and tend to be long-lasting (bad things only happen on rare occasions when vitamin supplements are stopped). The side effects are readily perceived, and can cause intense discomfort. Side effect thresholds vary widely between individuals. Side effect thresholds can also vary widely for an individual changing with age and state of health. It will take a long time for society to optimize the use of vitamins.
If this weren’t enough, vitamin optimization faces political challenges. Despite the fact that vitamins were among the greatest scientific discoveries of the twentieth century, and the fact that numerous Nobel prizes were awarded, vitamin optimization is overseen by the alternative medicine community instead of the mainstream medicine community. This makes vitamins appear unscientific and greatly reduces the funding available for controlled clinical trials.
My view is that vitamins and mainstream medicine are complementary. Vitamins and drugs are usually safe to use together. This is not always the case, so people who want to take high potency vitamins and drugs are strongly advised to consult with their physicians.
I believe that my view is gaining ground. Science has proven the benefits of vitamins in doses well above the RDA as a treatment for five conditions: vitamin deficiency diseases (today that means eating disorders including anorexia and bulimia); colds; heart disease; burns; and skin damage from the sun. Physicians have shown a remarkable lack of interest in the effectiveness of vitamin C for fighting colds. This single topic is of great interest to both the medical community and the public, and attracts far more media attention than any other vitamin-related topic. This leads to the impression that mainstream medicine is not changing its view of vitamins. This is not the whole picture. Cardiologists and cosmetics company scientists have embraced the benefits of vitamins and are developing combinations of vitamins and drugs that clearly combine the benefits of both. This is a promising sign that more and more people will be using more and more combinations of vitamins and drugs to improve health and wellness around the world.