Sunday, February 15, 2009

Vitamins Prevent Cavities and Anorexia: Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Niacin, and Thiamine

Prior columns have used available science to support the assertion that optimized nutrition can prevent cavities and anorexia. Read more here, and here . The columns assert that the four vitamins associated with deficiency diseases – vitamin C and scurvy, vitamin D and rickets, niacin and pellagra, and thiamine and beriberi – are special. These simple assertions have not been previously tested. If you are looking for good doses to start with, click here. Neither the healthcare profession nor the public has previously made a concerted effort to use these four vitamins together to optimize health.

Simple bold assertions, once made, are usually tested. It is just a matter of time before there is a consensus. Vitamin C, vitamin D, niacin, and thiamine prevent cavities and anorexia or they don’t. I’m writing today to remind readers that they don’t need to wait for a consensus. They can be part of it. I’m also writing to remind readers that even when there is a consensus, it doesn’t mean that the consensus is right for you. Just because it turns out that these vitamins don’t prevent cavities or anorexia in most people doesn’t mean you might not be an exception. Conversely, just because it turns out that these vitamins indeed prevent cavities and anorexia in most people doesn’t mean that they will work for you. Each person, and each family must, in the end, test the scientific recommendations on themselves.

Anorexia is especially important because the stakes are so high. Anorexia causes many young women a long and painful death stretching over years. Sadder still, interviews with chronic anorexics enables the question to be asked, “Are the incurable anorexics that die young the lucky ones?” If you haven’t personally experienced watching a child die from a painful, chronic disease it is hard to fully appreciate the impact on friends and family. If using vitamin C, vitamin D, niacin, and thiamine are going to reduce the prevalence of eating disorders from the ca. 500,000 cases there are today to below 50,000, it’s urgent to make it happen as soon as possible. Millions of lives are at stake.

Cavities and gum disease are especially important because they are so common and so visible. Cancer, heart disease, and diabetes are complex diseases that are difficult to understand. Patients feel different from day to day for no apparent reason. There is nothing to see. Everyone can understand cavities and gum diseases. Just open your mouth and look. Better yet, you can be highly scientific. Ask your dentist to improve their record keeping. Dentists today routinely archive photographs of your teeth and gums in addition to x-rays. They routinely measure and mark the pockets in the gums around each tooth. They poke the gums and measure the tendency to bleed. Reviewing your own dental records with your dentist is solid science worthy of scientific paper should you or your dentist care to make the effort.

The assertion that vitamin C, vitamin D, niacin, and thiamine prevent cavities is bold. Many will dismiss it outright just on the basis that it is too good to be true. The fact remains, however, that neither the healthcare profession nor the public has previously made a concerted effort to use these four vitamins together to prevent cavities and gum disease. The assertion has been made, and the testing has started. A consensus will be reached.

Cavities and gum disease disproportionately afflict the young and the old. Most of this population is in the care of adults in the prime of life. If you are caring for children and/or parents suffering from cavities and/or gum disease, what are you going to tell them when it turns out that the simple act of providing vitamins available from sunshine and the local store could have prevented the pain and you didn’t act because no one else was acting either. If vitamins were dangerous, expensive, or difficult to obtain, you could tell them it was out of your hands. But none of these things are true. It is, in fact, in your hands.

Acting and not acting both involve risks. Act first and risk the embarrassment of having inconvenienced your children and/or parents with the chore of taking vitamin supplements and getting out in the sun. Don’t act and risk the terrible guilt of learning that you could have saved your loved ones from considerable suffering but did nothing.

I choose to act. If my family suffers from eating disorders, cavities, and/or gum disease, it won’t be for a lack of vitamins. If the vitamins work, it won’t just benefit my family. We will inform the family dentist, physicians, and friends of the results, building consensus instead of waiting for it.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Prevent Cancer and Arthritis in Dogs and Cats: Vitamin C, Niacin, Vitamin D, and Thiamine

The case of my dog is worth reporting. At the age of 9 she was in very poor health. We put her through two surgeries to repair a ligament in each back leg, and a third surgery to remove a cancerous lump from her face. Despite the surgeries, she needed arthritis medication. Her front right leg was becoming lame, and on bad days I had to carry her up and down the stairs. Just over a year ago, after her cancer surgery, I put her on the regimen of four special nutrients that I recommend. These are vitamin C, vitamin D, niacin, and thiamine. My dog weighs 60 pounds. I feed her 2000 mg of vitamin C, 800 IU of vitamin D, 125 mg of niacin, and 100 mg of thiamine two or three times per week. For the first few weeks I fed her these doses almost every day.

Besides the vitamins, little else has changed in my dog’s life. She eats the same food, goes on the same number of walks to the same places, gets petted by the same people the same number of times. So it is hard to attribute her amazing recovery to anything but the vitamins. I was amazed when after 6 months on the vitamins she first jumped up again into the back of my car when I took her for walks. She was running around again like when she was a puppy and I was overjoyed. She would return to the car sore and I’d have to help her into the car. Today, she ran around like a puppy on her walk and jumped back into the car after the walk. During the walk, she came tearing down the hillside and then bounded – stretched out end to end – over a large fallen tree. I had forgotten she could ever do such a thing. More than one year after I started treating her with the vitamins, she is still healing. Chronic diseases get worse so slowly they are often confused with the inevitable effects of aging. Apparently they can improve in a similarly slow fashion making it very difficult to connect the cause (vitamin supplements) with the effect (improved health). With people, it will always be something else. It’s the new diet, new trainer, new job, or the new house. It couldn’t still be the vitamins. We correctly associated pills with drugs. Drugs are pills that are designed to work great the first time and then, if anything, work less well as time passes.

I’ve written extensively about vitamin C, vitamin D, niacin, and thiamine. Read more here, here, and here. I consider these to be four special nutrients. I gave them to my dog because I expected them to help. Single cases provide limited evidence. My dog’s case is worth special reporting because the response is so extreme. I gave her the vitamins because the science has proven they would help her. I recommend the vitamins to people because the science has proven they will help. Cases like my dog are special because they demonstrate just how much improvement lucky individuals can experience. If my dog can experience improvement that is reasonably described as resurrection, the average person can have a lot more confidence that the same vitamins will do them enough good to make it worth the effort.

For dogs and cats, the lesson is much more significant. All pets experience health problems as they age, but do not ordinarily have access to the miracles of modern medicince. My dog was very lucky that we could afford the surgeries. Many pets have owners who can’t and simply deteriorate until the suffering gets so bad that putting them to sleep is at least discussed. Unlike surgery and drugs, vitamins are inexpensive and available to every pet owner and vet. Dog and cat owners and vets have much to gain and little to lose by giving the vitamins a try.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Prevent Cavities and Pale Faces: Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Niacin, and Thiamine

Oral health (the condition of the teeth and gums) is strongly associated with serious health problems. Childhood respiratory infections and other infectious diseases are among these problems. Children with pale faces and dark circles under their eyes have a higher average number of filled cavities than children without them. Counting dental fillings is a good way to assess the risk of childhood illnesses. Childhood illnesses and cavities are strongly associated because they are both partially caused by failure of some of the same basic metabolic pathways inside our cells. Cavities should be taken very seriously. Every effort should be made to prevent them.

The risk of cavities increases with age. The older you are, the more important it is to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Due to aging, it is more difficult to keep your teeth and gums healthy. It is also more difficult to keep your body free of diseases. Poor immunity is difficult to measure, inspect, and quantify. Cavities are obvious. Gum health is obvious. Everyone should be aware that protecting teeth and gums from cavities and periodontal disease also protects them from colds, influenza, and other infectious diseases.

Cavities are caused by poor nutrition. This is a well-documented fact from the 19th and 20th centuries. During this period, dozens of isolated, indigenous populations joined the modern economy. Time and again, when indigenous populations switched to a modern diet, the prevalence of cavities increased dramatically. Subsequent research has proven that the most important “anti-cavity” factors in the indigenous diet/lifestyle are vitamins. Read more here. The recommended daily allowances of vitamins are insufficient to maximize cavity prevention. If you are looking for good doses to start with, click here. Counting cavities is a good way to establish at an early age what individuals in the population need extra vitamins. In old age, the high prevalence of cavities and lost teeth suggests that the recommended daily allowances of vitamins are inadequate for the majority.

Nothing will change the fact that a higher incidence of cavities and lost teeth are part of the aging process. Optimizing vitamin intake will not stop aging. But it will help you to age gracefully. There is no reason for your teeth to age faster than the rest of your body. Our healthcare system provides excellent services for keeping your teeth healthy. By using orthodontia to keep your teeth in the right place, and then by brushing, flossing, fluoriding, and cleaning every three months, properly nourished teeth will last more than 100 years.

The importance of dental health puts the women (there aren’t many men in these jobs yet) who clean our teeth at the forefront of the healthcare system. Twice a year they have a roughly 45-minute opportunity to compare the health of our teeth to our neighbor’s teeth, and then to teach us about best practices for keeping teeth healthy. Vitamin supplements and sunshine have become part of that conversation. The best dental offices are helping their patients adjust vitamin intake.

Most people don’t like talking about the vitamin supplements they are taking. It’s embarrassing. Healthy people shouldn’t need pills. And vitamin supplements – even 1 RDA multivitamins – cause side effects. Admitting to side effects is also embarrassing. The dental chair is proving to be a good place to discuss vitamin supplement strategies to maximize benefits and minimize side effects.

If your children are not taking vitamin supplements, and they are not going out into the sun to get extra vitamin D, then the odds are that their teeth are deteriorating. If their teeth are deteriorating, then your children are at high risk for developing a pale face and dark circles under the eyes. Find a dental office that will help you put together a supplement program for your children that includes vitamin C, niacin, and thiamine. Send your children out into the sun without sun block. Prevent cavities and pale faces at the same time by implementing the program. Measure the results by tracking the health of your children's teeth.