Saturday, April 11, 2009

Prevent Anorexia with Thiamine, Niacin, Vitamin D, & Vitamin C: Start with Female Athletes

The hypothesis that anorexia is caused by vitamin deficiency is being tested. Read more here. More and more parents concerned about the eating habits of their children are providing them with some or all of the following vitamin recommendations:

Thiamine: 100 mg of thiamine hydrochloride per day, and one 50 mg enteric coated TTFD (fat-soluble thiamine) twice per week
Vitamin D: full body sunshine (5-10 minutes per side) at least three times/week. Dark-skinned children need more sun than is practical and can take 1000 IU/day of vitamin D under the supervision of a pediatrician
Niacin: one 250 mg time-release niacin twice per week
Vitamin C: 2000 mg daily with breakfast and dinner
Multivitamin: one per day

The reports are trickling in. Children and teenagers taking these vitamins do not develop serious eating disorders. When the hypothesis was first posted here over two years ago, it was a hypothesis. Now it is a successfully tested hypothesis. The vitamins have been 100% effective in the small sample of children tested. I don't expect anyone to take my word for it. I expect readers to try the vitamins and observe the results. Sadly, the vitamins will not be effective for everyone, and general success will provide little comfort to the parents of the small fraction of children who become anorexic despite the vitamins.

The group that deserves the most attention is female athletes. Disordered eating is epidemic among female athletes. Here is the relevant quote from the Manual of Sports Medicine:

"The true prevalence of disordered eating in athletes is unknown. Based on a series of small studies there is reported 15 to 62% prevalence in female athletes. A higher prevalence of disordered eating is often noted among participants in certain sports in which subjective judging and aesthetics are important (gymnastics, dance, figure skating, diving) and sports in which peak performance is associated with low body fat (running - especially distance running - and swimming)."

Teachers, parents, and coaches for these sports should be made aware of the link between vitamin deficiency and eating disorders. If these statistics are even remotely correct, every community of gymnasts, dancers, skaters, divers, runners, and swimmers has members at risk of anorexia but not yet anorexic. The vitamins do not cure anorexia - they prevent anorexia. With luck, some teams will start taking the recommended vitamins. They will be like the first ships that sailed with foods rich in vitamins to test the hypothesis that vitamin C prevents scurvy. Within one year these teams will see for themselve the effectiveness of the vitamins for preventing anorexia.

The fact that female atheletes have a much higher prevalence of anorexia is even more support for the vitamin deficiency hypothesis. Anorexia is a known clinical marker for beriberi - the thiamine deficiency disease. Thiamine deficiency is known as "high calorie malnutrition". Thiamine requirements depend upon the amount of carbohydrate calories burned. Some very rare individuals simply can't burn too many carbohydrate calories without developing symptoms of thiamine deficiency no matter how much thiamine they supplement. Beriberi was epidemic amongst slave populations and prisoners of war fed low fat diets and forced to do alot of hard labor. Female athletes are unwittingly emulating these behaviors and suffering the same consequences.

There's no reason to read and wonder. The hypothesis that vitamins prevent anorexia is easily tested. Get female gymnasts, dancers, skaters, divers, runners, and swimmers to try the vitamins. There's much to gain and nothing to lose. In a few short months the prevalence of anorexia on these teams drops or it doesn't. It's working in our community. Science suggests that it will work in yours too.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Niacin, Thiamine - The Benefits (Prevent Cavities) are Worth the Side Effects

Vitamin D, vitamin C, niacin, and thiamine are special because they prevent the only four deadly pandemic deficiency diseases to afflict human populations. I have concluded that cavities and gum diseases are caused primarily by deficiency of these four vitamins - an easily tested conclusion. If correct, it means that we are living in a time of epidemic vitamin deficiency. If you are looking for good doses to start with, click here.

I learn about vitamin benefits primarily by frequenting websites like www.doctoryourself.com and www.vitamindcouncil.org and www.orthomolecular.org. I then use google scholar, Medline, and SCIFINDER scientific literature databases to test interesting claims found at these websites. By and large these sites recommend high doses of vitamin D, vitamin C, niacin, and thiamine and claim that vitamin side effects are not a serious problem.

I learn about vitamin side effects primarily by frequently mainstream medicine websites like Mayoclinic.com and www.emedicine.medscape.com. Mainstream medicine is highly knowledgable and vocal about vitamin side effects.

As a professional scientist, I can say with certainty that vitamin side effects are reliable, reproducible, and unambiguously caused by the offending vitamin. I can also say with certainty that benefits from high doses of vitamins are very difficult to prove. They are not reliable, reproducible, or unambiguously caused by the vitamin. Fully appreciating and quantifying benefits from high doses of vitamins is difficult science. It has taken me 14 years of study to come forth with an easily tested hypothesis that can prove that society will benefit from making the effort to recommend doses of vitamin C, vitamin D, niacin, and thiamine that balance benefits with side effects. It is not possible to gain full benefits for individuals who need higher doses without causing side effects for individuals who need lower doses. I led off with the testable hypothesis:

Cavities and gum diseases are caused primarily by deficiency of vitamin D, vitamin C, niacin, and thiamine

The doses I recommend to test the hypothesis are:

Vitamin D - White skinned individuals: Between 10 and 20 minutes of noontime sunshine at least 3 days per week wearing a bikini or equivalent (no more, no less). Dark skinned. 30 minutes to one hour of sunshine at least three days per week (this is impractical advice) or 10 to 20 minutes plus 800 IU/day in supplement form
Vitamin C - 4000 mg/day divided into as many doses as needed to minimize side effects
Niacin - One 250 mg time release tablet per week
Thiamine - One 50 mg tablet of enteric coated TTFD per week plus one 100 mg thiamine tablet per day

The case of vitamin D is maddening. We were meant to get vitamin D from the sun - not from diet. Vitamin D supplements are far more toxic than vitamin D from sunshine. 30 minutes of full summer sunshine produces 10,000 to 40,000 IU of vitamin D - 5 to 20 times higher than supplement doses associated with side effects. People working outdoors must commonly produce more than 2000 IU per day and yet side effects from sunshine are so rare that they are not discussed. So, using supplements alone, it is much more difficult to get full benefits without side effects. The only reliable food source is fish. The efficiency of vitamin D production in the skin depends upon skin color. It is shocking to recognize the fact that dark skinned peoples are not adapted to live indoors and/or at high latitudes. Dark skin at northern latitudes is so debilitating that every ancient population migrating north turned white within a time span perhaps as short as 1000 years.

The doses are designed to be large enough to make a difference and small enough to minimize side effects. Each dose is above the known published threshold for causing side effects (2000 mg/day for vitamin C, 2000 IU/day for vitamin D, 35 mg/day for niacin, no UL for thiamine and TTFD is not approved for use as a thiamine supplement by the FDA despite the fact that it is used to supplement the food supply in Japan). Each dose will cause side effects in sensitive individuals, and each dose will be inadequate to provide full benefits for everyone.

If I am correct, epidemic vitamin deficiency is causing immeasurable suffering. Vitamin side effects are irritating, but easily cured as long as the overdose symptoms are recognized early on and treated promptly by lowering the dose of the offending vitamin.

Vitamin D Side Effects, Toxicity, Overdose Update

I went back and updated my column on vitamin D side effects. If you are taking vitamin D supplements and/or getting alot of sunshine, it is worth rereadinghere.