Saturday, January 21, 2012

Vitamins A, B1, B3, C, and D Prevent Joint and Tendon Pain, Hip Replacements, Cavities, Sleep Disorders, Osteoporosis and Accelerate Wound Healing

Epidemics of vitamin deficiency have been regularly occurring events in human history. In the 20th century, the 5 vitamins underlying the majority of epidemics were identified, intensively studied, and manufactured. These five vitamins are vitamin A (the cause of epidemic night blindness, poor immunity, and death from diarhea), vitamin B1 (beri-beri), vitamin B3 (the cause of pellegra), vitamin C (scurvy), and vitamin D (rickets). The low hanging fruit was picked. Death from extreme deficiency was eliminated.

In this light, the fact that America today is in the midst of an epidemic of vitamin deficiency is not shocking, but inevitable. Experts studied the problem, eliminated beri-beri, pellegra, scurvy, and rickets, and declared the problem solved. The focus of the scientific community moved on to new areas.

I started my education about vitamins by reading Linus Pauling's "How to Live Longer and Feel Better" in 1994. To learn more, I searched scientific databases for research papers and review articles to stay up to date. This is a difficult way to have to learn about such and important topic. With this as background, I went and reread my college biochemistry textbook specifically to get a better understanding of how vitamins might influence human metabolism. Unbeknownst to me, in 2003 a textbook - "The Nutritional Biochemistry of the Vitamins" was published. I stumbled across a reference to the book in 2006, bought it, and studied it. To the best of my knowledge, no professional healthcare provider is required to study this textbook to get their degree. This is one obvious root cause of the current poor care being provided by our healthcare system. It's hard to see things that you're not looking for.

During the past couple of decades the incidence of sleep disorders, learning disabilities, diabetes, and heart disease amongst American youth have increased alarmingly. Many investigators have turned their attention to vitamin D and spotlighted the role of chronic deficiency of this hormone in these diseases. Vitamin D is a hot topic in the healthcare industry. Just type vitamin D into an internet search engine to see the flood of data linking low vitamin D hormone levels to the diseases in the title of this post. The best "executive summary" of the importance of vitamin D hormone for health can be found by typing "vitamin D hormone" into google and reading the top hits. A terrific lecture can be found at You-Tube by typing "Stasha Gominak" into the search box.

The great tragedy is that the physicians talking about vitamin D haven't studied "The Nutritional Biochemistry of the Vitamins" and are therefor probably ignorant of the most basic biochemistry of vitamin D. Most are even more ignorant about the other vitamins in the title of the post.

Vitamin D has put me at odds with almost everyone. The "consensus" position of mainstream medicine (if there is such a thing) is that >2000 IU per day by mouth is known to frequently cause toxicity. The unspoken logic is that it is impossible for the optimal dose of a substance to be above the toxicity threshold so therefore the optimal dose of vitamin D has to be below 2000 IU/day. The pro vitamin D healthcare professionals - outside the mainstream - have unleashed a flood of data proving that short term use of 4000-10,000 IU/day of vitamin D by mouth often results in amazing benefits. This group is generally dismissive of the toxicity of vitamin D in this dose range.

I am part of just a handful of folks acknowledging that 4000-10,000 IU/day of vitamin D as a supplement is typically both amazingly beneficial and toxic at the same time. I also believe that 10,000 to 50,000 IU/day of vitamin D obtained by sun exposure (or exposure to artificial sunshine) does not cause vitamin D toxicity. Possible skin damage and skin cancer is different issue. I have happily traded a higher risk of skin cancer to prevent the long list of problems in the title of this post.

The toxicity of vitamin D supplements is solidly based in known biochemistry and clinical data. The East German government mandated supplementation of infants by pediatricians. The practice was discontinued after two decades. Incredibly, vitamin D boosters point to this experience as evidence of the lack of toxicity of supplements. So then - why was the practice stopped? Vitamin D supplements in the form of cod liver oil have been used for hundreds of years. In place after place, the typically dosage recommendation averaged between 500 and 2000 IU/day. Calcium with vitamin D is a ubiquitous supplement. Following the directions on a typical supplement lands the user in the range of 500-2000 IU/day. The British government spiked milk at 200 IU/cup and later cut back to 100 IU/cup because of toxicity. A 1 gm pill of pure vitamin D will send every human being to the emergency room within hours. Vitamin D is on the list of "particularly hazardous chemicals" in my lab because it is an "acute toxic". Vitamin D is the active ingredient in a common rat poison that continues to be used today because it's safe for most other animals at a dose that's lethal to rats.

I believe that elevated levels of vitamins are particularly useful for healing wounds. I have a very broad definition of wounds. The type of wound that is epidemic are wounds caused by bacteria, viruses, and other difficult to detect pathogens. Microbes are believed to aggravate at least a minority of cases of almost every chronic disease. Working together, antibiotics taken with extra vitamins A, B1, B3, C, and sunshine (vitamin D) are often showing obvious effectiveness before mainstream doctors have finished testing for causes. When I'm getting over a bad cold, I will take 20,000 to 50,000 g of vitamin C (20 to 50 1 g pills a day) and 400 to 2000 mg of niacin (4 to 20 100 mg pills per day) for just a couple of days. Then I return to my normal dose of none on some days and 2000 mg of vitamin C and 100 mg of niacin on other days. I've posted previously on vitamins and wound healing. Of all the things I've said, I'll repeat that the Orlando Medical Center now uses 100 g/day of vitamin C by IV as it's best practice for severely burned patients. Some day they will add extra niacin, vitamin A, thiamin, and sunshine - it's just a matter of time.

Aging comes to everyone. Today, it's often tough. I'm turning 50 this year, and look around my family with dismay. Everyone else in my family my age or older has serious health problems. What is this myth about living healthier lives? Yes we are living longer. To me, this is not good. We're living longer and longer in poorer and poorer health addicted to pills that, by not addressing the root cause of vitamin deficiency, inevitably lead to more pills, and then more pills. Then lots of pain killers for the last few years.

Until there is a consensus that vitamin deficiency contributes in a major way to the modern epidemic of pill dependence in the >50 population, this is the future for most of our children. A small minority will utilize the full power of vitamins and modern medicine, and will break records for health and wellness in extreme old age. This is a shame, because sunshine and vitamins A, B1, B3, and C are safe and readily available. You don't need help from a medical professional. The data is everywhere you look. There's much to gain and little to lose by giving vitamins and sunshine a try.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sunshine via Sunlamp, Niacin, Vitamin C: A Personal Story of a Fight with a Cold

I fear that the healthcare complex - from medical experts to parents - are mishandling vitamin D. I'll be the first to state that I don't know no how to help anyone - forget knowing how to help everyone. Vitamin D is an important hormone - like estrogen and testosterone. It's biochemistry is complex and only dimly understood. My first objective is to help myself. Here's what I did when I felt like I was coming down with a cold last fall.

It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon in early November. I had to fly to Houston for business, and was afraid that I would catch a cold on the plane because I frequently come down with a cold after traveling on an airplane - especially in the wintertime. I have come to believe that vitamin D is boosting my immunity to colds, and that supplements and sunshine have reduced the frequency and severity of colds. I can't prove it, but I believe it. So I wanted to get on the plane brimming with vitamin D. On Sunday morning I got under a UVB sunlamp when I woke up at 6:30 am, again at 8:30 am, and then again at 10:30 am. I do this by undressing to my underwear and lying prone 3 feet under a 160 watt broadband UVB lamp. I lie on one side and count 80 heartbeats. Then I roll on my face, count another 80 heartbeats. Then onto my other side for 80 heartbeats and finally onto my back for 80 heartbeats. I do my best to evenly distribute the light across my body from head to toe. It was a beautiful day. At 1 pm I sunbathed on my porch - 5 minutes on each side. I have found this to be approaching the limits of what I'm willing to do. At this point, any additional sunshine or time under the lamp makes my skin start to feel like it is beginning to burn.

At 2 pm my limo picked me up. I went to the airport feeling fine. Before boarding the plane, I took 4000 mg of vitamin C and 100 mg of straight release niacin. I took another dose of the same size on the plane flight. I recall a pleasant flight to Houston.

At dinner that evening - 8 pm time at my local airport - I felt minor pain in my sinus and jittery - symptoms I associate (without any convincing data) with being exposed to a cold virus. I took another 4000 mg of vitamin C, 100 mg of niacin, and an ibuprofen tablet. I slept very poorly with steadily worsening sinus pain. I had no other symptoms. I took vitamin C and niacin throughout my Monday meeting in Houston, and kept the sinus pain under control with ibuprofen. At 1 pm during my meeting, I got out into the sun for 30 minutes - which made me feel obviously better. Monday evening I was back on a plane traveling home, taking 2000 mg of vitamin C and 100 mg of niacin every 2 hours. I was in alot of pain by the end of the flight - and very happy to be home. As soon as I arrived - 11 pm Monday night - I got under the lamp. Again, I felt like the lamp made me feel immediately better. I had a second restless night and awoke Tuesday morning exhausted and still with sinus pain - but no other symptoms. I got under the lamp as soon as I awoke, and took more vitamin C, niacin, and ibuprofen. I went off to a 7:30 am meeting with no symptoms other than sinus pain and fatigue. At 9:30 am I came home for another session under the lamp. After this light session, I felt obviously better - the sinus pain was subsiding. At 1 pm I got another session of light, and yet another at 5 pm. I felt well enough to join my colleagues at our team dinner at a local restaurant. I came home, got another session of light, and went to bed. I woke up on Wednesday morning, and felt basically normal. Starting Wednesday morning I reverted to my regular habits when I am feeling well - 2000 mg of vitamin C and 100 mg of niacin in the morning and two sessions of light - 1 in the morning and one between 11 and 1 pm.

I know some readers will look at this post and say, "All that effort and you still got sick on the airplane? It's probably the vitamins making you sick and not a cold at all." What can I say? My teeth and skeletal health are my source of comfort. I have had bad teeth my entire life. Now my dental health is excellent. I wasn't able to run 2 miles at a stretch because my arms would hurt. Now that has stopped. Something is making me generally healthier.

Until recently I have avoided discussing my personal stories because stories are just stories - they are not good science. I hope I'm not making a mistake by being more personal.