This will become more important, as the era of antibiotics and many other drugs becomes less effective. But in this area we have several problems –
Over regulation by governments and the WHO which are funded by drug companies and big business who want to own and control medicine including nutritional supplements. They make legislation that increasingly inhibits incentives for supplement companies to do more research.
Did you know that there is a law that prohibits the reporting of results of clinical trials of complementary supplements in people with health problems and disease? Yes there is such an illogical law that says that such supplements can only be clinically trialled in healthy individuals! Thus it is impossible to make the marketing claims that could help to fund such expensive research.
This is the politicization of nutritional medicine for the benefit of drug companies and government but not patients. Thus we need to become politically active if we want access to good quality supplements
I remember years ago when the statement “vitamins can only be of assistance if the dietary intake is inadequate” became mandatory if vitamins were advertised. I thought to myself that this was a simplistic and misleading statement but it was the law!
I disagreed with it but when I said so on my radio show, I got sacked!
The RDA for vitamins and minerals is a generalised value that does not cater for people’s individual genome, which may contain genes that produce a defective metabolism. For example if someone has inherited the genes for pernicious anaemia they will be unable to absorb vitamin B 12 and will require injections of vitamin B 12. Many people have digestive disorders that preclude adequate absorption of vitamins and minerals and they will need supplementation. Gluten intolerance can cause severe nutritional deficiencies requiring the use of vitamins and minerals and a so called “normal healthy” diet will never be adequate.
I have seen the value of supplementation on many occasions in people who eat a healthy diet. My uncle for example consumed a varied diet and ate enormous amount of foods and yet he suffered with a painful plantar wart that recurred for years despite numerous surgical attempts to eradicate the perky wart. After 8 weeks of high dose selenium (400mcg daily) the wart had disappeared. I suffered with a large painful wart on my finger for 20 years and did not realise that this was a sign of selenium deficiency. I decided to take selenium and after several months the wart had gone. Even my dog Harley, who is fed a perfect diet, was selenium deficient and if I do not give Harley selenium supplements, he suffers with intractable skin rashes and infections.
A Chinese study in people with chronic hepatitis B infection showed that selenium supplementation greatly reduced the development of liver cancer in these patients. Why don’t these findings make the headlines when we have nearly half a billion people in the world who have chronic hepatitis B infection?
Linus Pauling’s claim, that he knew a cure for common degenerative diseases and infections, was greeted with ridicule. His findings concerned vitamin C. Pauling died on the 19th August 1994, and his revolutionary ideas are still not widely known. Linus Pauling was the leading chemist of the last century and remains the only person to have won two unshared Nobel Prizes, the first for Chemistry (1954) and the second for peace (1962). There is no doubt that he was one of the greatest scientists the world of nutritional medicine has ever seen.
By the time of his death, the medical establishment had branded Pauling a quack, because he advocated the use of high doses of vitamin C to treat many diseases. Pauling found that conventional medicine had long ignored research which suggested that high doses of vitamin C might be a cure for many illnesses, including cancer and heart disease. However, when he published his research in his books “Vitamin C and the Common Cold” and “How to Live Longer and Feel Better”, the medical profession was incensed, implying that a mere chemist could not possibly understand the intricacies of medical science.
Pauling battled with the medical authorities and but managed to convince the public of the benefits of high dose vitamin C. He took on the medical establishment because the implication for health was enormous: an end to premature death and unnecessary suffering from heart disease, infection and many cancers. We could take on the health department, the drug companies and the lawyers who work for them and say the same thing about selenium supplements but we are not allowed to – it’s the law! We will be fined enormous amounts of money and so we become afraid. It is sad times when medicine becomes politicized by lawyers and politicians. This attitude fosters a climate of fear and not lateral thinking for the betterment of mankind and future health.
In Europe it has become much harder to purchase nutritional and herbal supplements as new laws were introduced by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) which has made it virtually impossible for supplement manufacturers and distributors to make any meaningful claims for their products. It is incredible to think that the supplement industry in Europe submitted 44,000 claims for their supplements over the last 5 years and yet only 248 were accepted. Well this is protecting the public from ruthless marketing companies – but is it really? People do their own research and can make up their own minds but if the regulations become so onerous that supplements are very expensive for the average person battling to make a living, who can afford their benefits? The new European Union require companies selling health supplements to provide independent scientific evidence to support marketing and packaging claims. The cost of this can be prohibitive for small businesses that have a small range of supplements, so once again big business gets its way and has a monopoly on our health choices. Why can’t these supplement companies use the research that is already available which shows that specific vitamins and minerals have therapeutic or preventative effects? There is excellent research available but we are not allowed to talk about it or use it for public education.
It has been illegal since December 2012 for European supplement manufacturers to include health claims on packaging that are not approved by the European Union. The consumer group called Which, accuses manufacturers in Europe of misleading the public about additional ingredients in their supplements, such as vitamin C, which do not have proven health benefits, to imply that all of the other ingredients are effective. Well this is their interpretation and are these so called experts, lawyers, journalists or scientists? I assume they do not know about the work of Linus Pauling?
For more information on selenium and vitamin C, please visit