Vitamins for Chronic Disease Prevention
in Adults: Clinical Applications

This section is compiled by Frank M. Painter, D.C.
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By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon, PhD
Syndicated Columnists
Seattle Times July 28, 2002

The vitamin wars are officially over. Record the date for posterity: June 19, 2002. That's when the American Medical Association published a radical new recommendation - most Americans should be taking vitamins.

For decades doctors derided those who used dietary supplements. These nutritional nihilists maintained that all we needed was a well-balanced diet and that extra vitamins merely created expensive urine.

Vitamin boosters, on the other hand, asserted that a well-balanced diet was a myth, especially for teenagers, older folks, and busy people who ate on the run. They insisted that vitamin insurance was a good health investment.

Now the Journal of the American Medical Association, a bastion of conservative medical thinking, has come out in favor of vitamins for "chronic disease prevention."

The authors are no granola gurus. These Harvard physicians reviewed the research published on vitamins since 1966.

They conclude diseases such as beriberi and scurvy are rarely seen, many people are at risk of other problems: "Because suboptimal vitamin status is associated with many chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and osteoporosis, it is important for physicians to identify patients with poor nutrition."

The B vitamins are especially significant. Many people are low in folic acid, a nutrient particularly important in preventing birth defects, heart disease, cancer, and perhaps, even Alzheimer's disease.

Tantalizing new research suggests that thiamin (vitamin B1) might be important in maintaining optimal brain function. Vitamin B12 is also critical for nerve function; mild deficiencies are more common among older people and vegetarians than many physicians might realize.

Urologists and ophthalmologists are ahead of many of their colleagues in recommending that their patients take supplements, including vitamins E, C, and zinc.

Cartenoids - red and yellow pigments in vegetables - are also on the short list. Urologists are especially interested in the benefits of lycopene (found in tomatoes) for prostate health.

Eye doctors, on the other hand, praise lutein (found in corn, squash, and other yellow vegetables) for its apparent ability to delay the development of macular degeneration.

Many prescription drugs can interfere with the absorption or utilization of critical nutrients.

Now that the medical establishment has recognized the value of vitamin supplements, the question remains: How much of it will they recommend you should take? (smile)

We'll have to wait for future research to refine the answer, but for now a daily multivitamin makes sense.

These quotes are from this article:

Vitamins for Chronic Disease Prevention in Adults: Clinical Applications
JAMA 2002 (Jun 19);   287 (23):   31273129

Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist. Teresa Graedon holds a doctorate in medical anthropology and is a nutrition exert. Their newest book is the People's Pharmacy Guide to Home and Herbal Remedies



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