Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Radical Life Extension....or expensive urine?

Dr. Nancy Sniderman's reference (in a recent NBC Today interview) to vitamin therapy merely generating "expensive urine" reminded me of when I first started taking them more than 33 years ago. It was about three months before my wedding (in August, 1975) that I first met Cecil Warner, a 79-year old friend of my wife's family. He had just returned from playing 9 holes of Golf and then an hour of handball.

As he recounted the day's efforts while on my fiancee's veranda, I asked him how he did it. Where did he get the energy? What was his secret for being so fit (and not looking a day past 59). He said with a broad smile:

"My secret is vitamins. And don't let one damned soul tell you that they don't work!"

Almost from that instant, I became an unapologetic vitamin taker, incorporating them into my regimen along with a daily aspirin (this was long before people were advised to take a daily aspirin). After our wedding, my wife joined me and we have contiued thus for nearly 34 years.

Some years later, 1980 to be exact, I happened to see Durk Pearson - author of many vitamin tracts, books, on a Larry King show while in Port Charlotte, Florida. Pearson extolled the benefits, especially of lecithin and vitamin C. Not so much as cancer cures but rather as preparing the nutrient and health basis to avoid the conditions that may lead to cancer. Durk's theory was that interferon and its use by the body was augmented by a specific vitamin combination that included high doses of vitamin C.

Over the years, we have used Pearson's vitamin and mineral usage prescription, and indeed - saw it heartily endorsed by our (then) primary care physician in 1998. This physician, originally a vitamin skeptic, told me after one annual exam:

"I have finally come around to your way of thinking after doing lots of nutritional studies and seeing just how low in nutrients most modern foods, vegetables are."


So why then the mainstream health media's distrust of vitamins or vitamin therapy and the consistent negative thrust? Most recently, with release after press release inundating the news, slamming vitamins as "a waste of money" and asserting categorically they don't work.

I suspect the real answer goes back to an article I read some years ago, I think in 'Mother Jones' (a progressive magazine) where one economist was quoted as saying the country needs to back off its never-ending campaigns against smokers....and just let them do their thing. His point was that smoking led to much earlier deaths on average, and often before one qualified for any entitlements such as Social Security. Since the entitlements like Social Security and Medicare were "going broke" one needed to indirectly encourage a higher death rate, not a longer lifespan.

I firmly believe that this is at least partly behind the campaign to curb vitamin use. The cognoscenti of the medical matrix are rightly concerned that: a) too many millions are taking vitamins and will likely outlive their money, forcing state support, and b) their purchase of vitamins makes it less likely they will need pharmaceuticals - thereby depleting the coffers of one of the primary political campaign contributors.

Contrary to the critics, as I noted, it isn't that anyone claims vitamins "cure cancer or heart disease" or even mitigates them - but rather that they provide the nutritional basis to avoid all such conditions. As Pearson put it in his interview with King, it is known that interferon can be wielded powerfully to fight most cancers, and it is also the product of taking megadoses of vitamin C (far beyond the MDA level).

All one has to do is examine the foods available to most Americans and then realize they'd likely have to spend 4-5 times more per week than they already do in order to obtain the vitamins and nutrients needed to make vitamin therapy redundant. For many Americans today, this simply is not on, since they can barely afford what they get at the grocers (and many now have to reckon in food stamps too!)

Vitamins provide a relatively economical solution, especially in particular cases such as for vitamin D (now key in preventing colon cancer) and vitamin C. Bottom line, rather than consuming three broccoli crowns, four cabbages, five romaine lettuce heads, and ten oranges per day - one can obtain all the needed nutrients in 1 or 2 vitamin pills.

As for B-complex, I saw the value of those during the early 1970s when I used to visit a friend in the Barbados Psychiatric Hospital. I saw a stress-ridden, overly worried neurotic able to return to her life and put the valium and largatyl aside, thanks to high combined doses of B vitamins (B-6, B-1, B-12, B-3). Needless to say, since we value our mental equilibrium, both my wife and myself have incorporated 50 mg B-complex multivitamins into our regimen. We ignore any and all media reports to the effect that the B-complex combo doesn't work. To us, that is what we expect them to say.

Another aspect of vitamin therapy is one that Pearson emphasized in that 1980 interview on CNN: that is, merely attaining the minimum daily requirements (MDA) is not adequate. Especially in a stress-ridden environment and under those conditions (such as now with this economic meltdown) people need many times more the "minimum" in order to preserve health. Look at it as a far less expensive alternative to therps!

Will the mainstream gurus and sources (like those funded from Big Pharma research) disagree? Of course. This is what we fully expect, after all, since vitamin consumption by large segments of the populace challenges their vested-monied interests.

But just remember what was said earlier concerning the downsides of stopping people from smoking! As for not oultiving your money, the best advice I can give here is: don't invest your hard-earned money in the stock market, unless you can easily afford to lose it.

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