Posted April 18, 2011: by Bill Sardi

    According to a recent government report, which pharmaceutical companies will surely use to develop counter strategies, the use of dietary supplements is at an all-time high and rising. About 50% of the American public now uses dietary supplements.

    One doesn’t know whether to declare this achievement a failure in the midst of widespread nutrient deficiencies, or a meaningful sign that the doctors and patients are adopting nutrient-based therapies.

    That people are taking vitamin pills is one thing, that they are taking the right doses and forms of nutrients is another. Most supplement users have been herded into taking no more than 100% of the Recommended Daily Allowance, which is the level to avoid a frank nutrient deficiency for perfectly healthy adults, not the level for optimal health. The RDA does not apply to growing children, pregnant females, smokers, diabetics, the hospitalized, or people taking many drugs, which comprises a strong percentage of supplement users.

    The very fact that the biological action of most prescription drugs can be duplicated with commonly available food supplements is hidden from view as modern medicine continues to maintain it holds high scientific ground compared to dietary supplements which are allegedly not backed by science and not approved by the FDA. (Recall that Vioxx, an FDA-approved anti-inflammatory drug, needlessly killed over 20,000 Americans and FDA-approved statin drugs were found to be ineffective in lowering mortality rates for coronary artery disease.)

    Often drugs are inappropriately prescribed to make up for symptoms caused by a nutrient deficiency. For example, how many Americans are placed on antidepressants when they have a folic acid or vitamin D deficiency? How many Americans are placed on diuretics or digitalis for heart failure when their problem emanates from a vitamin B1 shortage? (Sadly, both of these drugs further deplete the humnan body of vitamin B1.) How many vitamin C-deficient heart disease patients are inappropriately placed on liver-toxic statin drugs?

    As long as Medicare and private insurance plans pay for medications with low deductibles ($2 to $5 per prescription) retirees on limited incomes opt for drugs over supplements because they have been cheaper.

    Furthermore, with drug patent expirations, many drugs will be cast into generic drug status and become even cheaper. Recently 11 patents have expired on drugs from big pharmaceuticals companies, representing an estimated $50 billion of sales. So prices on those drugs should decline by about 95%, a good thing for consumers.

    But supplement use continues to grow. This may be due, in part, to drug side effects which cause patients to stop taking prescription medications.

    Growth in supplement sales doesn’t necessarily mean supplement use has become widespread enough to reduce the level of disease in the population at large. While a record amount of vitamin D is being sold in retail stores, around $430 million of vitamin D annually, this only represents ~$1.40 per year per capita, a paltry amount compared to the large number of vitamin D-deficient people in the population. An estimate by this journalist shows ~$4 trillion of health expenses could be avoided over a decade by vitamin D food fortification or supplementation programs. But so far, there is no impetus from public health officials to make vitamin D sufficiency an objective in healthcare reform.

    While modern medicine continues to look down its nose at vitamin pills, or recommend ineffective supplements (Centrum, calcium pills and an aspirin), every study shows Americans do not consume nutrient-dense foods and optimal intake levels for vitamins C, D, E, B12 and minerals like zinc and magnesium are only achieved by supplement users.

    Underlying nutritional deficiencies ensure a certain level of nutritionally-linked disease in the population which modern medicine is all too delighted to treat with inappropriate medicines.

    In recent times a number of scientific studies have been published which unfairly portray dietary supplements as being problematic, such as the infamous beta carotene study, which allegedly showed that beta carotene increased the risk for mortality among male smokers. That study was issued in 1994, just prior to Congress approving the Dietary Supplement Health & Education Act. There was no significant increased risk of mortality from beta carotene pills (it was like saying the consumption of two carrots a day would kill smokers). But nonetheless, modern medicine didn’t carefully scrutinize the study.

    Similar studies were published which used slanted data to demonize vitamin C and vitamin E.

    Multivitamins are the most commonly consumed dietary supplements, and pharmaceutical companies offer the most popularly sold brands (Centrum, Theragram), at economical prices. But these brands offer ineffective doses often in poorly absorbed forms.

    Add to this the onerous regulatory climate where supplement manufacturers cannot even say the obvious – that vitamin C prevents scurvy, vitamin B1 (thiamin) prevents beriberi, vitamin B3 (niacin) prevents pellagra, vitamin B12 prevents pernicious anemia and vitamin D prevents rickets. These facts cannot be published on a vitamin pill label. Those vitamin companies who venture to say that any nutrient prevent, treats or cures a disease – even a nutritional deficiency disease – will be sanctioned for making drug claims. However, if these vitamins are molecularly re-arranged into what are called patentable analogs (look-alikes), and they undergo studies that are published, they will be approved as high-priced drugs. This is happening right now as more than ten companies are making vitamin D-like drugs that may soon gain FDA approval. And we wonder why modern medicine costs so much. – © 2011 Bill Sardi, Knowledge of Health, Inc. Not for posting on other websites.


  1. SHELLY Says:
    May 7th, 2011 at 11:59 am

    I havelong read your postings. then for a while i had no internet, now i am back on, and again turn to your research. I live in so cal. and often wish i could bump into you. My biggest question in response to your research would be how do i find out what my body is defficient in? will my regualar physician tell me? also, i may have acquired some allergies. What is the best source for cost effective ways to get the personal info about what my own body needs to be its best? if you have any time to answer this I would be very grateful! Thank you, Shelly


    Reply: well, there are individual demands for nutrients that may be genetically pre-determined, or there may be other factors that increase the need for certain nutrients. For example, a genetically-predetermined need for folic acid is evident from the fact that about a third of the human population does not metabolize folic acid very well. Asians, due to a genetic variance, need more vitamin C. An example of a need for nutrients of a non-genetic origin would be that someone chronically infected with H. pylori would need more vitamin C and a replacement for stomach acid (betaine) since H. pylori shuts off stomach acid secretion. Or any human population that does not get sufficient amounts of mid-day sunlight for prolonged periods of time would need more vitamin D. Any human population that consumes a lot of alcohol, or refined sugar, would be depleted of vitamin B1. Smokers would need more vitamin C. Alcohol abusers would need more magnesium, zinc, and vitamin B1. Strict vegetarians might benefit from supplemental B12, zinc, omega-3 oils.

    The point here is that a good multivitamin should cover all of these vulnerabilities. However, very few multivitamins do. I formulated an iron/copper free multivitamin that should cover most nutritional needs and Purity Products markets it, but I hesitate to mention it here because this website is dedicated to providing commercial-free information and I step over an ethical line here when I begin to promote products I benefit from financially. A brief tip, the Purity Multi is designed for 4-capsules a day intake, but for those who must count their pennies, 2-capsules a day works fine and that would cost about $12 a month. Please recognize, you just got a sales pitch.

    To go on here, there are also overt signs of nutritional deficiency, such as dry skin, dry eyes, brittle nails = shortage of essential oils (borage or black currant seed oil is usually recommended). Easy skin bruising, bleeding gums, fatigue, high cholesterol, anemia, are overt signs of vitamin C deficiency. Short-term memory loss, sore tongue, burning feet, fatigue, backaches, dizziness when arising from a chair (postural hypotension) = vitamin B12 deficiency. Premature graying of hair, pain (can be confused with arthritis), symptoms of fibromyalgia (it hurts when someone pokes a finger into your skin), diarrhea-like symptoms (confused with irritable bowel), nerve tingling, nerve numbness (loss of sensation in hands or feet), back-and-forth horizontal eye twitching (nystagmus), mental or speech confusion, fast heart rate, heart failure, shortness of breath, swelling of lower legs = shortage of thiamin (vitamin B1); anxiety, hyperactivity and restlessness with constant movement, panic attacks, agoraphobia, and premenstrual tension, chronic headache (including ocular migraines where you see fluttering light flashes in your side vision), photophobia, sensitivity to loud noises, excessive perspiration, craving for salt, calcifications (mitral heart valve prolapse), leg cramps, insomnia = magnesium deficiency; fatigue or need for frequent napping, accompanied by pale skin, cold fingers and toes, leg cramps in bed at night, craving for ice chips or acid foods (example: tomatoes), shortness of breath = iron deficiency. Knowing some of these signs of common nutrient deficiencies is better than a blood test since we can’t go running to do the doctor for tests all the time and many times blood tests do not reveal a true deficiency, which is the case for B12, magnesium and other nutrients. One problem is that doctors look at your blood numbers and determine you fall in the normally-occurring range (reference range) for a certain nutrient, but maybe nearly everyone is deficient, which is often the case for vitamin C, D, B1, B12, etc. The “reference range” is not the healthy range (why do we have to inform doctors of this?). So if your B12 blood test is normal, you might find taking extra B12 will remedy a variety of symptoms. So much for doctoring. -Bill Sardi

  2. Isabel Says:
    June 14th, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    I would like to be able to email this very interesting article to a few other folk but cannot copy it into an email. Is there a reason for this, e.g., am I not “doing it right” or do you prefer your information to NOT go out to a wider readership? 🙂

    I can of course send the URL – which is what I’ve done re the above article – but most folk I know like to just read the copied information.


    What caused the Knowledge of Health website go exit the web was theft of content. Parties innocently posted my articles elsewhere, not recognizing they were stealing traffic from the Knowledge of Health site (why host a site if its articles are going to be higher ranked on some other site?). A lot of money is made by thieves who post Google ads next to my articles to generate click fees. I’m trying to get information to people without cost or commercial influence. The nearby Google ads make it appear I endorse certain products, which is untrue. The proper way is to send the link to friends and invite them to visit the Knowledge of Health site. If posted elsewhere, I have to hire attorneys to send cease and desist letters to the offenders. – Bill Sardi

  3. Gail Troyer Says:
    August 9th, 2011 at 10:15 am

    I would like to know where to buy good vitamins and minerals? Do you get them from a health food store, Walgreens or online? I would appreciate you suggesting some good companies and brands. Thanks so much?


    Now where to locate good vitamins and minerals. Most consumers want good prices and in-stock items that are reliably delivered. Aside from local stores that can provide you with items immediately when you need them, you can try online suppliers like Purity Products (best at multi-ingredient formulas that save money and are high quality), iherb.com that provides many good brands, items are in-stock, delivery is prompt and prices are generally 10% over wholesale. Note: I formulate for Purity Products. – Bill Sardi

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