IN SEARCH OF MAGIC IN PILLS
By Jeremy Smith
Since the dawn of time we have been in search of solutions to heal us faster and make us feel and look younger. We have become a society of easy fixers. Consumers with an insatiableappetite for quick fix solutions who often prefer their solutions in easy to chew or swallow able deliver forms. Some of us are popping daily regimes of multi-vitamins and herbal solutions believing we this process is making our bodies healthier in spite of evidence to the contrary.
Sometimes we are too busy and lazy to take time out from our hurried stressful lifestyles spent consuming low quality, highly manufactured GMO based foods. We continue dumping chemicals in to the very soil our hormone injected farm animals graze on. Yet are puzzled when News stories tell us our children are reaching puberty at ages as early as eleven years old and we are in an epidemic of obesity.
Living lives void of critical daily exercise we have morphed in to an over weight society. Like junkies in need of a fix we await the next magical pill in a bottle to mask over our problems.
Those of us with an MPN are more likely to look for herbal remedies and supplements than the average Dick and Jane. We are on a mission to find anything that will provide us with an advantage in our War on MPNs. Often over looking the fact that science does not support many of the outrageous claims made by Elmer Gantry style CEO’s at the helm of many of the supplement companies.
Today alternative medicines have been receiving wider media exposure and greater acceptance among consumers as we search for ways to combat this growingly unhealthy World we have created. Driven by public relation firms and marketing firms hired by the manufacturers of these alternative products we race like lab rats to the shelves of our local retailers stores to purchase magical creams, potions, herbal and dietary supplements and vitamins. If we have learned anything from the banking crisis with loose regulations and no accountability it is that today’s CEO’s priorities are shareholders first, then employees and at the bottom of the list consumers. So it should be no surprise to you that there is wide variety in the quality if supplements.
Why do we take supplements?
There are a variety of reasons people take dietary supplements, according to research presented by Johanna Dwyer, D.Sc., RD, a Senior Nutrition Scientist at the Office of Dietary Supplements at the NIH. The most common reasons that people give for taking supplements include the following:
Nearly 70 percent of people surveyed believed that vitamins and minerals are effective in preventing disease. They believe supplements make them feel better and give them more energy. Nearly 40 percent of MVM supplement users say supplements do improve their energy and feeling of well-being.
There are specific health issues. More than 50 percent believe that supplements that have been tailored for specific conditions such as heart or bone conditions are important to their health regimen.
They want to treat health issues. One in three MVM supplement users believe that these supplements can actually treat disease.
Dr. Dwyer went on to report that the use of supplements for specific conditions such as cancer, menopause, pain, depression, and others has doubled in the last five years. Women in menopause have significantly increased their use of supplements since 2002 when concerns were released about the safety of estrogen therapy.
Do Supplements/Vitamin actually work?
According to the March 2011 Consumer Reports on Health, an analysis of 67 trials involving 230,000 patient antioxidant supplements had no beneficial effect on mortality. And three antioxidant vitamins, A, E and beta-carotene actually were shown to increase the risk of stress. According to JoAnn Manson. M.D. Chief of Preventive Medicine at Brigham and Woman’s Hospital in Boston, “many of the claims are overblown and unsubstantiated.” Patients “ are often given the impression that supplements work better than they really do.”
NEVER take any supplement or vitamins with out first discussing with your Doctors. Not only do I discuss my supplement and vitamin decisions with my Doctors I insist on lab testing everything I do. And I never introduce something new into my body without first getting the results from the lab and reviewing them with my Doctor so we know if they are effective. Why is all of this important? What if the supplement you are taking changes your HCT? The only way to make sure it’s the supplement is to measure your blood. And if something does work you now have evidence to support it.
Like some MPN patients, I have very low HDL. For those of us with low HDL there are few options out there. Two of the most effective ways to increase your HDL are exercise and fish oil. There is of course niacin but many people do not like the “flushing” experience. I started with an HDL of 16 not very good. After I increased my exercise program I raised my HDL quickly to 21. Then I started fish oil. I went to a vitamin shop and picked up some brands of fish oil. For six months we tested the results with blood tests and reviewed the results with my Doctor. I was able to get my HDL from 21 to 25. Good but not what I wanted
I then spoke with my nutritionist who recommended another brand. My next text my HDL came back at 31. Over time with an increase in my cardiovascular work I raised it to 35. This is a huge increase. I would not have been able to evaluate the effectiveness of the different brands of fish oil without the lab work. So yes supplements do work in some cases but you should also test brands and see if the results you get vary for you.
Most of the vitamins we need to live a healthy life are contained in the organic foods sold at local farmers markets or retailers like Whole Foods. A true deficiency that cannot be replaced by changes to your diet may require supplements. Always choose the organic route if you have the option. If not make sure you choose hormone and antibiotic food choices.
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© Jeremy Smith and MPNforum.com, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jeremy Smith and MPNforum.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.