September 6, 2013

Dr. Offit Says NO! to Supplements and Mega-Vitamins

On Monday, July 22, the case for taking supplements and mega-vitamins received yet another blow.

During his appearance in Washington, DC to promote his book Do You Believe in Magic? The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine, Dr. Paul Offit said, "If you take large quantities of vitamin A, vitamin E, beta carotene [or] selenium, you increase your risk of cancer, risk of heart disease, and you could shorten your life."

That warning was pretty blunt.

A researcher at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Offit is perhaps best known for his public debate with actress Jenny McCarthy about possible links between childhood vaccines and autism. McCarthy sounded the alarm; Offit has defended the vaccines.

In arguing his case, Offit assailed the 1994 law that exempts supplements from the same scrutiny the Food and Drug Administration applies to all other medicines. Simply because supplements are “natural” or “botanical,” Offit says, manufacturers shouldn’t be permitted to tout their products’ effectiveness without scientific proof.

Doctors Don’t Help
The problem isn’t simply the law or manufacturers’ profit motives. Offit blames doctors for not being clearer with patients that supplements and vitamin mega-doses can actually cause harm. He’s proud that his own hospital intends to stop dispensing most supplements later this month.

While he has his detractors – like McCarthy -- Offit has his defenders, too. At his DC appearance, former president Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn sat front row center. During Q&A, Carter stood and said to the famous researcher: "You've been a hero around our house for a long time."

Nice endorsement!

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I’ve written often about supplements and the billions of dollars we waste on them.  I've been particularly critical of TV hucksters for supplements like coconut oil.  But I do take three supplements.  Vitamin D, which was prescribed by my doctor when blood test showed that I, like many seniors, was deficient in it.  Curcumin, the active ingredient in the Indian spice turmeric, which has been the subject of more scientific study than any other supplement and shows great promise for treating major diseases like my Parkinson's and prostrate cancer. And 5-HTP, a serotonin-booster, which has worked well for me for years in helping with mood, sleep, and digestive functions

To see more, just enter “supplements” in the search bar at right. Or you can enter any of the supplements I just mentioned

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