Embarking on a journey toward holistic well-being often involves a multifaceted approach, with nutrition supplement therapy emerging as a pivotal component in achieving optimal health. In today’s fast-paced world, where our diets may fall short of providing all the essential nutrients, supplement therapy steps in to bridge the nutritional gaps and support our bodies in functioning at their best. We delve into the intricacies of nutrition supplement therapy, exploring its benefits, considerations, and how integrating these supplements intelligently can contribute to a proactive and preventive approach to health. Let’s navigate the realm of nutrition supplements to unlock the keys to a vibrant and nourished life.
“It is not enough for a cancer patient to receive appropriate conventional therapy for his or her disease. To improve quality and quantity of life a regimen of good nutrition is essential.” Linus Pauling, PhD, twice Nobel laureate
Cancer Patients and Nutrition Supplement Therapy
Cancer patients probably need more nutrients than can be obtained even from a healthy diet. No supplement is a magic bullet against cancer. While nutrition products need to be taken with professional guidance, the risk-to-benefit ratio heavily favors the use of supplements for most cancer patients. Supplements can:
- stimulate immune function
- encourage “suicide” (apoptosis) in cancer cells
- improve cell-to-cell communication
- reduce the toxicity of chemo and radiation on the patient.
- take nutrition supplements in the proper ratio, i.e. zinc to selenium
77% of Americans take some nutrition supplement. 84% of those users express satisfaction with the safety and efficacy of their supplements. The dietary supplement industry sells about $122 billion in product to Americans annually. The medical and pharmaceutical industries have made enormous efforts to discredit this health arena through lobbying to get supplements only available through prescription or media coverage of only negative issues with supplements.
RDA and Nutrition Supplement Therapy
92% of Americans DO NOT GET the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA, now called Reference Daily Intake, or RDI) for all listed essential nutrients. And there is compelling evidence that the RDA is a survival level for nutrient intake, not a level that allows for optimal health, nor recovery from cancer.
There are now over 50,000 scientific references that support the use of supplementing a good diet with vitamins, minerals, herbs, fatty acids, glandulars, probiotics, and food extracts in order to prevent or even reverse many common ailments.
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Notice the additional vitamins and minerals that are added to dog and cat food. Look at the amazing assortment of vitamins, minerals, herbs, etc; that are offered for horses. None of these products are sold due to the “placebo” effect, or simply because the animal believed in the product. Nutrients, like drugs, have a dose-dependent response curve. Meaning, the more you give, the greater the effect, until additional benefits taper off and toxicity becomes possible.
Beyond Deficiencies: Meta-Nutrient Functions
For instance, at 20 milligrams of niacin per day, most adults have decent, normal health. At 100 mg/day of niacin, this B-vitamin becomes a powerful dilator of blood vessels and may improve circulation. At 2,000 mg/day, niacin becomes a potent agent at lowering cholesterol in the bloodstream of people with hypercholesterolemia. Most adults can survive on 20-40 mg daily of vitamin C. The RDA is 60 mg, while studies show that women can lower their risk for cervical cancer by 50% simply by taking 90 mg of vitamin C daily. At 300 mg/day, vitamin C has been shown to add 6 years to the lifespan of male supplement users.
People with virus infections or cancer have benefitted by taking 1,000 to 20,000 mg of vitamin C daily. Show me a drug that you can take 100 times the normal prescription dosage and not have some serious harmful effect. The point is: “While nutritional supplements are far from cure-alls, they do rate very favorably on the risk-to-benefit-to-cost scale when compared to prescription medications.
All substances consumed–from chemotherapy to allopathic drugs to vitamins, minerals, herbs, and even food–all have a “window of efficacy”. Above that level is too much and may cause damage. Below that level is probably ineffective. With drugs, the window of efficacy is much narrower and, hence, great caution must be used in administering prescription medication. All nutrients have a wider window of efficacy than all drugs. Yet some nutrients are more likely to harm than others. Iron, copper, selenium, and vitamins A and D are the nutrients that must be used with discretion. Most other nutrients are unlikely to harm.
Risks of Nutrition Therapy
In an extensive review of the literature found in the New York Academy of Sciences textbook BEYOND DEFICIENCIES (vol.669, p.300, 1992), Dr. Adrienne Bendich found the following data on nutrient toxicity:
- B-6 can be used safely for years at up to 500 mg (250 times RDA)
- Niacin (as nicotinic acid) has been recommended by the National Institute of Health for lowering cholesterol at doses of 3,000-6,000 mg/day (150-300 times RDA). Time-release niacin is more suspect of causing toxicity as liver damage.
- Vitamin C was tested in 8 published studies using double-blind placebo-controlled design. At 10,000 mg/day for years, vitamin C produced no side effects.
- High doses of vitamin A (500,000 iu daily) can have acute reversible effects. Teratogenecity (birth defects) is a possible complication of high dose vitamin A intake.
- Vitamin E intake at up to 3,000 mg/day (300 times RDA) for prolonged periods has been shown safe.
- Beta-carotene has been administered for extended periods in humans at doses up to 180 mg (300,000 iu or 60 times RDA) with no side effects nor elevated serum vitamin A levels.
In MICRONUTRIENTS AND IMMUNE FUNCTION (NYAS, vol.587, p.257, 1990), John Hathcock, PhD, a Food and Drug Administration toxicologist, reported the following data on nutrient toxicity:
- Vitamin A toxicity may start as low as 25,000 iu/day (5 times RDA) in people with impaired liver function via drugs, hepatitis, or protein malnutrition. Otherwise, toxicity for A begins at several hundred thousand iu/day.
- Beta-carotene given at 180 mg/day (300,000 iu or 60 times RDA) for extended periods produced no toxicity, but mild carotenemia (orange pigmentation of skin).
- Vitamin E at 300 iu/day (30 times RDA) can trigger nausea, fatigue, and headaches in sensitive individuals. Otherwise, few side effects are seen at up to 3,200 iu/day (320 times RDA).
- B-6 may induce a reversible sensory neuropathy at doses of as low as 300 mg/day in some sensitive individuals. Toxic threshold usually begins at 2,000 mg for most individuals.
- Vitamin C may induce mild and transient gastro-intestinal distress in some sensitive individuals at doses of 1,000 mg (16 times RDA). Otherwise, toxicity is very rare at even high doses of vitamin C intake. More on vitamin C in the chapter on vitamins and the chapter on Rational Cancer Treatment.
- Zinc supplements at 300 mg (20 times RDA) have been found to impair immune functions and serum lipid profile.
- Iron intake at 100 mg/day (6 times RDA) will cause iron storage disease in 80% of population. The “window of efficacy” on iron is probably more narrow than with other nutrients.
- Selenium can be toxic at 1-5 mg/kg body weight intake. This would equate to 65 mg/day for the average adult, which is 812 times the RDA of 80 mcg. Some sensitive individuals may develop toxicity at 1,000 mcg/day.
Nutrition Supplement Therapy: Choosing Your Vitamin Supplements
There are many vitamins, minerals, botanicals (herbs), fatty acids, food extracts, glandulars, and other nutrient compounds that can be of benefit to the cancer patient. You may take all of these “a la carte” at a cost of $1,500-$2,000 per month and 200+ pills per day, or you may consider using the ImmunoPower Gold supplement (ImmunoPower.com), which is a mixture of 35+ nutrition factors, all in powder form, that is much more convenient, complete, and cost-effective than the usual “life and death scavenger hunt” that cancer patients have embarked upon.
Vitamins can be expensive, especially since these are “out of pocket” expenses, meaning not reimbursable by insurance companies. Odd how insurance and Medicare will pay $3,000 per day for a cancer patient in intensive care, but neither will pay for nutrition supplements that might prevent the patient from developing malnutrition (cachexia) and ending up in the intensive care unit of a hospital. Choose the supplement regimen that best suits your ability to tolerate vitamins and your ability to pay for them.
Excerpted from Beating Cancer with Nutrition by Patrick Quillin, PhD,RD,CNS