Demeaning Dietary Supplements - Dr. Carolyn Dean MD ND

Demeaning Dietary Supplements

January 13, 2019
How can nutrients that the body requires for every breath we take, every move we make, and every thought we have be so misunderstood by doctors? When I first began taking a close look at magnesium in the late 1990s I was astounded at what it can do – and I remain astounded as the research on magnesium continues to reveal its miraculous properties.
But instead of studying nutrients and learning how to work with them to make us healthier, doctors persist in dismissing nutrients and supplements as if they are at the same time both worthless and dangerous. 
The Orthomolecular Medicine News Service every year or two publishes  “No Deaths from Supplements. No Deaths from Minerals. No Deaths from Amino Acids. No Deaths from Herbs”. The information for these articles is collected by the U.S. National Poison Data System, and published in the journal Clinical Toxicology. Compare this statistic to the hundreds of thousands of prescription drug deaths and the million+ annual iatrogenic deaths. Is medicine trying to distract us from what they are doing with drugs and make supplements the bad guy. 
People are still conditioned to trust doctors, so when doctors write articles that say “More Bad News About Dietary Supplements”, “Dietary Supplements Don’t Prevent Chronic Disease”, “Pricey Pee: Time to Regulate Vitamin and Dietary Supplements”, some people actually believe them and distrust dietary supplements. The latest article “More Bad News About Dietary Supplements” assumes that we already know that dietary supplements are “bad news” and buries the coffin a little deeper. 
The article focuses on weight loss and body building supplements where drugs and banned raw ingredients are used by unscrupulous manufacturers. I agree that those companies should not be in business but why paint all companies with the same brush?
Most articles make the following point: 
1. A survey by the Council for Responsible Nutrition, found that more than three quarters of US adults reported taking over-the-counter dietary supplements. 
We never learned about dietary supplements in medical school and we were told that if you didn’t learn something in school, then it’s quackery. So most doctors are afraid of supplements and seek every opportunity to discredit them.
2. The FDA’s legal authority to oversee the supplement industry is far inferior to its power to regulate the pharmaceutical industry. 
Just look how well that’s working with the drug industry and the horrendous numbers of iatrogenic deaths and almost 100 Drug Recalls in 2018.
3. Unlike new prescription drugs, supplements do not need to be submitted to the FDA for review of their efficacy and safety before being marketed and sold. 
If the FDA were truly reviewing drug efficacy and safety then drugs would be working and there would be no side effects. 
The author of “More Bad News About Dietary Supplements” gave some advice to his fellow doctors to:
1. Counsel patients without a clear medical indication for a particular supplement that they are wasting their money and exposing themselves to harm from interactions with prescription drugs.

Where is the scientific proof for those assertions?

2. Advocate for your state medical society and national specialty organization to demand legislation to give the FDA the authority and resources to ensure the safety and quality of supplements before they go on the market, not only after consumers experience avoidable harm.
I say they should demand that of the drug industry before going after the supplement market.
It’s all very sad that the “authority” that doctors wield is being used to make patients afraid of supplements that may be helping them stay healthy. Of course, I have my set of grievances against supplement companies that make cheap, unabsorbable, unnecessary supplements. But at least they aren’t killing people. 
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Carolyn Dean MD ND
The Doctor of the Future®

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