Sunday, December 29, 2013

Vitamin Supplements are a Waste of Money…

Really??? Yes, and possibly harmful, too.  

Caution - Rant Ahead

This is an overplayed, recurring song that is only destined - as in the past - to cause more confusion about herbal, homeopathic,  natural supplements and remedies that have been around for hundreds of years. I doubt this would be so if these proved to be a hoax. 

I won't link to the new sources to jump on the anti-supplement bandwagon - they're easy to find online - but I will offer a contradiction here.

When I was given instruction sheets to prepare to receive the Aranesp injections to boost the red blood cell count (the one that cost $33K and insurance refused to cover) the second paragraph instructed the patient/recipient to begin to "take iron and B-12 supplements" at least 1 week prior to the treatment. Even offering recommended dosages.

I've also received potassium and B-12 injections at the hospital and cancer center, so I don't understand how supplements can so be harmful. OK, injections are more concentrated and quickly absorbed. but a daily supplement need not be dismissed. 

I know from experience, especially with B-12, my energy level increased to get me through some long, tiring days of summer madness at the restaurant.  Servers and anyone in like circumstances have felt the benefits of ingesting such supplements.  Is this a shared illusion?  

No!  These reports seem to be cyclical; every few years someone (either in media or government) decides they need attention - and this is a good way to get it. (Remember when coffee, eggs, tomatoes, even avocados were bad for your health?  I do.)

Granted, processed fruits and vegetables lose potency normally present in the fresh varieties, but they're still better than none at all. I feel the same about supplements. Face it, I'd have to ingest 6 to 8 bananas or 4 sweet potatoes daily to take in the potassium my body supposedly needs.  That just ain't gonna happen.

I also find this very telling:  When diagnosed (?) I was asked what vitamins and supplements I took daily.  This information was added to my computer profile.  At every subsequent appointment I certify the data is still correct and no changes have been made.   

Since it was no longer advisable to take aspirin daily, it was suggested that Milk Thistle would be a good alternative.  Had never heard of it, but found it and take it daily. So far, so good. Then I was told to add the Iron supplement to the permanent list - by the infectious diseases specialist and the oncologist - who were also adamant about my wearing the medical face mask in public. 

This brouhaha is only the outrage du jour, likely the brainchild of big Pharma as they see their profits dwindle while their prices rise. 

That the media twits offer their personal opinions on this story "oh, I'll have to stop taking _______, it could be dangerous" isn't helpful to the conversation.  Who cares about their personal choices?  Not I, especially if they're that easily dissuaded.   Hey!  Wanna buy a bridge???

No one seems to be asking questions about the study, dosages administered, or how the results were achieved.  In fact, I've heard no questions at all.

I once had a friend who purposely ate nothing but a full case of oranges for 2 days, broke out in hives, and failed his draft board physical. 
(I took the other route, checked the little box, and told them I was gay. The army had me dressed and out a side door in a flash. But that's a story for another time.) 
My friend ended up in St. Vincent's hospital for a week, but didn't get his ass shot off in Viet Nam.  His choice.  

I think we need be more concerned about the side effects of drugs that may harm organs and areas of the body having nothing to do with the ailment for which the drug was initially prescribed.  THAT scares the Hell out of me more than popping a B-12, or Potassium tablet daily. Over dosing is a bitch.  Moderation in all things, moderation.

I've used products from one company for 40 years and I know how my body feels and reacts in certain circumstances.  There is no need to worry.

End Rant Here.

And so it goes.



  1. I couldn't agree more! Starting at age 40, I've take a daily multivitamin (Centrum and/or Spectravite) and an aspirin daily. The aspirin stopped when I went on Coumadin. And if these products don't work, why do they interact with the pharmaceutical variety. I cannot take Ginkgo Biloba for example because it interacts with Coumadin (Warfarin) as do many green vegetables. I could go on and on.

    I take a B12 daily as it improves my mood. And I take prescribed Potassium when I am take diuretics.

    Never heard of eating oranges to avoid the draft. Funny story, if he had not ended up in the hospital. Your method was much easier. I really did not know I was gay at that point in my life, had recently married, and had a new son. I did think about registering as a conscientious objector. My name was never called up because of exemptions for first being a college student, and later for being a father.

  2. I've always questioned the efficacy of taking vitamin supplements because of those I've known who have taken the supplements, I haven't seen any benefit. Not a valid scientific study but that's been my experience. However, I am on an aspirin regimen and have been since I was 17 years old and aspirin was responsible for saving my life when I contacted a staph infection. I say if the supplements work for you, go for it!


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