Ten Ways to Spot Anti-Vitamin Biases in a Scientific Study

19 08 2009

worm bacteria

So, what’s up with the media and all those scientific studies which prove vitamins are a hoax? That they are actually bad for you? That only patented expensive drugs can cure you? Well, there’s an easy way to find out: follow these guidelines when reading a media piece on Swine flu, or any disease, and/or natural healing, vitamins etc.
Because you can’t rely on the truthfulness of financially dependant doctors, scientist and journalists. But what you can rely on is your own!
In other words:

Think For Yourself!

1. Where’s the beef?
How much of the original study is quoted in the media?  Are you just getting factoids, or are data provided?  Has the journalist writing about the subject actually read the original paper?

2. What exactly was studied, and how?
Was it an IN VITRO (test-tube) study or an IN VIVO (animal) study? Was there a CLINICAL STUDY on people, or is its application to real life a matter of conjecture?

3. Follow the Money.
Who paid for the study? Cash from food processors, pharmaceutical giants, and other deep pockets decides what gets studied, and how.  It is very difficult, if not impossible, for researchers to present findings that embarrass their financial backers. Published research will often indicate sources of funding, possibly at the end of the paper in an acknowledgements paragraph. If not, correspondence addresses of principle authors are invariably provided. Write and ask.

4. Check the dosages.
Any vitamin C study using less than 2,000 mg a day is a waste of time. Any vitamin E study employing less than 400 International Units (I.U.) is a waste of time. Any study using less than 1,000 mg niacin a day is a waste of time. All low-dose studies are set up to fail. Low doses of vitamins do not cure major diseases.  Large doses cure diseases.

5. Check the form of supplement used.
Was the vitamin used in the study natural or synthetic? Any carotene study using the synthetic form of beta-carotene only is a waste of time. Any vitamin E study using the synthetic DL-alpha form (instead of far more effective natural mixed tocopherols) is a waste of time.

6. Use the Pauling Principle: read the entire study and interpret the data for yourself. Do not rely on the summary and/or conclusions of the study authors.  As Linus Pauling pointed out repeatedly, many researchers miss, or dismiss, the statistical significance of their own work.  Such behavior may be human error, or it may be politically motivated. Beware of editorializing.

7. Beware of Pauling-bashers.
If a media article is critical about twice Nobel prize-winning Linus Pauling, you can be confident it has been spin-doctored.

8. Watch for these throw-away slams against supplements:

“You get all the vitamins you need form your daily diet.”
”Vitamins are dangerous if you take too many of them.”
”Excess vitamins are just wasted by your body.”
”More research is needed before supplements can be recommended.”
”There is no scientific support for large vitamin doses.”

9. Watch for pontifical public recommendations at the end of the article

such as:
“Vitamins can do some good things, but can do some bad things as well.”
”You are better off not popping vitamin pills.”
”Just eat a balanced diet.”
”If you take vitamins, take no more than the US RDA.”

10. Use the media backwards.
The more headlines about a particular study, the more politically charged the subject and the less likely that the reporting, or the original study, is positive towards vitamins. Negative news sells newspapers, and magazines, and gets lots of viewers. Positive drug studies do get headlines, of course.  Positive vitamin studies do not. Is this a conspiracy? You mean with shady people all sitting around a shaded table in a darkened back room? Of course not. It is nevertheless an enormous public health problem with enormous consequences. Consider what might be called Saul’s Law of the Media: “Press and television coverage of a vitamin study is inversely proportionate to the study’s clinical usefulness.” In other words, the more media hoopla, the worse the research. Truly valuable research does not scare people; it helps people get well. There are over 3,000 scientific references at Doctor Yourself.com for people who share in this goal.

Copyright 2007 and prior years by Andrew Saul. Andrew Saul is the author of the books FIRE YOUR DOCTOR! How to be Independently Healthy (reader reviews at http://www.doctoryourself.com/review.html ) and DOCTOR YOURSELF: Natural Healing that Works. (reviewed at http://www.doctoryourself.com/saulbooks.html )

Doctor yourself is a very interesting read and I can really recommend it to everybody, especially if you have kids I think you should read this. I am following the advices given and making serious changes to my eating habits myself.
Check out the website, mostly everything is there including thousands of medical studies proving the efficacy of large doses of vitamins which are completely ignored by the established, pharma-run medical establishment.

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6 responses

19 08 2009
susanne430

Great stuff! I am loving these health tips lately!

Hey, you were in my dream early this morning! That was a first to have a blogging friend in my dream. 🙂 You were at a wedding with some American man you met from New York City. You two were not getting married, just sitting a couple rows behind me. For some reason I turned around and we started talking. I don’t know what was more surprising…YOU at a wedding in Durham, NC or ME at one. I must have been there to meet you! 😀

Sorry for going off topic, but I just had to tell you!

24 08 2009
Aafke

Aw Susanne! What an honour to be in one of your dreams! And I love hearing about being in friend’s dreams! And you can’t do any better than dreaming about me ofcourse….. 😈
Actually interesting dream…. there are some points…..
hmmmm…..
:mrgreen:
Duuh, of course you can go offtopic! Especially with such a good reason!

27 08 2009
Solomon2

Aafke, what vitamins and supplements do you take? You don’t work for the vitamin industry, do you?

27 08 2009
Aafke

As I have been learning more and more I have changed my vitamins.
However, the vitamin industrie is by no means as obscenely rich as the pharmaceutical industries and therefore don’t have paid acolites.

I am taking supplements mostly from of Dutch company who makes them accoording to orthomolecular medicine. Which means no superfluous fillings, just the nutrients needed. This way I get a fairly small pill yet it is 1 gram ascorbic acid.

I’ve started a more comprehensive approach, vitamins have to be taken in sufficient amounts, those amounts are way higher as the ”recommended” amounts.
On my way to find out my bowel intolerance level for Ascorbic acid, I am now at 9 grams a day.

27 08 2009
Solomon2

“no superfluous fillings, just the nutrients needed”

In the U.S. the emphasis is on bioavailability. For example, for some minerals the compact oxide form is no longer encouraged, and the bulkier citrate form is preferred instead.

“the vitamin industrie is by no means as obscenely rich as the pharmaceutical industries”

Because the vitamin industry has almost no R&D costs, potential profits as a % of gross revenues can be far higher. That means comparatively more emphasis is placed on product promotion.

(As for bowel intolerance, ascorbic acid is a piker compared to Vitamin D, which can be severely disruptive even at the US RDA level.)

I suspect that vitamin supplementation may be ineffective for those deficient in the required mineral co-factors: Magnesium with B-complex, Selenium with E, etc. Something also missing from numerous studies, I’m afraid.

27 08 2009
Aafke

Not really in orthomolecular medicine it is an important point that some of these supplements actually enhance each others effect. Also for people who have problems with the acidic nature of ascorbic acid they can use a buffer by taking a calcium megnesium supplement at the same time, or take it as Calcium ascorbate.

Basically I’m not nearly finished, but I don’t want to copy myself in comments when I’m writing a post about it as well.
So stay tuned.

I am now getting ready for travel and don’t have much time for blogging.

One should also take into account that Ascorbic acid is synthesised in the liver and directly givin into the bloodstream, it’s us who can’t do it who ahve to take it orally. and the bowel intolerance level merely indicates what your body needs, which is an amount slightly lower. This level varies very much per person, and also by whatever your healthstatus is.
Also, when Ascorbic acid is taken intraveniously the body can take much, much higher levels, and apparently orallly as well.

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