Vitamin RDAs Raised but Council Cautions About Overdose

Owen R. Fonorow April 2000

[RDA Increase Press Release] and the [Jay Patrick Suit against the Academy] A Crime Against our Society? [Is Vitamin C Risky] by Bill Sardi.

The logic escapes us.

The trouble with the National Academy of Science press release announcing the increased RDA of vitamin C and vitamin E is its alarming implication. The council implies that the mounting evidence for higher intakes is flimsy. Taking high amounts of these antioxidants might be harmful, they claim as they set suggested maximum dosages.

This reasoning is why we as laymen get lost trying to follow medical thinking. As far as anyone knows, there hasn't been a single death caused by an overdose of either vitamin C or vitamin E. For that matter, in recent memory, no one has died taking too much of any vitamin or amino acid.

On the other hand, according to the American Medical Association, doctors and the pharmaceuticals they prescribe are a leading cause of death and disability in the USA.

The National Academy of Science cites no evidence that taking too much vitamin C causes harm (other than a small minority of people with specific genetic diseases, e.g., hemochromatosis.) According to the mounting literature, the harm comes by taking too little vitamin C. People who follow Dr. Robert Cathcart's advice have taken over 100,000 mg (100 g) of vitamin C daily to relieve their symptoms, without adverse side affects. Vitamin C is about as toxic as water. The body seems to absorb what it needs.

Vitamin C is not the only completely non-toxic substance that, when taken in large amounts, confers great benefit and thus competes directly with pharmaceuticals. MSM and Co-enzyme Q10 (Co-Q10) come to mind. There are multiple reports of breast cancer remissions from high-dose Co-Q10. The first report was during a 1993 clinical study by Dr. Folkes in Denmark. During this study, a woman increased her daily Co-Q10 from 90 mg to 390 mg. In one month, her tumor was no longer palpable and in the following month, a mammogram confirmed the disappearance of her tumor. (See Ralph Moss's Antioxidants Against Cancer and Jean Carper's Miracle Cures.)

When the medical profession acts like a business, it cautions us about taking antioxidants, while pushing dangerous prescription drugs down our throats.

Orthomolecular Alternatives are SAFE

According to various statistics, not a single person in the United States died recently from an overdose of vitamins or amino acids. It is also unlikely that any people died or suffered serious complications from minerals or herb "overdoses".

Adverse Drug Reactions 100,000 to 140,000
Automobile Accidents 39,325
Food Contamination 9,100
Boating Accidents 2,064
Household Cleaners 74
Acute Pesticide Poisoning 12
All Vitamins 0
Amino acids 0
Commercial Herbal Products 0 **

*Sources Data as of 1995 from American Association of Poison Control Centers, National Center for Health Statistics, Journal of the American Medical Association, Centers for Disease Control, March of Dimes, Consumer Product Safety Commission, FDA Reports.
**Before Ephedra scare, Recent problems attributed to synthetic Ephedra and are not proven.


According to AMA, Medical Doctors and the pharmaceuticals they prescribe are a leading cause of death and injury in the United States.

From the American Medical Association:


A recent study, by Dr. Bruce H. Pomeranz, the principal investigator and nueuro science professor at the University of Toronto, was published in the April 15, 1998 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). According to Dr. Pomeranz, as quoted in newspaper accounts, "We estimated that bad reactions to prescription and over-the-counter medicines kill more than 100,000 (76,000 to 137,000) Americans and seriously injure an additional 2.1 million every year. " Such reactions, which do not include prescribing errors or drug abuse, rank between fourth and sixth among U. S. causes of death -- behind heart disease, cancer, lung disease, and possibly strokes, and accidents. [Incidence of Adverse Drug Reactions in Hospitalized Patients, Lazarou, J, Pomeranz, B., Corey, P., JAMA, April 15, 1998, p. 1200]


Why do so many Americans say the use Alternative Medicine? A National AMA study found the surprising answer. People think it works better! (We're not making this up.)

Yet another surprising article appeared in the May 20, 1998 JAMA entitled WHY PATIENTS USE ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE (p. 1548-1553).

From the American Medical Association:


Stanford researchers, on the basis of a National study, estimate that Americans made 425 million visits to alternative health care providers in 1990, a figure that exceeded the number of visits to allopathic primary care physicians during the same period by almost 100 million visits! (Forty seven (47) percent of these physicians also reported using alternative therapies themselves, while 23% incorporated them into their practices.)

What is surprising is the reasons people gave for using Alternative medicine. According to the JAMA article, the two most frequently endorsed benefits (of alternative care) were, "I get relief for my symptoms, the pain or discomfort is less or goes away, I feel better," and "The treatment works better for my particular health problem than standard medicine's." According to the study author, these responses suggest that the most influential or salient factor in people's decision to use alternative health care may be its perceived efficacy.


Drugs kill. Vitamins, amino acids, herbs and minerals are not only safe and cheap, they promote health making drugs unnecessary! In large doses, many vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids and non-toxic orthomolecular substances are more therapeutically effective than their drug counterpart. (Are we missing something? Seems like a no-brainer...)

The Evidence for High Daily Antioxidant Intakes

Antioxidant (RDA) Evidence
Vitamin A (5000 IU) In 1985, Dr. Lucien Israel reported on a group of 100 patients with metastatic breast cancer who were treated by chemotherapy as well as huge doses of 350,000 to 500,000 IU of vitamin A. Dr. Israel reported a "significant increase in the complete response rate" over what is generally obtainable with chemotherapy alone. The response rates, duration of response, and projected survival were all significantly increased. [Ralph Moss, Antioxidants Against Cancer]
Vitamin C (60-90 mg) In 1981, Robert Cathcart III, MD, reports on the "bowel tolerance" phenomena he discovered in 9000 patients (today 20,000 patients). Patients who can only tolerate 4-15 gm of vitamin C by mouth before diarrhea, tolerate orders of magnitudes more vitamin C when they become ill or are put under stress. Cathcart reports that patients tolerate more than 200,000 mg (200 g) of vitamin C per day without diarrhea when they had mononucleosis, viral pneumonia, and bacterial infections . [See Famous paper ]
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) In late 1993, Dr. Folkers arranged for the first clinical trial of Co Q10 at a clinic in Copenhagen, Denmark. Doctors treated 32 patients with advanced, "high risk" breast cancer. In addition to appropriate surgery and conventional treatment, each patient was given 90 mg of CoQ10 per day. They also received other vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids. On this regimen, 6 of the 32 patients showed partial tumor regressions, significant in "advanced" patients. Then in October 1993, a strange thing happened: one of these six women, on her own, increased her dosage from 90 to 390 mg per day. By the next month, her doctors wrote, "the tumor was no longer palpable and in the following month, a mammogram confirmed the disappearance of her tumor. After that, another woman in the group also increased her dose, this time to 300 mg. Her tumor also soon disappeared and a clinical examination revealed no evidence of the prior residual tumor, nor of distant metastases. [Ralph Moss, Antioxidants Against Cancer]
Vitamin E (10 mg - now 15 mg) The Cambridge Heart Antioxidant Study (CHAOS) evaluated the effect of natural vitamin E supplementation (400 or 800 IU/day) or placebo on the risk of myocardial infarction in 2,002 patients with angiorgraphic evidence of coronary atherosclerosis. The risk of nonfatal myocardial infarction was decreased by 77% in the vitamin E supplemented group. The researchers noted that this is the first intervention trial of vitamin E to show a reduction in clinically significant coronary events.

A recent study of coronary bypass patients performed at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minesota, found that patients given 2000 IU of Vitamin E prior to surgery had much lower blood levels of free radicals after surgery than patients who had not been given the supplemental E.

There is growing evidence that Vitamin E may protect against various forms of cancer. A recent study sponsored by the National Cancer Institute suggests that people who take a vitamin E supplement for a minimum of six months cut their risk of developing oral cancers in half. Many studies have demonstrated a direct relationship between a lack of Vitamin E and various forms of cancer, in particular cancers of the breast, lung, colon, cervix and pharynx. Robert Atkins, M.D. (Dr. Atkins' Vita-Nutrient Solution) states the conclusion: "The higher the nutrient in-take, the less likely the cancer. The converse is true, too. As illustrated by an eight-year-long study of more than thirty-six thousand adults, the people with the lowest levels of vitamin E had a greater risk for developing cancers of all kinds."

Vitamin E has recently been shown to promote bone health as well. Dr. Morton Walker reports that not only do Vitamin E make bones grow "faster, longer, denser, and stronger," but that it "also slows the body's usual bone breakdown." (New Findings for Vitamin E, Health Foods Business Magazine)

In the same article cited above Dr. Walker refers to a study in which the anti-inflammatory effects of Vitamin E on 42 rheumatoid arthritis patients who ingested 1200 i.u. /day for 12 weeks was observed. Dr. Atkins reports another study in which "Eighty-one percent of the participants...felt a dramatic improvement in joint discomfort after taking 2,500 i.u. per day."

An article just published in the JAMA [1] reports that vitamin E supplements can improve the immune response of healthy elderly subjects. The paper is based on a randomised controlled trial involving 88 free-living, healthy subjects at least 65 years of age. Half the group was given vitamin E supplements of either 60, 200, or 800 mg/d for 235 days (the recommended dietary intake is 15mg). The outcome was based on various measures of immune function. The patients given supplementation experienced a marked improvement in measures of immune function, with increases ranging from 40-600%. These were much greater than those seen in placebo subjects. There was some degree of dose effect when serum vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) concentration was measured. There were no adverse effects observed from vitamin E supplementation.

This study follows hot on the heels of one published in the New England Journal of Medicine which suggested that vitamin E supplementation delays progression of Alzheimer's disease. That study was a three way comparison of vitamin E in high doses (1,000 IU/day) vs the MAO inhibitor seligiline vs placebo.

Folic Acid (.4 mg (400 mcg)) 40-60 mg (40000-60000 mcg) has a powerful, estrogenlike effect for women who cannot tolerate the side effects of estrogen replacement, according to Drs. Robert C Atkins and Carlton Fredricks. Mega-folic therapy, along with the mineral boron, can delay menopause or relieve its symptoms, allowing women to halt estrogen replacement therapy entirely, or reduce their prescription dosages. It can revive depressed libido, restore menstrual regularity, and adjust hormonal imbalances. In adolescent girls it can coax delayed puberty back on track. It also helps to slow the bone loss that leads to osteoporosis.
Vitamin B12 (.003 mg (3 mcg)) 3000 mcg (3 mg) or 1000 times the RDA can overcome insomnia, according to one study, enabling people with sleep problems to drift off more easily and to remain asleep for a longer period. The nutrient contributes to the manufacture of melatonin. The age-related decline in B12 absorption probably accounts for the fall in melatonin secretion that occurs as we grow older.
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