Vitamins a waste of time and money? Ask a nurse

A new study declares that vitamins are a waste of time and money.

Researchers, Marian Neuhouser of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle, who led the study published in Archives of Internal Medicine, said: "To our surprise we found that multivitamins did not lower the risk of the most common cancers and also had no impact on heart disease." Their conclusion? Middle-aged women who swallow multivitamin supplements are just creating expensive urine.

As a nurse with more than 30 years experience, I respectfully wish to disagree. There is a flaw in their results that I have seen repeatedly working in health care. That is, the myopic vision of the medical community when it comes to health and disease. The medical model is one of diagnosing and treating disease. Few are actually trained on what it takes for optimal health. So it is not surprising that when Marian Neuhouser found that there was no impact on cancer and heart disease, it was declared that vitamins are useless.

What was not taken into account was whether vitamins are helpful in maintaining a healthy state. As an avid vitamin taker, I can tell you that I have more energy, fewer colds, and a better mental status when I take my supplements. They may not prevent disease, but I believe that they help maintain health.

The researchers also claim that you can get all the vitamins you need by a balanced diet. Good luck. Unless you grow your own vegetables in a year round garden, it is very hard to get fresh fruits and vitamins that are loaded with vitamins. And that is if you eat perfectly. Most of us are not quite that good. Contrary to a recent claim by Mountain Dew, soda pop is not part of a healthy diet.

Researchers also fail to point out that needs may be different based on where you live. On a recent visit to the Dr., he informed me that almost all residents at this latitude have vitamin D deficiency due to the lack of sunlight in the winter. He suggested that I take 1000 mg. of Vitamin D in addition to calcium. That is just about impossible without supplements.

The report reminds me of a situation I experienced as a young nurse. A group of physicians were making rounds, reviewing the lab work of a patient I was caring for. They were raving over the improvement of his red cell count and white cell increases. I tried to interrupt but was quickly reprimanded for talking. Finally the attending physician turned to me and said, "What do you want?"

"The patient is dead," I replied. They all looked up from their clipboards and saw the patient for the first time. Sometimes, you get so close to what you want to see, you miss another perspective.

Barbara Bartlein is the People Pro. For her FREE e-mail newsletter, please visit: The People Pro

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