Vitamins & Minerals as Therapy

It is not uncommon for practitioners of natural medecine to use nutrient supplements for problems as diverse as depression, diabetes, blood clots and menstrual cramps. Based on published data and their own clinical observations, many nutrition-oriented physicians and practitioners feel that the use of supplements is justified.


Megadoses : In recent years, taking megadoses (amounts that considerably exceed Canada's RNI's) of certain vitamins and minerals has become popular, both to enhance general health and to treat specific illnesses. Nobel laureat Linus Pauling, perhaps best known for his theories on Vitamin C and the common cold, is among the advocates of megavitamin therapy. Pauling contends that the U.S. RDA's,( Recommended Daily Allowance) which are more or less comparable to Canada's RNI's, are completely inadequate for maintaining optimum health.

Many of Pauling's ideas have focused on Vitamin C, and it's use in combatting not just colds, but a number of common diseases. He explains that while most mammals manufacture their own Vitamin C, humans cannot and are therefore dependant upon food sources, which, according to Pauling, do not supply nearly enough to ensure optimal health in not only the absence of disease but also a state of mental and physical well-being.

Most scientists say that excessive amounts of Vitamins A, D and B6 and some minerals such as solenium can produce some unpleasant effects. Pregnant women are advised against taking excessive amounts of vitamins or minerals, particularly Vitamin A, which can cause abnormalities.

Vitamins as Therapy : Natural practitioners and nutritionally oriented physicians are not the only ones using vitamins and minerals to treat specific ailments. Among orthodox physicians, it is standard medical practice to prescribe Zinc for patients undergoing dialysis, for alcoholics suffering from cirrhosis who have vision problems, and for others suffering deficiencies. Other established uses include Iron for the treatment of iron-deficiency anemia, B12 for pernicious anemia, Vitamin A (Accutane) for severe acne, and Niacin to lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels in patients suffering from coronary artery disease. This last usage is said to be safer than any of the widely used prescription drugs.

Latest News : Studies reported in the popular press often give rise to distorted notions about what we can expect from certain supplements. Take Calcium for example; While most physicians would recommend Calcium supplements for their patients at risk for osteoporosis, there is still little conclusive evidence that the mineral alone will have much effect on adults, after the onset of the disease. You should not undertake to treat specific ailments or injuries with vitamins and minerals without expert advice.

Alan R. Gaby,MD, is a physician and proponent of the use of supplements for treating certain conditions. Based on his findings, Dr. Gaby offers the following opinions on possible therapeutic uses for vitamins and minerals.

Thiamin (B1) : Sometimes called the morale vitamin, thiamin plays an important role in maintaining mental health. The need for Thiamin increases during periods of physical and emotional stress, and natural practitioners frequently recommend the vitamin to patients suffering from depression. In addition, thiamin is sometimes used for air and sea sickness, hangovers, shingles, and various types of neuralgia.

RDA : 1.0 Mg

Therapy : Up to 100 Mg for limited periods.

Warning: For best results all other vitamins of B complex should be administered simultaneously. Prolonged ingestion of large doses of any one of the isolated B complex vitamins may result in high urinary losses of other B vitamins and lead to deficiency of these vitamins.

Riboflavin (B2) : Some natural medecine practitioners use riboflavin to treat certain drug-induced psychoses, as well as eye fatigue. Other health practitioners use riboflavin supplements for alcoholics, who often suffer from a deficiency of the vitamin. It is occasionally suggested as a cure for dandruff.

RDA: 1.2 Mg - 1.7 Mg.

Therapy : 25 - 50 Mg.

Niacin (B3) : An established treatment for elevated cholesterol and triglycerides, niacin is also used to treat alcoholics, who are often vitamin deficient. Niacin has been suggested as a treatment for migraine headaches as well.

RDA: 13 - 19 Mg.

Therapy : 100 Mg or more with meals.

Pantothenic acid (B5) : Supplements of pantothenic acid are used to support weak adrenal glands and to treat various symptoms of alergy. Pantothenic acid may help relieve constipation, promote healing of peptic ulcers, and overcome the intestinal paralysis that follows abdominal surgery. Creams containing pantothenic acid have been reported to help a wide range of skin conditions, including eczema.

RDA: est 4 - 7 Mg daily.

Therapy: 50 - 200 Mg.

Vitamin (B6) : Also know as peridoxine, this vitamin is frequently recommended for various pre-menstrual symptoms, including pre-menstrual tension, acne, fluid retention, and migraines. Vitamin B6 may also counteract the depression that birth control pills sometimes produce. Among orthodox physicians, Vitamin B6 is the established treatment for one rare type of anemia, and is also used to prevent the side effects from certain anti-tuberculosis drugs.

RDA : 1.8 - 2.2 Mg.

Therapy : up to 200 Mg daily over several months. Always combine w/ other complex B's.

Vitamin (B12) : Natural medecine practitioners often give Vitamin B12 injections to patients suffering from fatigue, anixiety, depression, poor memory and insomnia. Vitamin B12 injections are the established mode of treatment for pernicious anemia, a rare blood disorder.

RDA : 3.0 Mcg.

Therapy : 50 - 100 Mcg.

Biotin : This vitamin is often prescribed to infants with eczema, and other skin conditions. In addition, patients on dialysis may benefit from Biotin since it seems useful in managing some of the side effects.

RDA: 100 - 200 Mcg.

Therapy : N/A

Folic acid : This B complex vitamin may be useful for treating canker sores and cervical dysplasia, a condition that is sometimes a precursor to cervical cancer. Folic acid may help prevent certain birth defects.

RDA : 400 Mcg.

Therapy : N/A

Vitamin C : An antioxidant, Vitamin C may prove useful in preventing certain cancers, as well as protecting the body against the harmful effects of pollution, smoking, and radiation therapy. Natural practitioners often give Vitamin C supplements to aid in wound healing and increase resistance to stress.

RDA : 60 Mg.

Therapy : 100 - 10,000 Mg daily. In accute poisoning or infections 1000 - 2000 Mg preferably in injection form can be given every hour 1/2 or two hours. Vitamin C is non-toxic even in massive dosses.

Vitamin D : Women going through menopause may benefit from supplements of Vitamin D, which increases absorption of dietary calcium. In combination with Calcium, Vitamin D is said to alleviate hot flashes, night sweats, leg cramps and other symptoms of menopause.

RDA : 5 - 10 Mcg (200-400 IU)

Therapy : up to 4,000 - 5,000 IU daily for adults or half this for children is a safe dose if taken for not longer than one month. Can be toxic if taken in excessive dosses, especially by infants.

Vitamin E : As an antioxidant, Vitamin E may help prevent some cancers and cardiovascular disease. Because the vitamin keeps cholesterol and polyunsaturated fats from breaking down into harmful substances in the body, nutrition-oriented physicians use Vitamin E for a number of cardiovascular conditions.

Among women, Vitamin E has also been reported to alleviate fibrocystic breast disease, prevent miscarriages and to relieve pre-mentrual tension.

RDA : 8 - 10 Mg tocopherol equivalent (12 - 15 IU). Expert nutritionists estimate the actual requirement at 100 - 200 IU daily.

Therapy : From 200 - 2400 IU daily depending on condition. A person with High blood pressure, heart condition, or reumatic heart disease or those requiring dosses of over 600 IU daily should ask doctors to determine the best dossages for them. Known antigonists (which interfere with or destroy vitamin E in the body): inorganic iron, estrogen (synthetic estrogen taken as drugs), chlorine, or chlorinated water.

Vitamin K : In combination with Vitamin C, Vitamin K may relieve nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. It may help those with recurrent nosebleeds or heavy menstrual bleeding, probably due to it's role in blood clotting.
RDA : N/A . Est safe and adequate intake: 70-140 Mcg.

Therapy : N/A

Calcium : Best known for it's role in preventing osteoporosis, Calcium has also been used to treat high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

RDA : Adult 800 - 1200 Mg, children or pregnant women 1000 - 1400 Mg

Therapy : N/A

Iron : This mineral is routinely used to treat iron-deficiency anemia, a condition that most commonly afflicts women of child bearing age. Iron overload may lead to other health problems. Some practitioners recommend iron to treat a condition called restless leg syndrome.

RDA : 10 Mg males, 18 Mg females.

Therapy : N/A

Magnesium : Magnesium therapy may be helpful for a wide rage of conditions, including high blood pressure, heart disease, premenstrual syndrome, migraines, asthma and fatigue. Some practitioners believe that Magnesium may also help alleviate anxiety, depression and hyperactivity.

RDA : 350 - 400 Mg.

Therapy : up to 700 Mg daily.

Selenium : An antioxidant. Natural medecine practitioners use Selenium to treat arthritis and connective tissue disorders, and to prevent cataracts and age-related vision loss. Selenium-sulfide shampoos are commonly used to control dandruff.

RDA : N/A Est safe and adequate intake 0.05 - 0.2 Mg.

Therapy : N/A Toxic in overdoses

Chromium : Natural medecine practitioners as well as some orthodox physicians believe that chromium deficiencies may contribute to diabetes and hypoglycemia and recommend supplements for those at risk.

RDA : unknown. est safe intake 0.05 - 2.0 Mg.

Therapy : N/A

Zinc : This mineral has found wide use among natural practitioners. Zinc has been reported to benefit people suffering from arthritis, acne, boils, skin ulcers,peptic ulcers, infertility, loss of taste and smell and enlarged prostate glands.

RDA : 15 Mg.

Therapy : upto 30 Mg.

** Natural medecine is geared more towards prevention than actual cure, although many successful methods have been discovered for healing.

** Some things to keep in mind. **

  1. Vitamins A & D should be taken intermitantly. one month on, one month off.
  2. Vitamin E should not be taken in doses over 600 IU's and must be labelled D-Alphatocopherol.
  3. The B family of vitamins should be taken as a family and not individually. B-complex should always accompany any individual B vitamin.
  4. Zinc should be taken independantly from the regular vitamin/minerals.

When to seek orthodox medical help

Most people know enough to call an ambulance in cases of severe burns, broken bones, heatstroke and poisoning. Here are some other conditions that should receive immediate medical treatment :

  • Difficulty breathing or severe wheezing or shortness of breath.
  • Severe or persistant vomiting.
  • Significant bleeding from any source, or coughing up blood.
  • Sudden, severe pain in the chest or in the abdomen.
  • Sudden dizziness or change in vision.
  • Slurred speech or loss of speech.
  • persistant numbness in the extremities.
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