/ Health

Had dodgy advice from a nutritional therapist? We have!

Have you ever visited a nutritional therapist? In this month’s Which? magazine we investigated the profession and found some worrying practices, such as therapists advising against going to your GP.

One therapist advised our researcher, who was posing as a cancer sufferer, against having conventional treatment (a lumpectomy and radiotherapy), saying that she should try for three to six months to rid herself of the cancer through diet (by cutting out sugar).

Nutritional therapy can be big business; therapists charge up to £80 for a consultation and often prescribe expensive supplements on top. So we wanted to investigate whether it was worth the money.

How our investigation worked

We asked five undercover researchers to each visit three therapists. Each researcher was provided with a scenario.

One researcher (in her early 30s) had been trying to conceive unsuccessfully for over a year. Two (in their 50s) had been suffering from severe tiredness for the past three months. And two women (in their 40s) had recently been diagnosed with DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma in Situ), the most common type of non-invasive breast cancer.

A panel of experts (a dietitian, a GP and a Professor of Pharmacology) then assessed recordings of the visits and any other information the therapists provided to the researchers, including prescriptions for supplements.

Are nutritional therapists worth the money?

Our expert panel concluded that visiting a nutritional therapist wasn’t worth the money – and in some cases could have actually endangered the health of the researcher. Six of the fifteen consultations were rated as ‘dangerous fails’.

This could have been down to a number of reasons:

  • The advice given by the therapist could have potentially harmed the researcher.
  • Therapists were diagnosing conditions without relevant testing (even though their Code of Practice says they shouldn’t diagnose).
  • Researchers were advised not to visit their GPs about the problem, recommending unproven testing such as hair mineral analysis, and the case above, advising against cancer treatment.

Of the remaining visits, eight were rated as ‘fails’ and only one was graded as a ‘borderline pass’. Our experts were disappointed by the advice given by therapists and concerned at their poor knowledge of the body and how it works.

The experts were also worried by some therapists using non-evidence-based testing to diagnose symptoms. These tests included iridology (studying the patterns, colour and other characteristics of the iris), hair mineral analysis and a researcher being given several liquids to hold in his mouth before being told he had a chromium deficiency.

Are the recommendations right?

Twelve of the therapists prescribed supplements to the researchers, costing up to £70 a month. Researchers were told not to buy them from Boots or other high street chemists as they weren’t ‘pure enough’ and you were effectively ‘flushing your money down the loo’. Instead, they were asked to buy them from the retailers recommended by the therapist.

Of course, there is benefit in following healthy dietary advice, but most of what was provided by the nutritional therapists is freely available on websites such as the NHS site.

Plus, most of the therapists in our investigation recommended quite restrictive diets that excluded several foods (predominantly dairy and wheat) and taking expensive supplements.

If you do have a medical condition that you are concerned about, your first port of call should be your GP. If necessary they can then refer you to a dietitian. We have contacted the British Association of Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT) with our findings and concerns.

People who have visited nutritional therapists emailed us to say that they found the diets recommended to them difficult to maintain over a long time and eventually gave up.

Have you visited a nutritional therapist? What was your experience like – do any of these findings ring true or did you have a more positive experience?

Comments
BANT & NTC says:
28 February 2012

WORKING PARTY TO INVESTIGATE THE WHICH? ALLEGATIONS
BANT and the NTC have taken the recent allegations reported in the media very seriously. We are therefore instituting an expert panel to provide a frank appraisal of the details of those allegations that have been raised and make recommendations. The posts for the working party have yet to be confirmed but a number of experienced nutritional therapy practitioners and academics have been approached. The first meeting will take place shortly and we will report on their findings and recommendations in due course.

http://www.bant.org.uk/bant/pdf/WHICH/PRESS_RELEASE_BANT_NTC_WORKING_PARTY_TO_INVESTIGATE_WHICH_ALLEGATIONS_20120227.pdf

In the meantime, it would be useful if BANT could publish its code of ethics for the benefit of the public.

Selina Import says:
28 February 2012

If would make such a difference if we used our time looking to understand and find common ground. We all, I believe. want to enable people (otherwise known as patients and clients) to find ways to be as well as posible.

We need also to ask the question: “Why do NTs exist? Why are they in demand? Just what is their speciality?

I agree, Selina, though I think that NTs will have to take the initiative for things to move forward.

To help the public understand the role of NTs some general information including the roles of various organisations would be useful.

Hello wavechange and others who may be interested.

This is the result of a very recent RCT in Infant heart failure and vitamin D supplementation.

February 28, 2012 — John Cannell, MD of the Vitamin D Council.

Heart failure is a condition where the body can’t pump enough blood to meet the needs of its body. When we think of heart failure, we think of older persons whose heart has worn out, not 4-month-old infants. However, chronic congestive heart failure is a real and existing problem for infants all over the world. That is why we should laud Professor Soad Shedeed in Egypt, who conducted the first randomized controlled trial (the highest standard of proof in medical science) using vitamin D in infants with heart failure. These infants usually either die or get a heart transplant.

Shedeed SA. Vitamin D Supplementation in Infants With Chronic Congestive Heart Failure. Pediatr Cardiol. 2012 Feb 18. [Epub ahead of print]
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22349668

In about 60% of his 80 cases, the infants simply had heart muscles that did not work for an unknown reason, called idiopathic cardiomyopathy. The other 40% were born with holes in their hearts, causing heart failure and were hopefully waiting for surgery. All 80 infants had severe heart failure with ejection fractions in the 30th percentile (how much blood you can empty out of the heart with each beat). Normal fraction percentage is about 55-60%.

After randomly assigning the children to one of two groups, he gave 40 of the 80 infants 1,000 IU/day of vitamin D and the other 40 infants placebo, being careful to keep using standard heart failure treatment for all the infants. He also measured three kinds of inflammatory molecules, before and after the treatment in both groups of kids. His findings were nothing short of miraculous.

In the vitamin D group, the ejection fractions became normal, effectively treating (in conjunction with standard treatment) heart failure in some of the infants by definition. These findings were statistically significant compared to the placebo group. The average ejection fraction went from 36% to 52 % after only three months on vitamin D, clinically and statistically significant compared to placebo plus standard treatment, which increased fraction from 37% to 43%.

In the vitamin D infants, vitamin D levels went from 13 ng/ml to 33 ng/ml, and the authors commented that they probably should have given more than 1,000 IU/day. In addition, the inflammatory molecules did what you’d expect; the vitamin D quelled the inflammation.

So we have a relatively large randomized controlled trial (80 infants is a lot for an infantile heart failure study), published in an excellent journal with serious results. I can’t overstate the importance of this study. This is the kind of study that needs to influence clinical practice. This is the kind of study that doctors all over the world ought to be aware of. This is the kind of study that the press needs to know about.

I do not want to get involved in more discussion unless it is related to the topic.

I do not believe that anyone doubts that some need additional vitamin D and I have said on more than one occasion that I would support a review of current recommendations. The doctors and scientists are capable of finding this and other papers that are relevant to the subject, so let’s let them get on with it.

Selina Import says:
29 February 2012

Thank you Chris, I do agree with you. I do think this study on D supplementation is relevant to our topic.

Well you and chrisb discuss it, but please don’t mention my username and please remember that vitamin D can have side effects and has long been regarded as toxic when taken in excess. 🙂

Stuart says:
29 February 2012

I note the conclusion of the paper is….”Vitamin D supplementation has great benefits as an anti-inflammatory agent in infants with CHF.”

For emphasis again…..” in infants with CHF” i.e the benefits the paper identifies are for the select group studied.

This paper says nothing about using Vit D, or its safety in high doe for the wider population. But I’m sure you know better.

Thank you Selina,
I respect wavechange not wanting to continue with this type of discussion unless on topic, but NT is entirely to do with Nutrition, and therefore the study I quoted was highly relevant, and esp’ in the light that nutritional supplements have been so generally denigrated throughout.

We have said previously, and on many an occasion, that Vitamin D3 for example is not a drug, and cannot be compared with such. Side-effects of D3 and most nutrients pale into insignificance in comparison; these include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and accompanying weight loss. Sufferers may also become dehydrated and experience increased thirst and severe headaches. Ideal blood serum vitamin D levels should be a minimum of 50 ng/mL (125 nmol/L), with optimal levels falling between 50-80 ng/mL (125-200 nmol/L). These values apply to both children and adults, and impossible to achieve through diet alone, and esp’ when direct sunlight is sparse for much of the year, and of course depending on where you live.

The study proves once and for all, that the gold-standard RCT has been used successfully in determining the vital role that Vitamin D can play, bearing in mind that the studies authors concluded that they should have used a higher dose.!!!

I think Selina that we shall see an ever-increasing role for nutrition in the future, and how individual/combinations of nutrients can be targeted at particular disease states, with much much more efficacy and safety than the current Pharmaceutical paradigm has been able to achieve.

This of course does not mean that Pharmaceuticals have no role to play, as of course they do, and a very important role at that, and where after a serious automobile accident, I wouldn’t want to see a Herbalist for example !!!!!
As you have said before Selina, and very recently, that there should be ways in which we can all work together, and combine the expertise of both sides of the health-equation, for the benefit of everyone.

Stuart says:
29 February 2012

“………and esp’ in the light that nutritional supplements have been so generally denigrated throughout.”

No they haven’t. It has been widely acknowledged that in certain circumstances supplements are important. It has also been repeatedly pointed out the supplements can be harmful, and that the benefits to the general population of taking supplements isnt conclusive.

“We have said previously, and on many an occasion, that Vitamin D3 for example is not a drug, and cannot be compared with such.”

No such comparison has been suggested. It doesnt matter whether the treatment is a drug, supplement, or anything else, the risks and benefits to health need to be analysed.

“Side-effects of D3 and most nutrients pale into insignificance in comparison”

A false dichotomy. The comparision of D3 as a general supplement is made with the base case of not taking D3 – hence why it is a ‘supplement’. If D3 carries risks and side effects these should be compared with the benefits.

“The study proves once and for all, that the gold-standard RCT has been used successfully in determining the vital role that Vitamin D can play”

….in infants with CHF, not for the general population.

“…how individual/combinations of nutrients can be targeted at particular disease states, with much much more efficacy and safety than the current Pharmaceutical paradigm has been able to achieve”

This is meaningless.

“……..and combine the expertise of both sides of the health-equation”

I wasn’t aware there were sides? Just treatments which work, and those which don’t.

Stuart,
I believe I said that you are clutching at straws if not splitting hairs.

I said…………….
“………and esp’ in the light that nutritional supplements have been so generally denigrated throughout.”

You said………………….
“No they haven’t. It has been widely acknowledged that in certain circumstances supplements are important. It has also been repeatedly pointed out the supplements can be harmful, and that the benefits to the general population of taking supplements isn’t conclusive”.

Well at least there is now an admission that supplements are important. A concession indeed. Some supplements can be harmful in excess such as Vitamin A and Iron and the benefits to general population has been supported by Harvard no less and many other authorities. Please don’t give me the “appeal to authority nonsense” as it would be appreciated.

I said…………..
“We have said previously, and on many an occasion, that Vitamin D3 for example is not a drug, and cannot be compared with such.”

You replied…………..
“No such comparison has been suggested. It doesn’t matter whether the treatment is a drug, supplement, or anything else, the risks and benefits to health need to be analyzed”.

It has, because I made that comparison because some supplements or individual nutrients can achieve the same or much better health-benefits than pharmaceuticals, and where the study I quoted has just proven that point.

I said…………..
“Side-effects of D3 and most nutrients pale into insignificance in comparison”

You replied………………….
“A false dichotomy. The comparision of D3 as a general supplement is made with the base case of not taking D3 – hence why it is a ‘supplement’. If D3 carries risks and side effects these should be compared with the benefits”.

Do some research Stuart, and you will find that the side-effects of nutrients are far far less than those of pharmaceuticals, hence the medical need to weigh the benefits of prescription drugs with the risks, coupled with dosage and duration of taking them.

I said…………….
“The study proves once and for all, that the gold-standard RCT has been used successfully in determining the vital role that Vitamin D can play”

You replied…………………
“….in infants with CHF, not for the general population”.

The study proved beyond doubt that supplemental Vitamin D3 had immense therapeutic value over the alternative of death or a heart-transplant.
Supplemental Vitamin D3 for example is recommended as a prophylactic by many experts in the absence of sunlight (most of the year for most of us within the UK). That means the general population I think !!

I said…………….
“…how individual/combinations of nutrients can be targeted at particular disease states, with much much more efficacy and safety than the current Pharmaceutical paradigm has been able to achieve”

You replied………………
“This is meaningless”.

No it isn’t. Read it again then.

I said…………………..
“……..and combine the expertise of both sides of the health-equation”

You replied……………….
“I wasn’t aware there were sides?

You mean Alternatives v Orthodoxy? Where have you been since the report of NT’s was made?

You also said…………..
“Just treatments which work, and those which don’t”.

My exact point Stuart.

Thank you.

Stuart says:
29 February 2012

“Well at least there is now an admission that supplements are important. A concession indeed. ”

The concession was always there, you chose to ignore it because we highlighted there were also risks.

“Some supplements can be harmful in excess such as Vitamin A and Iron and the benefits to general population has been supported by Harvard no less and many other authorities. Please don’t give me the “appeal to authority nonsense” as it would be appreciated.”

A concession indeed. And the evidence that the risks outweight the benefits to the GENERAL population for Vit A and Iron?

“It has, because I made that comparison because some supplements or individual nutrients can achieve the same or much better health-benefits than pharmaceuticals, and where the study I quoted has just proven that point.”

Your comparing apples with oranges and the study is specifically about a small sub-group of the population (infants with a specific condition) and not the GENERAL population.

Again, I will state clearly – the benefits to the GENERAL population of taking supplements must be shown against the GENERAL population not taking them. They are called ‘supplements’ as they are supplemental to those which we already derive from food. I think you avoid this comparison because you realise the benefits of supplements are far from clear, and as you conceed there are risks with high dosage.

“The study proved beyond doubt that supplemental Vitamin D3 had immense therapeutic value over the alternative of death or a heart-transplant.”

Yes…….in infants with CHF, not for the general population. Do you dispute that fact? Also quite amusing that you cite the RCT as the gold standard when it supports your point, yet have spent pages trying to justify why much weaker standards of evidence are better.

“Supplemental Vitamin D3 for example is recommended as a prophylactic by many experts in the absence of sunlight (most of the year for most of us within the UK). That means the general population I think !!”

Erm. No it doesn’t. Unless you are suggesting the general population all live at extreme northern or southern latitudes. Which they don’t.

“No it isn’t. Read it again then.”

Otherwise known as a controlled trial. The point being?

“You mean Alternatives v Orthodoxy? Where have you been since the report of NT’s was made?”

Again, there are simply treatments which work and those which don’t. This isnt about anti-alt as you assume.

BANT and the NTC are going to investigate the Which? allegations. Perhaps CNHC might get involved too, but we will have to wait to find out.

I do not believe that we needed the Which? report to demonstrate that there are some problems with some practitioners of nutritional therapy. The time and effort would – I believe – be better spent on making some improvements to help NTs gain more respect. A relatively easy task (in my humble opinion!) would be to define which therapies are appropriate for NTs to offer and which (e.g. iridology) should not be offered.

Wavechange,
just to let you know that your post that begins with………………

“BANT and the NTC are going to investigate the Which? allegations. Perhaps CNHC might get involved too, but we will have to wait to find out”.

I agree with you, on the assumption that the report was factually accurate. We’ll have to wait and see what their findings are, after their own (dare I say impartial) panel has adjudicated on the transcripts.

Stuart said…………..
“The concession was always there, you chose to ignore it because we highlighted there were also risks”.

Risks are minimal compared to Pharmaceuticals

You also said……………
“A concession indeed. And the evidence that the risks outweigh the benefits to the GENERAL population for Vit A and Iron”?

Only if taken in excess which no one is advocating.

You said………………
“Your comparing apples with oranges and the study is specifically about a small sub-group of the population (infants with a specific condition) and not the GENERAL population”.

Not really Stuart, as Nutrients are perceived by many, and esp’ the pharmaceutical companies as effective competition to their wares, so this is actually comparing apples with apples.

You again said………………..
“Again, I will state clearly – the benefits to the GENERAL population of taking supplements must be shown against the GENERAL population not taking them. They are called ‘supplements’ as they are supplemental to those which we already derive from food. I think you avoid this comparison because you realize the benefits of supplements are far from clear, and as you concede there are risks with high dosage”.

The benefits to the general populous of taking a general all round Vitamin/Mineral supplement are advocated by Harvard amongst others, and although these nutrients are derived from food, this is seen by many soil specialists as inadequate nourishment because of soil-depletion (mentioned before) and other factors, such as the Global transport of foodstuffs which deplete the nutrient value of foods generally. Supplementation is a matter of personal choice, so if you choose not to do so then that is your prerogative.
I have said previously that the risks with taking some, and only some nutrients, can occur at too high a dosage, but it is deficiencies I am referring to and the amounts needed for “optimal health” as opposed to the minimal RDI, which in many cases is barely adequate for that purpose.
It is now realized by many experts that the RDI for Vitamin D3 has been woefully inadequate in the prevention of disease or its treatment at the higher doses required. This was illustrated in the study I posted on.

“The study proved beyond doubt that supplemental Vitamin D3 had immense therapeutic value over the alternative of death or a heart-transplant.”

You also said……………..
“Yes…….in infants with CHF, not for the general population. Do you dispute that fact? Also quite amusing that you cite the RCT as the gold standard when it supports your point, yet have spent pages trying to justify why much weaker standards of evidence are better”.

Yes I do dispute that because of the discovery of how Vitamin D3 plays a major role in the prevention of disease such as cancers, MS and other chronic diseases at more than the RDI’s, and why many health professionals now advocate supplementation of the same for this purpose.
Research isn’t difficult Stuart.

And………….
“Again, there are simply treatments which work and those which don’t. This isnt about anti-alt as you assume”.

I agree with your first sentence, but to say that the discussions haven’t been about anti-alternative is not the general impression I have noticed from Maria, yourself, Alan, wavechange and David. Did any of you have anything positive to say about alternatives? because if you did, I must have missed it.

Stuart commented………..
“This paper says nothing about using Vit D, or its safety in high doe for the wider population. But I’m sure you know better”.

I didn’t say that I know better, but these also refer to what I do mean by higher doses of Vitamin D3 than cannot be obtained from the diet and/or lack of sunlight exposure………………………………
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090630143523.htm
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18844843
http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/vitamin-d/
http://www.trackyourplaque.com/blog/2010/12/vitamin-d-deficiency-vs-optimum-level.html
http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/about-vitamin-d/how-to-get-your-vitamin-d/vitamin-d-supplementation/
http://www.sunarc.org/Embry-_JOM_Vit_D-1.pdf
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110222140546.htm

and so on and so on and so on………………

I’ve been reading the new book, The Patient Paradox, by Margaret McCartney who was a member of the expert panel. I recommend it to anyone who has an interest in medicine.

At the risk of oversimplification. the message is as follows. We are all interested in preventing disease, rather than trying to cure it once it’s happened. As a result people who are well are encouraged to get screened regularly. In addition to NHS screening programmes, a commercial industry has grown up to do “wellness” checks. This sounds like a good thing until you realise that most of the screening methods are not very accurate so that for each person who has a serious condition that is caught early (the good result), many more people are diagnosed inaccurately (false positives). The latter group get treatment, including surgery, that may be risky and confers no benefits.

In other words. our ability to put preventive medicine into practice is limited by very imperfect knowledge about how to prevent disease. The topic is far wider than NTs, but NTs should perhaps be more conscious that it does not help to exaggerate their ability to prevent and cure disease.

Hello David,
Margaret McCartney’s book sounds to be very interesting.
An ounce of prevention as it were………………but I always thought screening in itself only reveals that health problems could be in the making, rather than in their actual prevention and development. I do agree with your second paragraph.
I am not personally in favor of mammograms for example……………
http://hsionline.com/2007/02/22/are-mammograms-really-safe-and-effective/
http://www.credencegroup.co.uk/Eclub/Eclubsearchable2/220302/dangersofmammograms.htm

Histology and other tools of diagnosis are of course invaluable, but preventive medicine by definition actually involves prevention, and where lifestyle choices and diet can play a huge role and in turn save our NHS billions of £££.
The AICR and the World Cancer Research Fund have taken a leading role in that respect…………….
http://www.aicr.org/research/research_science_expert_report.html
http://www.dietandcancerreport.org/

Selina Import says:
1 March 2012

David. It would be interesting to read Margaret McCartney’s book to understand where she is coming from. What is she expert in?

In the case of diabetes, screening might be worthwhile. A simple blood test, possibly followed up by a glucose tolerance test, could identify those with pre-diabetes. Encouraging them to change their diet and lifestyle could prevent diabetes and if the diagnosis is wrong then the recommendations are still likely to be beneficial. In addition, identification of those with diabetes will allow them to seek treatment.

Even if we don’t screen everyone it would – I believe – worth checking older people who are overweight or obese, or there are other risk factors.

For all of the skeptics out there who believe we can get all our nutrients from food, or a healthy balanced diet, I came across this article today.
Well worth reading and esp’ the scientific studies that corroborate this view at the end of the article.
Entitled………………………
Malnourished America: Can a Healthy Diet Save Us?
http://www.vrp.com/multinutrients/malnourished-america-can-a-healthy-diet-save-us?utm_content=article3467&utm_source=nl20120301&utm_campaign=nl&utm_term=cid-671175&utm_medium=email&rmid=VRP_NL_20120301&rrid=387050258&cmpid=email-nl-nl20120301&rcustid=671175

Maria says:
1 March 2012

Chrisb wrote:

“For all of the skeptics out there who believe we can get all our nutrients from food, or a healthy balanced diet, I came across this article today. Well worth reading and esp’ the scientific studies that corroborate this view at the end of the article.”

And the best thing about that article is that every time it mentions something we ought to be doing or a supplement the writer thinks we should be taking, it helpfully provides a link to the product it is selling in its very own on-line store so we can add it to our shopping basket. Anyone taking that article seriously could have spent a couple of hundred dollars by the time they got to the end.

Whereas if they’d watched the BBC Food Hospital programme featuring nutritional physician Alan Stewart, who is NOT SELLING ANYTHING, they would have heard him say this:

“A lot of people aren’t eating that well and they’d be better off to not waste money on supplements but to eat a healthier diet….The use of supplements currently in the UK only lowers the risk of deficiency by about 1 per cent according to national diet and nutritition survey data.”

I’m getting a sense of deja vu. I recall that the very first post I challenged you on was one that linked to a similar site i.e. a SALES site. I have to wonder, Chris, why you are promoting the use of supplements so aggressively and why you think an article whose very purpose is to get the ‘worried well’ to part with their cash, deserves an iota of credibility?

Selina Import says:
1 March 2012

Thank you Chris I found that article interesting and plenty of references to look up if one has the mind to.These days there is so much advertising whatever information about anything that one is looking for that I almost don’t see most of it as was the case with this article.

PollyB says:
3 March 2012

But Chris – this article doesn’t say that you CAN’T get your nutrients from a healthy diet. What it says is that most Americans DON’T get their recommended amounts from their diet – mainly because they are not eating a healthy diet (or they have a health problem, or they are taking medication or they are restricting their diet to lose weight).
What this article is basically saying is – if you are eating an unhealthy American-style diet – you are probably not getting all your recommended nutrients (this is hardly a shock!) and therefore you may be advised to take a multivitamin (but better still – eat a better diet full of nutrients!)

Maria,
yes a fair point or two, and I do agree with you up to a point, but then VRP (Vitamin Research Products) have to advertise their wares somehow, and the website is how they go about this. I suppose though if you compare this with the mass TV advertising that Pharmaceutical Companies do in the USA, this isn’t much by the way of advertising.
Also to be fair they only display two of their products, but admittedly do advertise more within the article that supports the science at the end, so debatable if this is shameless advertising or an offer of genuine need, rather than just financial greed. They do have to sell products though just like any other business to survive and where the products are directly associated with the science.

Alan Stewart probably has another primary source of income, and therefore doesn’t need to sell anything. I would like to examine his data/statistics on supplements if you could locate the same, as not everyone, including the experts would be of the same opinion.

Re’ sales sites, I think I have adequately explained that above, but I am not, or ever have, promoted supplements per-se as a means of financial reward, but more in the efficacy of their use, and certainly not (as you describe it) aggressively.!!
Your comment that the very purpose of an article I have posted is to get the “worried well” which doesn’t seem that many of us, judging by NHS statistics, to part with their cash is rather a sweeping generalization and entirely dependent on your point of view.
Yours just happens to disagree with mine and many others like me of a similar ilk.
The credibility of the article is endorsed by the science, unless you care to refute that.

Maria says:
1 March 2012

Yes of course, if they are to maintain a healthy profit margin they do have to advertise their wares. Chris, you are a marketer’s dream!

You wrote,

“The credibility of the article is endorsed by the science, unless you care to refute that.”

OK, let’s take the opening paragraph – the one written to hook people like you in. It says,

“Despite having access to a wide variety of foods, the sad fact is that Americans are malnourished. Whether or not you’re eating a “healthy” diet, the chances are good that you’re deficient in a number of nutrients*. In fact, there are so many factors that interfere with nutrient absorption, it’s almost inevitable that you’re not getting all the nourishment you need from meals.”

Just in case you missed the point of the first paragraph, it is repeated three more times in the article:

the chances are good you’re not getting enough of the nutrients you need
the chances are good you’re not getting enough of the nutrients you need.
the chances are good you’re either not obtaining healthy amounts of nutrients from the diet alone

I don’t believe that most Americans are malnourished and, notably, he doesn’t provide a reference for the claim that any are (nor any statistical analysis of what “the chances are”). I don’t doubt that some Americans are malnourished but his first sentence is worded to give the impression that it is a huge problem. This is the point where alarm bells start ringing for critical thinkers, while the gullible go on to read and buy stuff they don’t need.

In the body of the article he lists a ways that people might not be getting all the nutrients they could be getting and, inevitably, we soon come to the “health imbalances are associated with vitamin deficiencies”, which is a shameless bit of scaremongering as is the next bit, “consequences of deficiencies”.

Chris and Selina, it matters not a jot whether the references provided after the first paragraph are good or not because the claim upon which the whole article is premised – that most people are aren’t getting the nutrients they need – is not substantiated ergo the credibility of the article is not endorsed by science.

The article is one of the worst examples of blatantly misleading advertising I have ever read and if it was a UK website it would be the subject of complaints to the ASA and Trading Standards.

Maria says:
1 March 2012

Oh by the way, I’d love to know how you think NHS statistics tell us anything about how many of us are the ‘worried well’.

Maria, you said,
“Oh by the way, I’d love to know how you think NHS statistics tell us anything about how many of us are the ‘worried well’”.

Depends what you mean by “worried well” I suppose.

Health is not just about the absence of disease, as many of us are led to believe, and then live in a possible state of uncertainty wondering whether we are going to be diagnosed with the worst. I have seen too many people in my lifetime who on the surface were seemingly in “the best of health”, and then were suddenly and inexplicably stricken down with a serious life-threatening disease: they all died in the prime of their lives, through what they thought was no fault of their own.

Lifestyle choices including exercise, judicious sunlight exposure, fresh air, pure water, nutrition and repose, with freedom from undue stress, can all play a major major part in the prevention of disease, and enable us to live life to the fullest, even into old age. Jack La Lanne exemplified this philosophy of living and an example to us all.

NHS statistics though prove otherwise, with the millions who strain its services everyday of every week of every year: unsustainable healthcare, or what some would describe as “disease-care”.

The use of supplements is debatable I grant you, but that is the prerogative of each and everyone of us to arrive at their own conclusions, as to their necessity or otherwise.
Our first line of defense against disease is a strong immune system, and where optimizing your nutritional status plays a major part to that end, but I have made my own choice and you have made yours, and that is really that.
The evidence is there for anyone who cares to investigate this for themselves, but if you choose to ignore it, then that is your absolute democratic right to do so.

Take care.

Stuart says:
2 March 2012

“The use of supplements is debatable I grant you”

After pages of arguing otherwise this is an amazing statement!

Maria said…………..
“Yes of course, if they are to maintain a healthy profit margin they do have to advertise their wares. Chris, you are a marketer’s dream!”

I know…………..and its all unpaid work; the sense of altruism astounds even me.!!
Not that I do any conscious advertising mind.

Oh dear, I’m “hooked” or they’ve “hooked me in”……………at least I now know what a fish feels like.

No doubt you would prefer an RCT to determine whether the SAD (Standard American Diet) leads to nutritional deficiencies, so if you’d like to organise one that would be great, but in the meantime we have these to peruse at our leisure……………………
http://ncp.sagepub.com/content/25/6/603.full
http://www.plim.org/SAD.htm

…………and I find it so so odd, that somehow there is a perceived notion, that there is little if any correlation between what we place in our mouths, and the effect it has on our health. Do we really need science to tell us that if we live off hamburgers and hot dogs and the all the other processed garbage in the SAD, we are somehow not deficient in any nutrients at all?

The rest of your post after these comments, was largely irrelevant and not worthy of any comment.

Maria says:
2 March 2012

I missed this post last night.

Chrisb wrote:

“somehow there is a perceived notion, that there is little if any correlation between what we place in our mouths, and the effect it has on our health. Do we really need science to tell us that if we live off hamburgers and hot dogs and the all the other processed garbage in the SAD, we are somehow not deficient in any nutrients at all?”

Nonsense. Nobody in this conversation has denied a correlation between bad diet and poor health or suggested that living on junk food is OK. This is yet another straw man from you and I’m weary of pointing them out.

Let me make my position clear. I am persuaded by the argument of Alan Stewart, nutritional physician, that IF we are already eating a healthy diet, supplements are unnecessary. That is all. By posting articles from people with vested interests in selling supplements packed with links about vitamin deficiencies, you are not undermining this view, you are not addressing it all.

Stuart wrote:

“However, you seem happy to draw much wider conclusions about how it supports the use of supplements as a prophylactic against all diseases.”

Exactly!

Chrisb wrote:

“The rest of your post after these comments, was largely irrelevant and not worthy of any comment.”

The rest of my post pointed out that how the premise, while unsupported was hammered home and that the resorted to the usual highly unethical scaremongering tactics typical of scamsters trying to rip off the gullible. There’s not much you or anyone else can say about that.

Stuart says:
2 March 2012

“…………and I find it so so odd, that somehow there is a perceived notion, that there is little if any correlation between what we place in our mouths, and the effect it has on our health. ”

I’m not clear that anyone hodl this notion. Diet along with of course lifestyle issues (exercise, alcohol, smoking etc) obviously play a huge role in our health.

“Do we really need science to tell us that if we live off hamburgers and hot dogs and the all the other processed garbage in the SAD, we are somehow not deficient in any nutrients at all?”

Then the obvious answer is to get people off a SAD type diet and onto a more balanced one, isn’t it?

Whilst of course acknowledging that these food groups as part of a more balanced diet are unlikely to cause us harm.

Maria says:
1 March 2012

I love how you use a simple question as the launchpad to deliver yet another sermon.

If I understand you correctly, you are using the fact that there are “millions who strain [NHS] services everyday of every week of every year” as evidence that there aren’t many people who are well. As you put it, “the “worried well” which doesn’t seem that many of us, judging by NHS statistics,”.

Well, that’s just ridiculous.

By ‘worried well’, I mean people who are well but who are worried that they might not stay well unless they do something more than what they are doing already. ‘Self-obsessed’ would be another way of describing many of them.

Time and time again I see promotion of the idea that we have to do something more than just eat, keep reasonably fit and not smoke or drink heavily. To keep really, really well, it seems we have to regularly fork out extra money for some quack therapy, wonder foodstuff or supplement. Too often, the normal ups and downs of everyday life: tiredness, aches and pains, the odd tension headache, occasional insomnia or bowel problems, etc, are viewed as problems we need to not only treat as if they were potentially life-threatening medical conditions but that we should spend money on trying to prevent them happening at all.

You said,

“The evidence is there for anyone who cares to investigate this for themselves, but if you choose to ignore it, then that is your absolute democratic right to do so.”

Having seen your idea of what constitutes ‘evidence’, I’ll take your suggestion with a large grain of salt. But thanks anyway.

Maria, you said…………
“Having seen your idea of what constitutes ‘evidence’, I’ll take your suggestion with a large grain of salt. But thanks anyway”.

How about the RCT on Vitamin D3 for starters? and all those lovely mainstream journals that support my viewpoints?
Unfortunately, someones in denial……………………and it isn’t me.

Stuart says:
2 March 2012

There are no doubt some references you have provided that are good studies and good evidence.

The problem is not so much the source of your informaton Chris, its that you use these papers to come to much broader conclusions than the evidence supports.

An example – Shedeed SA. Vitamin D Supplementation in Infants With Chronic Congestive Heart Failure. Pediatr Cardiol. 2012 Feb 18 – shows an interesting use of Vitamin D in a very specific group.

However, you seem happy to draw much wider conclusions about how it supports the use of supplements as a prophylactic against all diseases.

Also, are you now saying that RCTs are the gold standard of evidence, or is this a temporary change of stance to fit the issue in hand?

Selina Import says:
2 March 2012

Chris,

I do appreciate all your links. If I hadn’t felt I work things out for myself, I think I would have been moved to consult an NT

There are many of us who have become interested in being responsible for our own health when mainstream wasn’t able to give us the advice we needed. In the early years, I thought there was something wrong with me and I would always feel unwell. Mainstream helps for many things. However some of us have had to step outside to find ways to be really well.

This conversation has been a good reminder for me personally. Feeling reasonable well I think I had become complacent. My energy levels had dropped somewhat and I was falling into the trap of putting a few nigggles down to old age. I have reviewed what I am doing and noticing improvement already. To feel really well at 76 is very worthwhile and long may it last.

Thank you Selina,
it appears we are the only ones left here judging by the number of thumbs ups, but I would also like to share something with you that will be of great benefit to you. My wife and I swear by it, but watch out for the naysayers and scam-callers.
This post is for you and you only……………………..
http://www.heavenearth.co.uk/cellfood.htm
Health-professional testimonials………………
http://cellfood.contactplus.com/Cellfood_Testimonials.html

To your continued good health, and to finish with my two favorite quotes……………..
“Yours for health truth and medical liberty”.
“Educating instead of Medicating”.

Take care.

Stuart, you said……………
“However, you seem happy to draw much wider conclusions about how it supports the use of supplements as a prophylactic against all diseases”.

Indeed, because these conclusions are based on recent evidence on Vitamin D3 as a prophylactic against some diseases, I did not say all diseases, so for example……….
http://drsorenson.blogspot.com/2009/01/how-soon-will-you-lose-your-teeth-with.html
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7353448
http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/news-archive/2006/epidemic-influenza-and-vitamin-d/
The Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego………………..
http://www.naturalnews.com/023031_vitamin_D_African_Americans.html
http://www.ajcn.org/content/79/3/362.long
http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2006/mar2006_report_vitamind_01.htm

And you also stated………….
“Also, are you now saying that RCTs are the gold standard of evidence, or is this a temporary change of stance to fit the issue in hand”?

Now there definitely seems to be some comprehension issues here, as I have never stated that RCT’s are not accurate sources of medical evidence. What I have actually said, is that RCT’s are considered to be the gold standard of evidence by the medical fraternity, and for the most part are so, as long as they are conducted without bias; but that can sometimes depend on who is funding the study.

Stuart says:
2 March 2012

“prophylactic against some diseases, I did not say all diseases, so for example……….”

“http://drsorenson.blogspot.com/2009/01/how-soon-will-you-lose-your-teeth-with.html”

An article on teeth which is only relevant if you are Vit D DEFICIENT in the first place. Laughable.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7353448

In cases of people with chronic cholestatic liver disease. You either havent read the paper, or you don’t understand it. Nothing to do with general population.

http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/news-archive/2006/epidemic-influenza-and-vitamin-d/

Strange how you dont apply the principle above of checking for bias on this one. “The Vitamin D Council”. Biased, not peer reviewed. No supporting evidence.

The Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego………………..
http://www.naturalnews.com/023031_vitamin_D_African_Americans.html

Related to African Americans only. No references to the studies cited.

http://www.ajcn.org/content/79/3/362.long

Recommends exposure to sunlight + eating fortified foods. Or use of supplements. Doesn’t make a case for supplements for the general population.

http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2006/mar2006_report_vitamind_01.htm

Link is broken.

[We’ve edited out part of this comment for being unnecessarily personal. Thanks, mods.]

Maria, you said………………
“The rest of my post pointed out that how the premise, while unsupported was hammered home and that the resorted to the usual highly unethical scaremongering tactics typical of scamsters trying to rip off the gullible. There’s not much you or anyone else can say about that”.

Robust evidence please.
Thank you.

Maria says:
2 March 2012

Robust evidence for what?

Selina Import says:
2 March 2012

Oh dear. 5 thumbs down. Do 5 people really not want me to be well into old age.

I don’t think I have participated here but it seems likely that those giving ‘thumbs down’ may be commenting on some other aspect of Selina’s message rather than whether she lives into old age, which I hope we all do.

Let’s hope we all are all healthy in our later life.

Maria & Stuart,
best to leave this alone now. You are both of a fixed opinion/mindset, and even the mod’s have moderated your post Stuart for being too personal.
I am as fed up with this as you probably are.
Please do your own research with an open and inquiring mind, and if you still reach the same conclusions then so be it, as this could go on till doomsday.

I do think believe that it is time to pull the plug on this discussion, as Patrick suggested recently.