Hostile Bedfellows Assail Vitamins

Part 2 of “Media May Kill Vitamins”  – Submitted as a guest editorial by Suzanne Jenkins, November 29, 2011

Over-the-counter dietary supplements are endangered as evidenced by ongoing attacks reported in the media. Currently Senator Dick Durbin and Congressman Henry Waxman are trying a new tactic to discredit dietary supplements after previous legislative failures by asking the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review adverse event report data for dietary supplements only, excluding the far more dangerous and numerous adverse event reports for drugs and vaccines. Since the media shapes public opinion, individuals and special interest groups that are hostile to dietary supplements will continue to use the media to discredit them and ultimately make them ineffective or unavailable to the public in the over-the-counter manner we enjoy now.

Two thirds of Americans take dietary supplements every day. A significant number of physicians take supplements and recommend at least a multi-  vitamin/mineral combination to their patients. Most supplement takers are well educated and have studied how to use good nutrition and dietary supplements to stay well or improve their health. The skilled choose a healthy lifestyle including a good diet, exercise, stress-reduction and targeted dietary supplements as their first line of defense to maintain and regain health, looking to drugs and the rest of the conventional medical model only when necessary.

Many retiring baby boomers are especially interested in longevity medicine — living healthier and longer by nourishing their brains and bodies in well thought out plans using foods and supplements to prevent or postpone dementia, osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc. It is the do-it-yourselfers that bypass conventional medicine’s “standard of care” as much as possible that are a threat to drug companies and government control.

The not-so-well-informed are easily frightened by the attacks on supplements. Many people are unaware of the behind-the-scene shenanigans by politicians and their alphabet agencies such as the FDA — entities that are supposed to protect the public. Adding to the confusion is media failure to provide the public with balanced information. What we have is mainstream corporate journalism devoted to official positions that encourage public fear and corporate greed to dominate the health care landscape.

When one sees an assault on dietary supplements it comes from the conventional arm of medicine – the arm that has established itself as the “standard of care” and the only care that is reimbursed by insurance. Of course, education and discretion in the arena of dietary supplements is necessary. One wouldn’t go into a pharmacy and start taking every drug in sight. The same applies to dietary supplements.  A good multi-vitamin/mineral preparation without iron (look for the GMP seal or its equivalent) is a good place to start while one is learning about the benefits and risks of more sophisticated applications.

When it comes to dietary supplements, a quick way for the public to determine which conflicting medical faction is vying for their allegiance is to look at the rhetoric and source of information. This is important because the media takes all of the health-related information it reports to the public from conventional sources, sources which officially promote that Americans get all of the nutrients they need from a good diet.

The ongoing attack on supplements boils down to money and control issues involving a multifaceted mix of players. In the U.S., the powerful pharmaceutical industry uses its money to influence policy. Politicians need money to fund campaigns for public office. News media, both printed and electronic, accepts advertising dollars from pharmaceutical interests, which makes it easier for media to look the other way instead of reporting on the influence of pharmaceutical dollars as a major source of problems in U.S. health care.

The scenario looks like this:

  • Over-the-counter dietary supplements are the primary source of competition for the pharmaceutical industry.
  • Americans spend $27 billion on dietary supplements; pharmaceutical interests want to re-route the money to their bottom line.
  • In order for the federal government and the medical industry to control health care completely, over-the-counter supplements must be banned or reduced to an ineffective dosage.
  • With Medicare spending projected to increase to $900 billion by 2018, the Feds are looking for ways to trim cost and dietary supplements are on the Feds’ radar screen as a cost-cutting measure, thus providing more incentive for pharmaceutical interests to gain control of supplements.
  • DSHEA (Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994) presents a problem for conventional medicine. DSHEA gives Americans the right to purchase safe, over-the-counter supplements in useful dosages.
  • The FDA is currently attempting to undermine and re-write DSHEA by re-defining the terms regulating dietary supplements in its new Draft Guidance.  NDI (new dietary ingredients) is a side door which provides an indirect way to decimate the dietary supplement industry by increasing the cost to manufacturers in the name of providing a higher degree of “safety” for products appearing on the market after 1994, resulting in increased seizure of products and driving smaller companies out of business.  The newer products which could disappear include supplements such as the Ubiquinol form of CoQ10, Resveratrol, Grape Seed Extract, Pycnogenol,  Alpha Lipoic Acid, N-Acetyl-Cysteine, Green Tea Extract, etc. Details may be found in the FDA’s “Draft Guidance for Industry: Dietary Supplements: New Dietary Ingredients: Notifications and Related Issues.”
  • On the international front, the U.S. signed the World Health Organization’s trade agreement, Codex Alimentarius, which may supersede the laws of the countries signing it. Countries not in compliance are considered holdouts and may not be allowed to trade. Codex has the potential to override our DSHEA if the FDA doesn’t undercut it first.
  • When pharmaceutical interests control the supplement industry, conventional medicine will control health care options.

A take-over of dietary supplements by conventional medicine will destroy the self-care/wellness care industry, reduce the quality of life for many, and result in premature death for people who depend on supplements to survive. This is especially true  where conventional treatments have failed but individuals have found a restorative combination of options beyond standard of care.

In the U.S., conventional medicine’s “standard of care” for health care is based on detecting disease, NOT on preventing it. Conventional doctors are trained to focus on symptoms, identifying and naming the disease, trying to match the drug to the name, and if drugs alone fail, then combinations of surgery, radiation, and drugs may be employed.

In conventional medicine, if there is no insurance code for a health issue, insurance will not pay. Insurance covers very little, other than prescription drugs, surgery and/or radiation, for a recognized health problem. Conventional medicine is a closed system wherein billions of pharmaceutical dollars influence doctors, osteopaths, pharmacists, hospitals, nurses, dietitians, nursing home facilities, insurance companies, research institutions, med school curriculum,  physicians continuing education, Medicare, government regulatory agencies such as the FDA, professional associations such as the AMA, National Cancer Institute, American Heart Association, etc., and politicians who set up the system and allow it to operate in the current manner.

Dietitians also want part of the action. In the state of Texas, registered dietitians (RD’s) petitioned the courts to recognize RD’s as the only legal source for dispensing nutritional information. So far, RD’s have lost their bid for exclusivity but the turf war is also flourishing in the field of nutrition. Fortunately, dietitians are beginning to question the influence of junk food purveyors and the results of overuse and abuse of pharmaceuticals experienced by their clients. You will know dietitians are making progress when foods in hospitals, nursing homes, and public schools are nutritious, delicious, and build health rather than destroy it. Up until recently, dietitians told the public there is no such thing as a bad food, only bad diets.

Quackwatch, an American non-profit organization, has the stated aim of combating health-related frauds, myths, fads, fallacies, and misconduct, according to Wikipedia. Most alternative treatments, including commonly used dietary supplements, are considered quackery on this site. Google “CanLyme, Quackwatch Founder Loses Major Defamation Trial in Hometown” and “Quackwatch Review” by Dr. Ray Sahelian, M.D.

An entrenched medical model built around disease is more profitable for those in control of the system, but it only represents half the deck. Limiting options places a strangle-hold on treatment plans available to the patient, especially in a hospital setting where malnutrition and acquisition of hard-to-treat super bugs like MRSA and C-Diff are common.

Conventional medicine is at its best in acute illness or trauma but doesn’t work well in treating complex, chronic disease because its primary focus is not on understanding the drivers causing the disease and working with reframing how the biology works, using raw materials that build health and removing impediments to good health. However, there are doctors who are becoming more open to modalities outside conventional medicine’s “standard of care” but it may take many years for a discovery to be accepted into clinical practice. People who are seriously ill do not have many years to wait for their physician’s enlightenment or for the system to reinvent itself.

The best health care option is called functional medicine, a patient-centered, science-based health care approach that integrates the best of both traditional Western and alternative or integrative medical practices. Functional and conventional medicine use the same concept of science but the difference is in the details and the application. Functional medicine involves understanding the origins, prevention, and treatment of complex, chronic disease using the continuum concept. There is a continuum from optimal health to hidden imbalance to serious dysfunction to disease. Intervention and reversal of the process can occur anywhere along that continuum, but the sooner it is addressed, the better.

Functional medicine creates a focus on prevention through nutrition, diet, and exercise; use of the latest laboratory testing and other diagnostic techniques; and prescribed combinations of drugs and/or botanical medicines, supplements, therapeutic diets, detoxification programs, or stress-management techniques. In the case of inflammation, conventional medicine would suppress it and functional medicine would focus on finding out why inflammation is happening in the first place and change the trigger causing the problem. For example, if an individual has a problem with gluten, a gluten-free diet would be used.

Practitioners of functional medicine look “upstream” to consider the complex web of interactions in the patient’s history, physiology, and lifestyle that can lead to illness. The unique genetic makeup of each patient is considered, along with both internal and external factors.

Functional medicine is a whole-system medicine; a GPS system that connects the the patient to the whole story of medical science by looking for and addressing upstream causes of downstream disease processes before they become debilitating or life threatening. Combining everything that works increases the likelihood of optimal patient outcomes at a lower cost to the system and the individual.

No American wants to be without conventional medicine’s crisis intervention in acute, life threatening situations but it shouldn’t be the only choice for chronic health problems that are managed best by an integrative approach.

The media needs to question conventional medicine’s obsession with the risk of taking supplements rather than with the value supplements provide to the knowledgeable consumer. Today, 50,000 Americans have no insurance to pay for U.S. health care, which is the most expensive and fragmented health care in the world. People need access to diverse, not restricted, health care options.

High tech medicine is only about 100 years old. Compare that to other cultures which have thousands of years of historical controls involving the use of diet, plants, and herbs to ameliorate health problems. Conventional U.S. “standard of care” health care is not the repository of all wisdom. For the media to allow itself to be used in the scheme to eventually deny the public access to safe and affordable supplements is a blow to wellness care and freedom of choice.

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Comments (34)

From my study and observation spanning 38 years on this subject, I stand behind this article as entirely accurate. I wish it were not the case. It is unsettling to face this truth. There are so many players, cleverly keeping the majority sicker while extracting a huge financial toll. As a researcher, this atrocity is just one of many in the USA. God help us.

I do not believe in or take pharmaceutical drugs, they do and will kill us. I take and believe in supplements and vitamins.
I am 80 years old and do not subscribe to taking any drug prescribed by a doctor. The government is behind this and needs to get off our back about wanting to live and have a longer life which we are entitled to. Life is beautiful.

Thank you for all you do. Unfortunately I still get frightened at the thought that I could not get my supplements. They have helped me when doctors could not

I do not believe in or taking pharmaceutical drugs, they do and will kill us. I take and believe in supplements and vitamins.
I am 80 years old and do not subscribe to taking any drug prescribed by a doctor. The government is behind this and needs to get off our back about wanting to live and have a longer life which we are entitled to. Life is beautiful.

Bravo, Ms.Jenkins, for your thorough representation of the deceit and greed that motivate the FDA, the pharmaceutical companies, the media, and many congressmen. Every senator and representative should be gathered together in the halls of Congress to hear Ms. Jenkins deliver her message!

You have to understand where the government is coming from. In your third paragraph you stated many baby boomers are interested in longevity and the supplements that may encourage that. Our government is not interested in longevity, they see the elderly as a drain on resources, but you say, with supplements we will not be a drain, doesn’t matter, big pharma wants us addicted to their drugs from birth thru death. If you go to the freedom of info and look for memo’s during the bush admin. you will find notes from meetings when discussing the casualties as a acceptable consequence (babies and elderly) when pushing for a national agenda on taking vaccines. I have very little faith left in our government as the watch dog for the nation’s best interest. Our government is the best that money could buy.

Do the right thing for common Americans, including children and the elderly. Keep supplements free from Pharmaceutical control and influence. Thanks.

This cruel and insane. This country is turning into a sick society of greed. The politicians do not want to to see people live to live as long as the hope to. This is a sad day in America,land of the free.

please do not let the government take away our right to choose how we take care of our health!

Why can’t the media print the benefits & help from supplements. Supplements have helped my husband with heart disease, & his Cardiologist told him it was ok to use them. Keep up the good work, Citizens for Health, keep us informed & protesting these “new laws” they are trying to force on us!!!

what can the ordinary citizen do to stop or mitigate the assault on supplements?

I am a living breathing example of how conventional medicine has failed, but functional medicine has prevailed.

Does this make me believe conventional medicine is worthless in our society – No!

Both types of medicine have their place and should be used for different purposes even though the end result will be the same- better health. Unfortunately now, one particular industry has decided the whole system should be theirs and theirs alone. But what no one in that segment seems to care about, their style of medicine does not have the capability of contributing to the extension of a quality life. Often, their style may give the extension but we the consumer have to sacrifice the quality.

I will forever be indebted to functional, integretive, alternative, complementary or whatever name is the current “pet name” of an industry just trying to prove it is also a viable choice in the field of healthcare. It’s a shame that the “children” at the top of conventional medicine (and it’s corporate interests) can’t get by their squabbles and realize there is enough of the “pie” for all to share for the betterment of the human race.

It is unconscionable what is happening in our healthcare system. I am finding even some doctors that I considered concerned and caring are marketing synthetic vitamins to make additional money, not as concerned about the well being of their patients. Their patients are being given the wrong information about the quality of these vitamins, many have small bits of LEAD that are now affecting our water systems.

When will this greediness stop, as a country we are killing ourselves and not doing what is right for individuals and our environment.

We need to open the door to more valuable alternative care to be covered by insurance companies and not be restricted to only the BIG COMPANIES that introduce their products to the market, make their money, sometimes the SIDE EFFECTS of these meds PROVE to cause other problems down the road for the patient. It is a vicious cycle that only temporarily deals with their problems, sometimes causing other severe problems, including death. I would like to see more valuable choices available for people and to have acknowledged other more products that actually get the person BETTER in a safer way…Yes, FREEDOM OF CHOICE is the door to better health.
I do see the advantages of medical technology and have been helped by it, however my aftercare has been a challenge as I advocate and make my decisions on what is the best way to keep my health rather than masking it with medications that have side effects. THere are alternative choices that have been invaluable and that I struggle to pay out of pocket, but I do so as I know they work, I have noticed the difference.

If we could get FDAs hand out of big pharma,s pocket, all of this would probably go away

this is suppose to be a free country to choose as you elect.we mdont need the fda and big goverment to rule our life.the drug company is a hog and they nwant all the money and i dont wantto hear that they are doing this for our own father had a great saying for these people BS

Thanks for telling it like it is. It is very unfortunate that profits rule. Our health care system doesn’t condone prevention because there is no profit in promoting that concept. It is unfortunate that American health is compromisewd by profit of drug companies and their influence. 34% of the worlds drugs are consumed by Americans and we are one of only two countries in the world that allow drugs to be advertised on TV.

I support Health Freedom and condemn all attempts to limit our access to them. I am a member of a National Health Freedom group and also condemn the efforts to limit access on a world wide basis as in the Codex Alimentarius.

Do not take away our rights!

Would like to post this to our blog and website.

keep the greedy political government and the drug industry out of our lives. i am 86 –taken natural vitamins for many years and in good health. drugs only cut the pain, do not fix the problem. feed the body what it needs and it will heal itself. norm baker–w2 navy vet. Keep On It!!

Looks like our opposition is calling in support from everywhere to tighten the noose around our necks.

The nerve of the dietitians wanting to be deemed the only legal ones to dispense nutritional information. Its by trial and error on our individual parts that tells us what works for us and whar does not.

How, in a democracy, can this basic right to choose our own path to health care be in jeopardy? What gives Dick Durbin and Henry Waxman the power to take this away from us. This arbitrary move seems like something that could and would happen in a dictatorship. Why are these two characters not challenged on that issue alone? What qualifies these two characters to make these decisions for millions of our country’s citizens? How did they get this power? Isn’t it time to question their authority over our rights as U.S. citizens? Who gave them this power? How is it that millions of us stand to suffer the consequences of these two characters’ scheme to destroy our right to choose health over dependence on the traditional medical system’s questionabale practice of prevention vs. treatment “after the fact”? We do not live in Russia! Even Cuba recognizes natural health care more than we do in this country. How far “ahead” of them are we? Should we all pack up and move to a country where our rights to pursue health in our own way are honored? These two characters are beyond ignorant. They are despicable, and should be removed from any semblance of power that they have been given. It needs to be taken away from them immediately before any further damage can be done. This is a misuse and abuse of their power.

Glenda M. Ramsey

Since the health and alternative medicine fields are raking in the billions, it seems they should be able to come up with the money needed to fight back. After all, it’s their livelihood against big Pharma’s would-be takeover, so why not able to fund an all out war? I don’t see enough fighting back, defending. I just see them sitting by and waiting until Codex and the FDA take over. It doesn’t make sense. There is enough money and many ways to fight back. Why isn’t it happening? You could have it all over TV, and not to speak of all the alternative health radio programs with millions of people calling in, hey, we know they are trying to dupe us. Where is the leadership in this battle? You want some ballistic warriors – how about gay groups, they need their supplements and wheat grass to fight HIV.
Someone needs to write and popularize a book with stories, stories, stories, like they did with Life After Life and Depak Chopra. More TV documentaries. More documentaries on the Pain Clinics in Switzerland, how they incorporate all modalities in one clinic. MDs and Chinese Doctors, all in the same clinic! I went there, I know! That needs more publicity. They need to be interviewed – they all speak English, to give their testimonies in a nationwide documentary about how they have discovered that patients improve when given choices and combinations of all different types of therapies! And that supplements work better when they are from authentic organic sources, not isolated, lab-produced synthetic versions.
Better yet, get someone to make a movie like Star Wars, of Contagion, and have the central theme, besides a gripping and tragic love story or a family, a world class movie that glorifies freedom to use supplements and natural vitamins. Hollywood and entertainment can have a greater impact than fighting the FDA. Look at what AVATAR accomplished. We need more of this, and hollywood will be glad to take on the challenge. You cannot outlaw movies. They can sway the public even more than the media. You just have to get smart screen writers.

This is a request for the people who take supplements to leave the decision to us. I have used supplements for years and my health has improved greatly. We should have the right to take supplements and vitamins if we chose. They are safe and should be left to the individual to take these if we chose.

[…] Tags: Claims, DSHEA Under Fire, FDA, Health Care Policy, ndi draft guidance, Safety & Quality, Supplements, Suzanne Jenkins via […]

Keep up the good work, because I am one of millions that would be severely compromised with drugs if I had not of found solutions in Natural Health and the foods and supplements that I rely on today. Thanks to the practice I am now on, I take NO drugs and I have mostly recovered my health. Thank you very much for what you are doing. I am now age 70 and doing well, but I need my supplements.

Not arguing with your overall article, but here in New Mexico, major insurers typically pay for treatment with acupuncture and some other modalities used by Doctors of Oriental Medicine like me. There are some chinks in the armor of what one of my colleagues calls “industrial medicine.”

[…] Hostile Bedfellows Assail Vitamins One wouldn't go into a pharmacy and start taking every drug in sight. The same applies to dietary supplements. A good multi-vitamin/mineral preparation without iron (look for the GMP seal or its equivalent) is a good place to . […]

TruthOut has just reported(12dec11): EXCLUSIVE: Under Industry Pressure, USDA Works to Speed Approval of Monsanto’s Genetically Engineered Crops … best to read the whole horrific article at:

It surely seems that integrity sits in the back of the bus in the USA when it stands in the face PROFIT. May OWS wake us to the sorry truth of this our deteriorating nation. The Federal Reserve “private” banking system is a disease that must be irradicated. Money as debt is a cancer upon society. Agent Orange was sprayed on Eglin AFB Florida Agent Orange was sprayed on other military bases in America and on public land Agent orange was sprayed in other countries.

Who do you know that was at any of the above locations? Who do you knw that died from cancer , nerve damage, lung problems, diabetes and more? What about their children that was born with problems because of the parent exposure to agent orange!

Do our government go after the company that made it and knew it was toxic in 1967 but kept selling it to the DOD and they kept sparying it. Was it just for profits. Did the DOD commit bio warfare on America. If Al Quada did what they did, people would be put in jail for life. Did to many people in our corupt govenment get paid to pass laws to let it happen? Did they to make money of the stock of the sale of Agent Orange?

Twenty years ago I had double by-pass surgery. I have kept my arteies clear through diet, exercise and supplements at no cost to the health care system. The proposed changes to DSHEA will interfere with my well being. Every drug made has a long list of side effects and dose not always work. When the body is sick it is not due to a drug deficiency. In some cases a drug may be necessary.

As long as we’re focused on health care, alternative or conventional instead of actually being healthy, we’re going to keep missing the results we all can agree on, like say, actually being healthy.

[…] that more than half of all Americans use supplements. The food and drug supplement market is approaching $ 27 billion in sales; and we are buying. As Americans are facing increasing healthcare costs and rising concerns of […]

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