Can Seniors Find a Better Quality of Life from Taking Supplements?

Medical Reality 101, for Seniors

by Ralph Campbell, MD

(OMNS, Apr 3, 2017) I hate to admit it, but I am getting older. For some time I had noticed that my contemporaries were getting older but deluded myself into thinking that I was on a separate path. Joining the seniors’ bunch makes me more empathetic and understanding of their views on medical care, drugs, and the “good life.”

Incremental changes in what now passes for “health care” have been so subtle (like the frog in the ever increasingly hot water) that many are uncritically and thoroughly trusting the system and the doctors in it. The inborn sense of trust was created back in the days where one could actually converse with the doctor and, together, a plan for diagnosing and treatment was developed. It was a personal relationship. There is no better way of developing trust than establishing good doctor-patient rapport.

Current feeling goes something like this:

“Doctors are well-trained and know what they are doing. They are backed by agencies like the Food and Drug Administration, an organization designed to keep us safe by checking out new drugs for their safety and efficacy. Surely, we must trust our government. If drug costs and hospitalization are paid for by my well-earned Medicaid (or Social Security) benefits, I’m in good shape.”

The average older senior takes 5 or more prescription drugs per day, plus untold over-the-counter drugs.

Most oldsters are old enough to remember the nutrition revolution of the 60s. Meat, potatoes and Wonder bread were replaced. Well, at least the conversation switched to whole grains and lots more fruits and vegetables [and by the way don’t cook the heck out of the veggies].

Sometimes even sprouts, never before considered edible, were mixed in with avocado and whole grain bread to form a tasty sandwich. At that time the mantra was “listen to your body,” meaning do some of your own personal research and talk over your findings with your doctor. I would tell my patients “Don’t worry about being labeled an upstart, for your idea of what is going on could be valuable.”

Today’s typical 10-minute visit with a doctor who has one eye on his/her computer, one on his/her watch, and rarely one of these on the patient, is not conducive to achieving a productive visit. An adequate nutrition history cannot be obtained, nor does this seem to matter. As Dr. Andrew Saul points out in That Vitamin Movie, doctors of medicine are called that for a reason: they are trained in medicine, not nutrition. It has been slow in coming, but

recently some medical schools are admitting the deficiency in the curriculum. One school is having third-year students raise vegetables and learn how to prepare them. This is a very good, but late, start. This longstanding void in nutrition knowledge has been more than filled with medicines.

If seniors go for the “vitamins just make expensive urine” bit, then starting on vitamins just amounts to taking more pills.

I cannot understand how a practicing physician can possibly keep tabs on the proliferation of new drugs. Soon after a popular drug has to go generic, several new look-alikes appear on the market, accompanied by the ads we abhor: a brief description of what the medicine is for, and then a show of recipients enthusiastically partaking in joyous occasions . . . while the narrator delivers, in subdued tones, the side effects that might include “occasional death.” However, many feel that if they get the hang of the meaning of a disorder, and the name of a wonder drug, that is all they need to know. Leave the rest to the doctor.

It is a tough sell trying to convince those so locked into the system that medicines are designed to relieve symptoms. Few actually bring about a cure. True preventive measures can only come from basic nutrition, life-style practices and, usually, taking supplements—mainly of megadose vitamins. The “big three” serious causes of disability and death in seniors are cardiovascular disease (1) cancer (2) and Alzheimer’s disease (3). They are preventable diseases. The thought of “a cure for cancer” is unachievable: mere pie in the sky. We haven’t yet found a cure for cancer, but we do know there is a high reoccurrence rate in those who have achieved a remission from chemotherapy. And we certainly know that the origin of many cancers is due to exposure to environmental toxins.

Medicine remains reluctant to acknowledge the role of nutritional deficiencies as causal factors and even more reluctant to support megadose vitamin therapies. We must overcome the wishful belief that we are on the right track and actually get on the right one. This means utilizing the knowledge we have of what works. What do we have to lose, while others wait amidst false pharmaceutical dreams, by getting on the new track and seeing where it goes? A safe, healthy and delightful journey awaits.

(Ever youthful at 89, pediatrician Ralph Campbell, MD, is the author of The Vitamin Cure for Children’s Health Problems and also The Vitamin Cure for Infant and Toddler Health Problems. He personally works a cherry orchard in rural Montana.)

To learn more about:

1. Cardiovascular disease

Two Vitamin C Tablets Every Day Could Save 200,000 Lives Every Year:
Ascorbate Supplementation Reduces Heart Failure
http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v07n14.shtml

Vitamin C and Cardiovascular Disease
http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v06n20.shtml 
and also http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v01n02.shtml

2. Cancer

Vitamins Decrease Lung Cancer Risk by 50%
http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v07n13.shtml

Daily Multivitamin Reduces Cancer Risk: Even Low-Dose
Supplementation Would Save 48,000 Lives Annually
http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v08n32.shtml

Antioxidants Prevent Cancer and Some May Even Cure It
http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v09n02.shtml

Natural Vitamin E Prevents, Reverses Lung Cancer
http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v10n07.shtml

3. Alzheimer’s disease

Vitamins Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v09n30.shtml

High Doses of Vitamins Fight Alzheimer’s Disease: Why Don’t Doctors Recommend Them Now?
http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v04n25.shtml

Nutritional Medicine is Orthomolecular Medicine

Orthomolecular medicine uses safe, effective nutritional therapy to fight illness. For more information: http://www.orthomolecular.org

This article has been written by a representative of the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service. Feel free to look at the OMNS free subscription link http://orthomolecular.org/subscribe.html and also the OMNS archive link http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/index.shtml

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4 comments

  1. Thank you for this very insightful article. I will certainly be studying the resources at the bottom. As a (reluctant) senior, I have chosen a lifestyle of prevention, and am excited to learn more about the role of specific vitamins for specific health issues.

  2. Jennifer Corson

    I have seen this with my Grandmother. When she was so sick her doctor never once tried to encourage her to change her diet or take supplements. It’s sad because it’s the same with pediatricians with our little ones.

  3. More and more studies are showing that a healthy diet and lifestyle can not only prevent, but very likely reverse many ailments. Quality nutritional supplements added into a daily regimen help support our bodies needs. It is also a wonderful thing when you find a doctor that understands and supports this mindset.

  4. carolyn b. calhoun

    I know from first hand the harm caused by not encouraging our parents to eat healthy and take proper vitamins to help prevent health problems as they age. They were taught that prescription drugs were their only hope. I know that my Dad died long before he should have due to the ineffective drugs he was placed on. Thank you for this article…EAT RIGHT…STAY HEALTHY

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