Better Acupuncture

Vitamin supplements – expensive urine or life-saving insurance?

By Dr. Andrew Godenick ND L.Ac

As a naturopathic physician and acupuncturist, I have found that the great majority of my patients with chronic pain and health concerns, that do not respond well to acupuncture (even when they are committed to acupuncture 2x week and home exercises), often points to a deficiency in the foundational building blocks of repair. Like the construction crew that needs raw materials (brick and mortar) to build a strong foundation of a skyscraper, the effectiveness of acupuncture and your ability to reach the heights of optimal wellness, is dependent upon the nutrient status of the body. In fact, every cell in your body needs a broad range of essential nutrients (vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fatty acids) on a daily basis to replace worn out cells. This is vital to fully recovering from injury or illness, and evidence shows that if you rely on a ‘regular diet’, you may be severely lacking certain vitamins, increasing your risk of developing chronic disease.

Investigators reviewed studies published between 1966 and 2002 and submitted two articles in the June 19, 2002 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). They presented studies showing how suboptimal Folic Acid levels, Vitamins B6 and B12, are significant risk factors for cardiovascular disease, neural tube defects, and colon and breast cancer. Additional evidence showed how taking Vitamin E at recommended levels reduced risk of cancer, and supplementing Vitamin D plus calcium decreased the risk of bone loss and fracture in the elderly. Researchers went on to say that even people who eat a “normal diet” may not be getting enough of certain vitamins, and deficiencies can become even worse for people who drink alcohol (needing extra Folic Acid) and those who follow restrictive diets (vegetarian, vegan, low carbohydrate). Furthermore, the review pointed out that as people age, they become less able to absorb some vitamins from their diets, leading to a greater risk of vitamin deficiency, particularly in the elderly.

The high prevalence of suboptimal vitamin levels in the body implies that the Standard American Diet (and general food supply) in the United States provides an insufficient amount of the necessary vitamins to prevent chronic disease. Because low vitamin intake has been linked to a whole host of illnesses, the authors of the JAMA review, Drs. Kathleen M. Fairfield and Robert H. Fletcher of Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, recommend that EVERYONE, regardless of age or health status, take a daily multivitamin.

Unfortunately, some physicians may not understand the dangers of vitamin deficiency and fail to recommend multivitamins. This is why it is important to talk to a properly trained acupuncturist/healthcare provider about your diet and what medications or supplements you are taking, so they can guide you in modifying your food choices and put together a personalized nutritional supplement program specific to your needs. So the next time you hear someone say: “All you get from taking vitamin supplements is expensive urine” – you can counter with this review of ‘Harvard Doctors Approved’ insurance against chronic disease!

Posted in: Acupuncture

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