Vitamin Bashing in the Media

Heard Anything Bad About Vitamins Lately?



By golly, Lincoln was right. You really can fool some of the people all of the time. When the topic is vitamins, some of the most easily fooled are news broadcasters and newspaper reporters.

NBC's supplement-bashing headline article displays an ignorance of clinical nutrition that is difficult to ignore, so we haven't. Read the rest of the story..

IF YOU HAVE RECENTLY HEARD THAT VITAMINS ARE HARMFUL, you may want to read this page, or at least as much of it as you need to get your perspective back.

[Are you looking for information on a particular vitamin? Please scroll down the page.]

How to Make People Believe Any Anti-Vitamin Scare
It Just Takes Lots of Pharmaceutical Industry Cash

by Andrew W. Saul

Recent much trumpeted anti-vitamin news is the product of pharmaceutical company payouts. No, this is not one of "those" conspiracy theories. Here's how it's done:

1) Cash to study authors. Many of the authors of a recent negative vitamin E paper (1) have received substantial income from the pharmaceutical industry. The names are available in the last page of the paper (1556) in the "Conflict of Interest" section. You will not see them in the brief summary at the JAMA website. A number of the study authors have received money from pharmaceutical companies, including Merck, Pfizer, Sanofi-Aventis, AstraZeneca, Abbott, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen, Amgen, Firmagon, and Novartis.

2) Advertising revenue. Many popular magazines and almost all major medical journals receive income from the pharmaceutical industry. The only question is, how much? Pick up a copy of the publication and count the pharmaceutical ads. The more space sold, the more revenue for the publication. If you try to find their advertisement revenue, you'll see that they don't disclose it. So, just count the Pharma ads. Look in them all: Readers Digest , JAMA, Newsweek, Time, AARP Today, NEJM, Archives of Pediatrics. Even Prevention magazine. Practically any major periodical.

3) Rigged trials. Yes, it is true and yes it is provable. In a recent editorial, we explained how trials of new drugs are often rigged at . Studies of the health benefits of vitamins and essential nutrients also appear to be rigged. This can be easily done by using low doses to guarantee a negative result, and by biasing the interpretation to show a statistical increase in risk.

4) Bias in what is published, or rejected for publication. The largest and most popular medical journals receive very large income from pharmaceutical advertising. Peer-reviewed research indicates that this influences what they print, and even what study authors conclude from their data. .

5) Censorship of what is indexed and available to doctors and the public. Public tax money pays for censorship in the largest public medical library on the planet: the US National Library of Medicine (MEDLINE/PubMed). See also:

Don't Believe It?

How well were these pro-vitamin, anti-drug studies covered in the mass media?

  • A Harvard study showed a 27% reduction in AIDS deaths among patients given vitamin supplements. (2)
  • There have been no deaths from vitamins in 27 years.
  • Antibiotics cause 700,000 emergency room visits per year, just in the US. (3)
  • Modern drug-and-cut medicine is at least the third leading cause of death in the USA. Some estimates place medicine as the number one cause of death. (4)
  • Over 1.5 million Americans are injured every year by drug errors in hospitals, doctors' offices, and nursing homes. If in a hospital, a patient can expect at least one medication error every single day. (5)
  • More than 100,000 patients die every year, just in the US, from drugs properly prescribed and taken as directed. (6)

Double Standard

Countless comedians have made fun of the incompetent physician who, when called late at night during a life- threatening disease crisis, says, "take two aspirin and call me in the morning." It's no longer funny. One of the largest pharmaceutical conglomerates in the world ran prime- time national television commercials that declared: "Bayer aspirin may actually help stop you from dying if you take it during a heart attack." The company also promotes such use of its product on the Internet. , formerly

Daily Aspirin Use Linked With Pancreatic Cancer

Here's something you may have not seen. Research has shown that women who take just one aspirin a day, "which millions do to prevent heart attack and stroke as well as to treat headaches - may raise their risk of getting deadly pancreatic cancer. . . . Pancreatic cancer affects only 31,000 Americans a year, but it kills virtually all its victims within three years. The study of 88,000 nurses found that those who took two or more aspirins a week for 20 years or more had a 58 percent higher risk of pancreatic cancer." (7) Women who took two or more aspirin tablets per day had an alarming 86 percent greater risk of pancreatic cancer.

Study author Dr. Eva Schernhammer of Harvard Medical School was quoted as saying: "Apart from smoking, this is one of the few risk factors that have been identified for pancreatic cancer. Initially we expected that aspirin would protect against pancreatic cancer."

How about that.

Say: What if there was one, just one case of pancreatic cancer caused by a vitamin? What do you think the press would have said about that?

The fact is, vitamins are known to be effective and safe. They are essential nutrients, and when taken at the proper doses over a lifetime, are capable of preventing a wide variety of diseases. Because drug companies can't make big profits developing essential nutrients, they have a vested interest in agitating for the use of drugs and disparaging the use of nutritional supplements.


1. Klein EA, Thompson Jr, IM, Tangen CM et al. JAMA. 2011;306(14):1549-1556.

2. Fawzi WW, Msamanga GI, Spiegelman D, Wei R, Kapiga S, Villamor E, Mwakagile D, Mugusi F, Hertzmark E, Essex M, Hunter DJ. A randomized trial of multivitamin supplements and HIV disease progression and mortality. N Engl J Med. 2004 Jul 1;351(1):23-32.

3. Associated Press, Oct 17, 2006.

4. Null G, Dean C, Feldman M, Rasio D. Death by medicine. J Orthomolecular Med, 2005. 20: 1, 21-34.

5. The Associated Press. Drug errors injure more than 1.5 million a year. July 20, 2006.

6. Leape LL. Institute of Medicine medical error figures are not exaggerated. JAMA, 2000. Jul 5;284(1):95-7; Leape LL. Error in medicine. JAMA, 1994. Dec 21;272(23):1851-7; Lazarou J, Pomeranz BH, Corey PN. Incidence of adverse drug reactions in hospitalized patients: a meta-analysis of prospective studies. JAMA, 1998. Apr 15;279(15):1200-5.

7. Fox M. Daily aspirin use linked with pancreatic cancer. Reuters, Oct 27, 2003.



The American Association of Poison Control Centers, which maintains the USA’s national database from nearly 60 poison control centers, indicates that even including intentional and accidental misuse, the number of vitamin fatalities is less than one death per year.

And, it turns out, that there is NO documented evidence that any one of those alleged "deaths" was due to a vitamin. No evidence whatsoever.

Drugs, however, are an entirely different matter:

Harmful reactions to some of the most widely used medicines — from insulin to a common antibiotic — sent more than 700,000 Americans to emergency rooms each year, landmark government research shows.” (Associated Press, Oct 17, 2006)



The news media can be absolutely relied on to trumpet any allegation that vitamins are harmful. Vitamin E has been accused of actually causing deaths. Even multivitamins have been accused of causing deaths.


What Kind of Medical Study Would Have Grandma Believe that Her Daily Multivitamin is Dangerous? 

by Robert G. Smith, PhD

A newly released study suggests that multivitamin and nutrient supplements can increase the mortality rate in older women [1]. However, there are several concerns about the study's methods and significance.

  • The study was observational, in which participants filled out a survey about their eating habits and their use of supplements. It reports only a small increase in overall mortality (1%) from those taking multivitamins. This is a small effect, not much larger than would be expected by chance. Generalizing from such a small effect is not scientific.

  • The study actually reported that taking supplements of B-complex, vitamins C, D, E, and calcium and magnesium were associated with a lower risk of mortality. But this was not emphasized in the abstract, leading the non-specialist to think that all supplements were associated with mortality. The report did not determine the amounts of vitamin and nutrient supplements taken, nor whether they were artificial or natural. Further, most of the association with mortality came from the use of iron and copper supplements, which are known to be potentially inflammatory and toxic when taken by older people, because they tend to accumulate in the body [2,3,4]. The risk from taking iron supplements should not be generalized to imply that all vitamin and nutrient supplements are harmful.

  • The study lacks scientific plausibility for several reasons. It tabulated results from surveys of 38,000 older women, based on their recall of what they ate over an 18-year period. But they were only surveyed 3 times during that period, relying only on their memory of what foods and supplements they took. This factor alone causes the study to be unreliable.
  • Some of these women smoked (~15%) or had previously (~35%), some drank alcohol (~45%), some had high blood pressure (~40%), and many of them developed heart disease and/or cancer. Some preexisting medical conditions were taken into account by adjusting the risk factors, but this caused the study to contradict what we already know about efficacy of supplements. For example, the study reports an increase in mortality from taking vitamin D, when adjusted for several health-relevant factors. However, vitamin D has recently been clearly shown to be helpful in preventing heart disease [5] and many types of cancer [6], which are major causes of death. Furthermore, supplement users were twice as likely to be on hormone replacement therapy, which is a more plausible explanation for increased mortality than taking supplements.

  • The effect of doctor recommendations was not taken into account. By their own repeated admissions, medical doctors and hospital nutritionists are more likely to recommend a daily multivitamin, and only a multivitamin, for their sicker patients. The study did not take this into account. All it did was tabulate deaths and attempt to correct the numbers for some prior health conditions. The numbers reported do not reflect other factors such as developing disease, side effects of pharmaceutical prescriptions, or other possible causes for the mortality. The study only reports statistical correlations, and gives no plausible cause for a claimed increase in mortality from multivitamin supplements.

  • The effect of education was not taken into account. When a doctor gives advice about illnesses, well-educated people will often respond by trying to be proactive. Some will take drugs prescribed by the doctor, and some will try to eat a better diet, including supplements of vitamins and nutrients. This is suggested by the study itself: the supplement users in the survey had more education than those who did not take supplements. It seems likely, therefore, the participants who got sick were more likely to have taken supplements. Because those who got sick are also more likely to die, it stands to reason that they would also be more likely to have taken supplements. This effect is purely statistical; it does not represent an increase in risk that taking supplements of vitamins and essential nutrients will cause disease or death. This type of statistical correlation is very common in observational health studies and those who are health-conscious should not be confounded by it.

  • The known safety of vitamin and nutrient supplements when taken at appropriate doses was not taken into account. The participants most likely took a simple multivitamin tablet, which contains low doses. Much higher doses are also safe [4,7], implying that the low doses in common multivitamin tablets are very safe. Further, because each individual requires different amounts of vitamins and nutrients, some people must take much higher doses for best health [8].

Summary: In an observational study of older women in good health, it was said that those who died were more likely to have taken multivitamin and nutrient supplements than those who did not. The effect was small, and does not indicate any reason for disease or death. Instead, the study's methods suggest that people who have serious health conditions take vitamin and mineral supplements because they know that supplements can help. Indeed, the study showed a benefit from taking B-complex, C, D, and E vitamins, and calcium and magnesium. Therefore, if those wanting better health would take appropriate doses of supplements regularly, they would likely continue to achieve better health and longer life.

(Robert G. Smith is Research Associate Professor, University of Pennsylvania Department of Neuroscience. He is a member of the Institute for Neurological Sciences and the author of several dozen scientific papers and reviews.)


[1] Mursu J, Robien K, Harnack LJ, Park K, Jacobs DR Jr (2011) Dietary supplements and mortality rate in older women. The Iowa Women's Health Study. Arch Intern Med. 171(18):1625-1633.

[2] Emery, T. F. Iron and your Health: Facts and Fallacies. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1991.

[3] Fairbanks, V. F. "Iron in Medicine and Nutrition." Chapter 10 in Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease, editors M. E. Shils, J. A. Olson, M. Shike, et al., 9th ed. Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins, 1999.

[4] Hoffer, A., A. W. Saul. Orthomolecular Medicine for Everyone: Megavitamin Therapeutics for Families and Physicians. Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Publications, 2008.

[5] Parker J, Hashmi O, Dutton D, Mavrodaris A, Stranges S, Kandala NB, Clarke A, Franco OH. Levels of vitamin D and cardiometabolic disorders: systematic review and meta-analysis. Maturitas. 2010 Mar;65(3):225-36.

[6] Lappe JM, Travers-Gustafson D, Davies KM, Recker RR, Heaney RP. Vitamin D and calcium supplementation reduces cancer risk: results of a randomized trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Jun;85(6):1586-91.

[7] Padayatty SJ, Sun AY, Chen Q, Espey MG, Drisko J, Levine M. Vitamin C: intravenous use by complementary and alternative medicine practitioners and adverse effects. PLoS One. 2010 Jul 7;5(7):e11414.

[8] Williams RJ, Deason G. (1967) Individuality in vitamin C needs. Proc Natl Acad SciUSA.57:16381641.

Also of Interest:

Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, April 29, 2010. Multivitamins Dangerous? Latest News from the World Headquarters Of Pharmaceutical Politicians, Educators and Reporters.

HERE IS A SOURCE for reliable information from a publication that is peer-reviewed by a panel of 20 nutritionally-minded researchers and doctors who are in favor of vitamin supplementation:


Vitamin E Attacked Again

Of Course. Because It Works.

by Andrew W. Saul

Editor, Orthomolecular Medicine News Service

(OMNS Oct 14, 2011) The very first Orthomolecular Medicine News Service release was on the clinical benefits of vitamin E. That was seven years ago. (1) In fact, the battle over vitamin E has been going full-tilt for over 60 years. (2)

Well, you can say one thing for vitamin critics: at least they are consistent. Consistently wrong, but consistent.

A recent accusation against vitamin E is that somehow it increases risk of prostate cancer. (3) That is nonsense. If you take close look at the numbers, you will see that “Compared with placebo, the absolute increase in risk of prostate cancer per 1000 person-years was 1.6 for vitamin E, 0.8 for selenium, and 0.4 for the combination.” That works out to be a claimed 0.63% increase risk with vitamin E alone, 0.24% increase in risk with vitamin E and selenium, and 0.15% increase in risk for selenium alone.

Note the decimal points: these are very small figures. But more importantly, note that the combination of selenium with vitamin E resulted in a much smaller number of deaths. If vitamin E were really the problem, vitamin E with selenium would have been a worse problem. Selenium recharges vitamin E, recycling it and effectively rendering it more potent. Something is wrong here, and it isn’t the vitamin E. Indeed, a higher dose of vitamin E might work as well as E with selenium, and be more protective.

And, in fact, this study did show that supplementation was beneficial. Vitamin E and selenium reduced risk of all-cause mortality by about 0.2%., and also reduced the risk of serious cardiovascular events by 0.3%. Vitamin E reduced risk of serious cardiovascular events by 0.7%. But what you were told, and just about all you were told, was “Vitamin E causes cancer!”

The oldest political trick in the book is to create doubt, then fear, and then conformity of action. The pharmaceutical industry knows this full well. One does not waste time and money attacking something that does not work. Vitamin E works, and the evidence is abundant.  

Specifically in regards to prostate cancer, new research published in the International Journal of Cancer has shown that gamma-tocotrienol, a cofactor found in natural vitamin E preparations, actually kills prostate cancer stem cells. (4) As you would expect, these are the very cells from which prostate cancer develops. They are or quickly become chemotherapy-resistant. And yet natural vitamin E complex contains the very thing to kill them. Mice given gamma-tocotrienol orally had an astonishing 75% decrease in tumor formation. Gamma-tocotrienol also is effective against existing prostate tumors. (5,6)


* Vitamin E reduces mortality by 24% in persons 71 or older. Even persons who smoke live longer if they take vitamin E. Hemila H, Kaprio J. Age Ageing, 2011. 40(2): 215-220. January 17.

* Taking 300 IU vitamin E per day reduces lung cancer by 61%. (Mahabir S, Schendel K, Dong YQ et al. Dietary alpha-, beta-, gamma- and delta-tocopherols in lung cancer risk. Int J Cancer. 2008 Sep 1;123(5):1173-80.) For further information: Vitamin E prevents lung cancer. Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, Oct 29, 2008.

* Vitamin E is an effective treatment for atherosclerosis. Drs. Wilfrid and Evan Shute knew this half a century ago. (1) In 1995, JAMA published research that confirmed it, saying: “Subjects with supplementary vitamin E intake of 100 IU per day or greater demonstrated less coronary artery lesion progression than did subjects with supplementary vitamin E intake less than 100 IU per day.” (Hodis HN, Mack WJ, LaBree L et al. Serial coronary angiographic evidence that antioxidant vitamin intake reduces progression of coronary artery atherosclerosis. JAMA, 1995. 273:1849-1854.)

* 400 to 800 IU of vitamin E daily reduces risk of heart attack by 77%. (Stephens NG et al. Randomized controlled trial of vitamin E in patients with coronary artery disease: Cambridge Heart Antioxidant Study (CHAOS). Lancet, March 23, 1996; 347:781-786.)

* Increasing vitamin E with supplements prevents COPD [Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, chronic bronchitis] (Agler AH et al. Randomized vitamin E supplementation and risk of chronic lung disease (CLD) in the Women's Health Study. American Thoracic Society 2010 International Conference, May 18, 2010.) Summary at

* 800 IU vitamin E per day is a successful treatment for fatty liver disease. (Sanyal AJ, Chalasani N, Kowdley KV et al. Pioglitazone, vitamin E, or placebo for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. N Engl J Med. 2010 May 6;362(18):1675-85.)

* Alzheimer's patients who take 2,000 IU of vitamin E per day live longer. (Pavlik VN, Doody RS, Rountree SD, Darby EJ. Vitamin E use is associated with improved survival in an Alzheimer's disease cohort. Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord. 2009;28(6):536-40.) Summary at

See also: Grundman M. Vitamin E and Alzheimer disease: the basis for additional clinical trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Feb;71(2):630S-636S. Free access to full text at )

* 400 IU of Vitamin E per day reduces epileptic seizures in children by more than 60%. (Ogunmekan AO, Hwang PA. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical trial of D-alpha-tocopheryl acetate [vitamin E], as add-on therapy, for epilepsy in children. Epilepsia. 1989 Jan-Feb; 30(1):84-9.)

* Vitamin E supplements help prevent amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). This important finding is the result of a 10-year-plus Harvard study of over a million persons. (Wang H, O'Reilly EJ, Weisskopf MG, et al. Vitamin E intake and risk of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: a pooled analysis of data from 5 prospective cohort studies. Am. J. Epidemiol, 2011. 173 (6): 595-602. March 15)

* Vitamin E is more effective than a prescription drug in treating chronic liver disease (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis). Said the authors: "The good news is that this study showed that cheap and readily available vitamin E can help many of those with this condition.”  Sanyal AJ, Chalasani N,  Kowdley KV et al. Pioglitazone, vitamin E, or placebo for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. N Engl J Med. 2010 May 6;362(18):1675-85.

What Kind of Vitamin E?

Which work best: natural or synthetic vitamins? The general debate might not end anytime soon. However, with vitamin E, we already know. The best E is the most natural form, generally called "mixed natural tocopherols and tocotrienols." This is very different from the synthetic form, DL-alpha tocopherol. In choosing a vitamin E supplement, you should carefully read the label... the entire label. It is remarkable how many natural-looking brown bottles with natural-sounding brand names contain a synthetic vitamin. And no, we do not make brand recommendations. Furthermore, OMNS has no commercial affiliations or funding.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case with some authors of the negative vitamin E paper. (3) You will not see this in the abstract at the JAMA website, of course, but if you read the entire paper, and get to the very last page (1556), you’ll find the “Conflict of Interest” section. Here you will discover that a number of the study authors have received money from pharmaceutical companies, including Merck, Pfizer,  Sanofi-Aventis, AstraZeneca, Abbott, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen, Amgen, Firmagon, and Novartis. In terms of cash, these are some of the largest corporations on the planet.

Well how about that: a “vitamins are dangerous” article, in one of the most popular medical journals, with lots of media hype . . . and the pharmaceutical industry’s fingerprints all over it.

So How Much Vitamin E?

More than the RDA, and that’s for certain. A common dosage range for vitamin E is between 200 and 800 IU/day. Some orthomolecular physicians advocate substantially more than that. The studies cited above will give you a ballpark idea. However, this is an individual matter for you and your practitioner to work out. Your own reading and research, before you go to your doctor, will help you determine optimal intake. If your doctor quotes a negative vitamin study, then haul out the positive ones. You may start with this article. There are more links to more information at and


And as for the old saw argument that supplement-users are supposedly dying like flies, consider this: Over 200 million Americans take vitamin supplements. So where are the bodies? Well, there aren’t any. There has not been a single death from vitamins in 27 years. . Share that with your doctor as well. And with the news media.

(Andrew W. Saul has been an orthomolecular medical writer and lecturer for 35 years. He received the Outstanding Health Freedom Activist Award from Citizen’s for Health, and is the winner of three Empire State teacher fellowships. Saul is author or coauthor of 10 books, four of which are with Abram Hoffer, M.D..)



2. Saul AW. Vitamin E: A cure in search of recognition. J Orthomolecular Med, 2003. Vol 18, No 3 and 4, p 205-212. Free download at or html at . See also: Saul AW. Review of The vitamin E story, by Evan Shute. J Orthomolecular Med, 2002. Volume 17, Number 3, Third Quarter, p 179-181.

3. Klein EA, Thompson Jr, IM, Tangen CM et al. JAMA. 2011;306(14):1549-1556. Also, as an example of many media spins:

4. Sze Ue Luk1, Wei Ney Yap, Yung-Tuen Chiu et al. Gamma-tocotrienol as an effective agent in targeting prostate cancer stem cell-like population. International Journal of Cancer, 2011. Vol 128, No 9, p 2182–2191.

5. Nesaretnam K, Teoh HK, Selvaduray KR, Bruno RS, Ho E. Modulation of cell growth and apoptosis response in human prostate cancer cells supplemented with tocotrienols. Eur. J. Lipid Sci. Technol. 2008, 110, 23-31.

6. Conte C, Floridi A, Aisa C et al.  Gamma-tocotrienol metabolism and antiproliferative effect in prostate cancer cells. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 2004. 1031: 391-4.

Also of interest:

Vitamin E research ignored by major news media. Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, May 25, 2010

You can read more about the safety and effectiveness of vitamin E at


Another well-publicized bit of anti-vitamin E propaganda was: Miller E. R., Pastor-Barriuso R., Dalal D., Riemersma R. A., Appel L. J. & Guallar E. Meta-Analysis: High-dosage vitamin E supplementation may increase all-cause mortality. Ann Intern Med, 4 January 2005. Volume 142, Issue 1.

Simply put, this and similar vitamin-bashing articles are wrong. Their conclusions are pre-ordained; their approach is biased; their research design is faulty. In the present study, even the study authors admitted that "Most of the patients in the trials were over age 60 and were not well." (Billingsley J. Vitamin E linked to higher death rates. HealthDay Reporter, Weds Nov. 10, 2004.)

The reporter adds: "The study 'inappropriately tries to draw conclusions for the whole population based on a combination of studies of people who were already at grave risk with existing diseases, including cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and kidney failure,'" according to the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a dietary-supplement industry association.

"John Hathcock, the Council's vice president for scientific and international affairs, added, 'In reviewing the totality of evidence on vitamin E, including all clinical trial data and several large observational studies, CRN agrees with the Institute of Medicine in finding vitamin E supplements safe at levels of at least up to 1,000 mg (1,600 IU) for normal, healthy adults. This meta-analysis provides no convincing evidence to the contrary.'"

In fact, writes Bill Sardi: "The study authors concluded that 'Overall, vitamin E supplementation did not affect all-cause mortality.' That is not what you heard in televised news reports or in the newspapers. What you heard was there is a 5 to 10 percent (5 to 10 in 100) increased risk of dying from taking high-dose vitamin E supplements. . . (I)n hard numbers the risk rose by 10 in 10,000 persons, or 1 in 1000 (about 1/10th of one percent). . . The authors of the study indicate, among the 19 studies they examined, 'Most of the trials examined targeted populations at high risk for a chronic disease, most often coronary heart disease.' This fact obviously skewed the results."

Indeed, Sardi adds: "A University of North Carolina study of 45,748 participants, aged 50 to 75 years, found that supplement use is higher among people who are battling chronic health conditions and the strongest association was for cardiovascular disease with supplemental vitamin E. [Am Journal Preventive Medicine 24:43-51, 2003]."

To sum it up: Older people are much more likely to have multiple chronic illnesses. Many such people are likely to take higher doses of vitamin E, which while a lifesaver, is not the elixir of immortality. Sadly, older people die. People die in spite of vitamin E, not because of it.


As I wrote in the DOCTOR YOURSELF Newsletter (

"Beware the Meta-Analysis: A meta-analysis is not new research, but a review of existing research. It is not a clinical study, but rather a statistical look at a collection of studies. If you analyze failed studies, you will get a negative meta-analysis. Low-dose vitamin studies are the ones that get negative results. Most vitamin research is low-dose. So where's the surprise?"

Many if not most E-supplementers mistakenly or unknowingly take synthetic vitamin E (DL-alpha tocopherol), which is less effective (and some clinicians think is far less effective) than the natural form. As cardiologists Wilfrid and Evan Shute discovered decades ago, the natural "D" (dextro-, or right-handed) form of the vitamin, plus the other natural mixed tocopherols (beta-, gamma- and delta-tocopherol) are needed for best results. You cannot screw in a left-hand-thread light bulb and expect your lamp to work.

Megadosing with natural vitamin E has been shown to be safe and effective for well over 60 years.

Another opinion:


by Michael Fumento


Less than two months ago I debunked a report in the Lancet medical journal claiming antioxidants slightly increase your chance of dying, rather than reducing it as most researchers believe. Now I'm writing about a report that says the same thing about a specific antioxidant, vitamin E.


Why are these pills being persecuted? Among the similarities of the earlier report and this one, authored by researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, is that the mainstream media accepted both without question. Both times the researchers smugly declared their work to be the final word on the subject, though both reports were, as the vitamin E one admitted, 'a qualitative departure from previous findings.'


Since a good scientist knows no single report ever proves anything, we know these weren't good scientists. In fact, they have less in common with Johns Hopkins than Matthew Hopkins - England's infamous 'Witch-finder General.'


Consider the vitamin E paper, published in The Annals of Internal Medicine (full citation at It analyzed 19 clinical trials between 1993 and 2004, involving 136,000 people in all. These were combined into what's called a 'meta-analysis,' which showed no overall increase in deaths. But at high levels, defined as above 400 international units (IUs) per day, the researchers insisted 'vitamin E supplements may increase (deaths) and should be avoided.'


A glaring problem with the report is that there have been far more than 19 vitamin E trials since 1993, and one way the pack was whittled down was by excluding all studies reporting fewer than 10 deaths. The witch-hunters weren't about to interrogate witnesses who might keep the accused from a visit to the gallows.


Also, if 'more is worse,' why did the two studies that used the highest dose, 2,000 IUs per day, indicate fewer deaths among vitamin E users? Another problem with declaring this report to be the final word on vitamin E is that while clinical trials are important, epidemiological studies cannot be ignored. Yet ignored they were.


Thus there was no reference to the 1996 one from the National Institute of Aging that followed 11,000 elderly persons for seven years and found that the death rate for vitamin E users was a third that of non-users. Adding another antioxidant, vitamin C, cut fatalities even more.


A 1993 Harvard study of 40,000 male health professionals found those who took at least 100 IUs daily for two years had a third fewer cases of heart disease than those receiving no vitamin E supplements.


A Harvard study of 87,000 nurses that year found an even greater reduction in heart disease when comparing women who took the highest amount of vitamin E vs. those taking the lowest amount. Does this have you running in terror at the sight of a vitamin E capsule?


But what's with the supplement witch-hunt? Why the reports of vitamin E flying on broomsticks, and beta carotene casting hexes?


"Unfortunately, there are some doctors who are biased against dietary supplements," says John Hathcock, vice president of Scientific & International Affairs at the D.C.-based Council for Responsible Nutrition. To an extent, this is understandable. For one, some supplements are worthless while a few have proved harmful. But you just can't lump 'eye of newt' in together with vitamin E or other antioxidants.


Mainstream medicine is also biased toward that which has formal FDA approval. You know, like Vioxx. And never mind the many supplements such as iron and iodine that have tacit FDA support but no formal approval.


Some doctors also fret that people will try to substitute supplements for good eating habits. 'We don't think that people need to take vitamin E supplements, that they get enough from the diet,' said the lead vitamin E prosecutor, associate professor Edgar Miller.


Yet the average American gets only about 10 IU daily. With some studies showing 2,000 IUs to be beneficial, dietary intake leaves us a bit shy of the mark. Anyway, those taking vitamins and other supplements also have the best diets.


The final explanation for vitamin-pill persecution is that medical journals are becoming increasingly sensationalist. Publishing articles contrary to popular wisdom is a cheap and easy way to get headlines.


But there's no excuse for throwing a noose around the neck of good science and healthful products.


[Reprinted with the kind permission of the author. Michael Fumento ( is a senior fellow at Hudson Institute, syndicated columnist with Scripps Howard News Service and author of BioEvolution: How Biotechnology is Changing our World.]


CHICKEN LITTLE was in the medical library one day when a journal fell on her head. She read it, and it scared her so much she trembled all over. Why? Because Chicken Little had read of negative studies on vitamins. She was so afraid that half her feathers fell out.

"Help! Help! Vitamins are killing us! I have to go tell the President!"

So she ran in great fright to tell the President. Along the way she met Henny Penny.

"Where are you going, Chicken Little?" said Henny Penny.

"Oh, help! Vitamins are killing us!" said Chicken Little.

"How do you know?" said Henny Penny.

"I read it with my own eyes," said Chicken Little, "And it was on the news, and part of it fell on my head!"

"Vitamins are killing us? This is terrible, just terrible!" said Henny Penny. "We'd better hurry up."

So they both ran away as fast as they could. Soon they met Ducky Lucky.

"Where are you going, Chicken Little and Henny Penny?"

"Vitamins are killing us! Vitamins are killing us!" said Chicken Little and Henny Penny. "We're going to tell the President!"

"How do you know vitamins are killing people?" said Ducky Lucky.

"I read it with my own eyes," said Chicken Little, "And heard it with my own ears on the news, and part of it fell on my head."

"Oh dear, oh dear!" Ducky Lucky. "We'd better run!"

So they all ran down the road as fast as they could. Soon they met Goosey Loosey walking down the roadside.

"Hello there. Where are you all going in such a hurry?"

"We're running for our lives!" said Chicken Little

"Vitamins are killing us!" said Henny Penny.

"And we're running to tell the President!" said Ducky Lucky.

How do you know that vitamins are killing people?" said Goosey Loosey.

"I read it with my own eyes," said Chicken Little, "And heard it with my own ears on the news, and part of it fell on my head!"

"Goodness!" said Goosey Loosey. "Then I'd better run with you."

And they all ran in great fright across a field. Before long they met Turkey Lurkey strutting back and forth..

"Hello there, Chicken Little, Henny Penny, Ducky Lucky, and Goosey Loosey. Where are you all going in such a hurry?"

"Help! Help!" said Chicken Little. "Vitamins are killing us!"

"We're running for our lives!" said Henny Penny.

"And by the way, the sky is falling!" added Ducky Lucky.

"So we're running to tell the President!" said Goosey Loosey.

"How do you know the sky is falling?" asked Turkey Lurkey.

"I read it with my own eyes," said Chicken Little, "And heard it on the news with my own ears, and part of it fell on my head!"

"Oh dear!" said Turkey Lurkey. "I always suspected those damned vitamins were dangerous! I'd better run with you."

So they ran with all their might, until they met Pharma Fred the Fox.

"Well, well, well," said Pharma Fred. Where are all of you rushing off to on such a fine day?"

"Help! Help!" cried Chicken Little, Henny Penny, Ducky Lucky, Goosey Loosey, and Turkey Lurkey all together. "It's not a fine day at all. Vitamins are killing us, the sky is falling, and we're running to tell the president!"

"But of course vitamins are killing you," said Pharma Fred the Fox. "Now all of you calm down. Here, have a Prozac."

Chicken Little, Henny Penny, Ducky Lucky, Goosey Loosey, and Turkey Lurkey each swallowed a few Prozacs, and some Valium for good measure.

"Well then," said Pharma Fred the Fox. "How did you learn of how dangerous those vitamins really are?"

"I read it with my own eyes," said Chicken Little, "And heard it on the news with my own ears, and part of it fell on my head!"

"I see," said Pharma Fred the Fox. "Well then, follow me, and I'll show you right to the President."

So Pharma Fred the Fox led Chicken Little, Henny Penny, Ducky Lucky, Goosey Loosey, and Turkey Lurkey across a field and through the woods. He led them straight to his den, and they never saw the President.

And Foxy Pharma Fred had most a delicious dinner.

Now look here, everyone:

The sky is not falling. Vitamins save lives. We are a nation of sick, under-nourished, and over-medicated people. Vitamins are not the problem; they are the solution.

REMEMBER: There is not even one death per year from vitamin supplements.

However, there are at least 100,000 deaths from pharmaceutical drugs each year in the USA, even when taken as prescribed. (Lucian Leape, Error in medicine. Journal of the American Medical Association, 1994, 272:23, p 1851. Also: Leape LL. Institute of Medicine medical error figures are not exaggerated. JAMA. 2000 Jul 5;284(1):95-7.)

All deaths caused by drugs and doctors may total as high as one million deaths per year.

Do not be buffaloed and do not be bullied. If someone tries to scare you from taking vitamins, ask to see the scientific papers that they base such a warning on. Assuming that the vitamin critic actually respects you enough to honor your request and produce such documents, here's how to spot bias in a scientific study:

IF YOU ARE ASKED FOR YOUR REASONS FOR TAKING VITAMINS, here are references that will support you:

Scroll further down this page for a lengthy list of physicians whose writings will back you up.


It is rare that a vitamin will negatively interact with a medication.

On the other hand, it is common for a medication to create an actual vitamin deficiency. To find out, check in the Physicians' Desk Reference (PDR), which is freely available at any library. Read up on your medication, paying special attention to any drug-nutrient interactions. Base you decision on facts, not a person's opinion or belief.







Here's what highly qualified and experienced medical doctors, that have used megavitamins for decades, have to say about the safety of vitamin megadoses:

Abram Hoffer, M.D., Ph.D.:

Ewan Cameron, M.D.:

Robert F. Cathcart, M.D.:

Emannuel Cheraskin, M.D., D.M.D.:

Frederick R. Klenner, M.D.:

William Kaufman, M.D.:

Thomas Levy, M.D.:

William J. McCormick, M.D.:

Hugh D. Riordan, M.D.:

Wilfrid Shute, M.D. and Evan Shute, M.D.:

Lendon Smith, M.D.:

Walt Stoll, M.D.:

Carl C. Pfeiffer, M.D., Ph.D.:

Hans A. Nieper, M.D.:

You will likely discover that very few vitamin naysayers "have the time" to discuss the work of the physicians listed above. That is precisely why you have the responsibility to read it. Be prepared.






"A lot of people go through life trying to prove that the things that are good for them are wrong." (Ward Cleaver, on "Leave it to Beaver")

In massive doses, vitamin C (ascorbic acid) stops a cold within hours, stops bronchitis in a day, and stops viral pneumonia (pain, fever, cough and the lot) in two days. It is a highly effective antihistamine, antiviral and antibiotic. It is an antitoxin and it reduces inflammation and lowers fever. Your doctor may not believe this, but it is not a matter of belief. It is a matter of experience. Once you see it happen repeatedly, you know it to be true.

Many people therefore wonder, in the face of statements like these, why the medical professions have not embraced vitamin C therapy with open and grateful arms. The reason is this: Many studies that claimed to "test" vitamin effectiveness were designed to disprove it.

You can set up any experiment to fail.

One way to ensure failure is to make a meaningless test. A meaningless test is assured if you make the choice to use inappropriate administration of insufficient quantities of the substance to be investigated.

If you shoot beans at a charging rhinoceros, you are not likely to influence the outcome. If I were to give every homeless person I met on the street 25 cents, I could easily prove that money will not help poverty. If a nutrition study uses less than 20,000 or 30,000 milligrams of vitamin C, it is unlikely to show any antihistamine, antibiotic and antiviral benefit whatsoever.

That is because you have to give enough to get the job done.

The public and their doctors look to scientific researchers to test and confirm the efficacy of any nutritional therapy. As long as such research as is done uses piddling little doses of vitamins, doses that are invariably too small to work, megavitamin therapy will be touted as "unproven."

"As evidence of the value of nutrients, especially vitamin C... becomes more and more evident to the public, researchers produce a mass of articles on minute aspects of vitamin C. I have been consulted by many researchers who proposed bold studies of the effects of massive doses of ascorbate. Every time the university center, the ethics committee, the pharmacy committee, etc. deny permission for the use of massive doses of ascorbate and render the study almost useless. Seasoned researchers depending upon government grants do not even try to study adequate doses. All of this results in a massive accumulation of knowledge about very little which gives the impression that there is no more of real importance to be learned. This accumulation of minutia hides the great effects of ascorbate already known by some... As you read these learned papers, you will realize that they seem to be completely unaware of the uses of massive doses of ascorbate. One of the most amusing aspects of this research are the speculations and research into the toxicity and other adverse reactions of tiny doses of ascorbate when many have used for years 20 to 100 times the amounts being discussed." (from "Delay by Intellectualization," by Robert Cathcart, M.D. Reprinted with permission.)

Probably the main roadblock to widespread examination and utilization of this all-too-simple technology is the equally widespread belief that there MUST be unknown dangers to tens of thousands of milligrams of ascorbic acid. Yet, since the time megascorbate therapy was introduced in the late 1940's by Fred R. Klenner, M.D. (links to his work are posted above), and right up to today as used by physicians such as Dr. Cathcart, there has been a surprisingly safe track record and an even more surprisingly effective track record to follow.

Several mistakenly-believed "side effects" of vitamin C have been found to be completely mythical. According to a NIH report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (April 21, 1999), NONE of the following problems are caused by taking "too much vitamin C":

Allegations of Hypoglycemia

Allegations of Rebound scurvy

Allegations of Infertility

Allegations of Destruction of vitamin B-12

Safety and effectiveness have always been and should always be the benchmark for any therapeutic program. When one considers that even the AMA admits to over 100,000 Americans dying annually from routine administration of prescription drugs, I think we need to consider anew the merits of truly large doses of vitamin C.



"There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all argument, and which cannot fail to keep man in everlasting ignorance. That principle is condemnation without investigation." (Herbert Spencer)

Copyright 2011, 2008, 2004 and prior years by Andrew W. Saul. Andrew Saul is the author of the books FIRE YOUR DOCTOR! How to be Independently Healthy (reader reviews at ) and DOCTOR YOURSELF: Natural Healing that Works. (reviewed at )


Andrew W. Saul


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