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The Annals of Internal Medicine today published an editorial titled "Enough Is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements". The editorial tells us that three separate research projects studied the effects of 'supplements' on different chronic illness, and found no significant disease benefit from 'supplements'.
What's right with this picture? Seriously? What healthiness was measured? The editorial says: "most supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death". The use of supplements is not justified because they cannot prevent death? So who can prevent death? Medicines can extend life, but they can't prevent death. And chronic disease? What medicine can prevent the chronic diseases that were tested? None. Should we "stop wasting our money on medicines"? Well, maybe we should.
The research studies, of course, selected 'specific supplements', and specific illnesses. They did not study 'all supplements' nor to 'all supplement combinations'. They didn't try to identify which supplement products work better than others. And most importantly, they didn't study health. But The Annals of Internal Medicine sees fit to extend their conclusions from "we could not find a supplement that works" to "all supplements" and from illness to health. It's as if three clinical studies found that three medicines could not prevent chronic disease and death - so we should give up on medicines?
Black is not white. Healthiness is not illness. Illness is the blackness in our lives. It is simple and bad. Healthiness is full of light, and colours, with beautiful hues, saturations, tones and harmonies of color. If we want to measure the effects of supplements on healthiness, we need to measure healthiness. And if we are to measure the effects of supplements on health - we need to select what we believe are the BEST POSSIBLE supplements you can buy and test those. Those are, after all, the most likely to provide benefit.
Imagine if you will, a scientific study of the effects of supplements on health. Here's how it would work:
1. Select a random group of people who are not sick. You could, if you wish, choose people of a selected gender and age group, but then the results would only be valid for that gender, for that age group. So, select a random group of people, of varying ages and genders, who are not sick, and who are currently not consuming supplements.
2. Measure the healthiness of the people selected. Measure their physical healthiness and their mental healthiness. Measure their spiritual healthiness and their community healthiness. Measure the healthiness of their circulatory systems, their respiratory systems, their hormonal systems. Measure the healthiness of their teeth, their blood and more.
3. Have them take one of the high quality supplement products for three months, at least. Six months preferred.
4. Measure their healthiness again at the end of the study.
But, there's a problem. We have many medical systems that can measure illness. But we have no standards for measurement of healthiness. We can measure blood pressure - for diagnosis of hypertension, but not blood health. We can measure cholesterol, for diagnosis of 'high cholesterol', but we can't measure cholesterol health - without reference to illness. We can measure tooth decay, but not tooth health. And we have virtually no useful techniques to measure spirit health, nor community health. Every so called 'health measurement' relies on measuring illness, not healthiness.
The hierarchy of healthicine stretches from genetics to nutrients, to cells, tissues, organs, systems, body, mind, spirit, and community, but if you have no illness - our medical systems diagnose "health" - and that's the end of it.
So, I have to laugh when the Annals of Internal Medicine say that supplements don't improve healthiness. Frankly their statements have no basis in scientific fact. Their conclusion states "With respect to multivitamins, the studies published in this issue and previous trials indicate no substantial health benefit." But the truth is - no study measured health, nor health benefit. Medical studies are designed to study illness and illness benefit. Extrapolation from studies of illness, to conclusions about healthiness is unscientific and irresponsible.