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The Case for Dietary Supplements - Nutrisearch:

Insufficient vitamin intake is apparently a cause of chronic diseases. Recent evidence has shown that suboptimal levels of vitamins (below standard), even well above those causing deficiency syndromes, are risk factors for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and osteoporosis. A large portion of the general population is apparently at increased risk for this reason.
-Dr Robert Fletcher, and Dr Kathleen Fairfield

The American Medical Association (AMA) now encourages all adults to supplement daily with a multiple vitamin. Based on a landmark review of 38 years of scientific evidence by Harvard researchers, Dr Robert Fletcher and Dr Kathleen Fairfield, the conservative Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has rewritten its policy guidelines regarding the use of vitamin supplements. In a striking departure from its previous anti-vitamin rhetoric, JAMA (June 19, 2002) now recommends that, given our nutrient-poor modern diet, supplementation each day with a multiple vitamin is a prudent preventive measure against chronic disease.1,2 The researchers point out that more than 80% of the American population does not consume anywhere near the five to eight servings of fruits and vegetables required each day for optimal health.

The JAMA declaration also highlights a growing concern among nutrition experts that the current recommended intakes for vitamins and minerals are too low. During World War II, the US military established the Recommended Dietary Allowances, also known as the RDAs, to prevent vitamin-deficiency disorders. In recent years, a growing volume of evidence supporting the need for higher levels of intake of many vitamins and minerals to maintain optimal health has prompted the United States and Canada to revise these recommendations; however, even the new Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIB) are based on minimal levels of nutrients, not the optimal levels needed to prevent degenerative diseases.

The importance of a well-balanced diet, high in fruits and vegetables, is as paramount as ever. Avoiding high-calorie, low-nutrition over-processed, fast foods takes considerable effort, given our busy modern lifestyle. Prudence dictates that we make conscientious choices to optimize our nutritional needs. In a perfect world, all the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and important plant based nutrients required to meet our daily needs would be provided in the food we eat. Today, it is necessary to fortify our diets with high-quality nutritional supplements to replenish our bodies with these missing nutrients.

Dr Robert Fletcher, co-author of the groundbreaking JAMA studies:
All of us grew up believing that if we ate a reasonable diet, that it would take care of our vitamin needs. But, the new evidence, much of it in the last couple of years, is that vitamins also prevent the usual diseases we deal with every day-heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, and birth defects.

The diseases Fletcher mentions are not illnesses that you "catch," as you would the flu or the common cold. These are diseases of lifestyle, the consequences of years of neglect and abuse to the nutritional needs of the human body. Their onset is slow, most often completely unnoticed; but once set into motion; these disease processes unleash a cascade of harmful events that result in degeneration of the tissues and organs of the body. For this reason, they are known collectively as degenerative disease.

Degenerative Disease

While science and technology have increased our lifespan dramatically over the past few centuries, they have failed to secure for us the holy grail of long-term health. If you are part of the baby boom generation or younger, chances are very good that you will make it to that cherished centennial milestone. Chances are also very good that you will live with some form of degenerative disease that promises to rob you of the pleasure of those golden years. Ironically, it seems we have slain the dragons of infectious disease only to find that our own lifestyle has now become our mortal enemy. The sad fact is, living longer allows our dietary and lifestyle choices to create the circumstances of today's most common causes of death.

Degenerative diseases include today's three major killers heart disease, cancer, and stroke. Arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, lupus, fibromyalgia, inflammatory bowel disorder, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases are but a few of the many other forms of chronic disorders that share a common cause. Their onset is slow; their progression a process of stealth. Our bodies give little indication that we are heading down a path that will lead to cancer, heart disease, or stroke. In fact, one third of initial heart attacks are fatal. The first warning of heart disease, for these people, is their only warning not much of a chance for lifestyle change.

Degenerative diseases are chronic diseases, for which there is no immediate recovery and rarely a complete cure. A degenerative disease is a life sentence, in most cases stealing years from its victims or sentencing them to a lifetime of needless suffering and pain.

In America today, over 14 million adults over the age of 65 are disabled from some form of chronic disease.3 In fact, 80% of American seniors today suffer from at least one chronic health condition and over 50% suffer from at least two chronic conditions that seriously impede their ability to function. North of the border, more than four out of five Canadian seniors living at home suffer from one or more of the same chronic health conditions that plague their American cousins. In 1987, almost 72 out of every 100 American citizens died from a chronic degenerative disease. By 2004, 89% of deaths were caused by chronic disease-an increase of over 17% in less than two decades. 4,5 Clearly, sinister forces are at work, a reflection of our dietary and lifestyle choices that are fast tracking us toward degenerative disease.
Nutrisearch’s "Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements" 4th Edition, by Lyle MacWilliam MSc, FP
1 Fairfield KM Fleetcher RH, Vitamins for chronic disease prevention in adults: scientific review, JAMA 2002 June 19: 287 (23):3116-26
2 Fleetcher RH Fairfield KM , Vitamins for chronic disease prevention in adults: scientific review, JAMA 2002 June 19: 287 (23):3127-9
3 Wan H Sengupta M Velkoff VA. DeBarros KA 65+ in the United States 2005, U.S. Census Bureau 2006, Available at: URL: www.census-gov. Accessed April 14, 2006.
4 Extracts of The Surgeon General's Report on Nutrition and Health. Washington, DC U.S. Department of health and human Services; 1988
5 WISQARS Internet program. WISQARS Leading Causes of Death Reports, 1999, 2004. Atlanta, GA: Office of Statistics and Programming National Center for Injury Prevention aand Control. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2004.

Preventing Degenerative Disease

Our Repair System
- Dr Ray Strand
Balance is the Goal - Dr Ray Strand
Additional links to articles for and against the case for supplements :

Dr. Elmer M. Cranton:

Usana Health Sciences: Why we need nutritional supplements

Here is one of the most extensive articles stating the case against supplements
This article is one of several rebuttals to the Wall Street Journal article (above link)