On June 8th, this article appeared in the New York Times, spoiling an otherwise beautiful morning: For some reason, the Times gave Paul Offit, an infectious disease doctor from Philadelphia, free reign to plug his just-published book: The article (written by Offit himself) painted a pretty bleak picture of the supplement industry, and I’ll wager that the book does the same. Many patients asked me about the article– and in particular, wanted to know whether they should stop taking their supplements. So, I decided it was worth writing to a rebuttal to at least the Times’ article, if not the entire book. Dr. Offit isn’t entirely wrong– there are some unscrupulous players in the supplement industry. But does anyone out there really think that Big Pharma exists simply for the betterment of humankind? Or that the FDA is infallible? Anyone remember Bextra? In the past two months during shifts in the E.R. I have seen two people bleed to death after starting the new drug Pradaxa; it’s pretty clear that someone dropped the ball when that was approved. (Dear lawyers for Boehringer-Ingelheim: no, I cannot prove that Pradaxa killed them.)
In the U.S. about 165,000,000 people (half our population!) take supplements, yet the number of deaths attributed to supplements in 2010 was… wait for it… zero. By comparison, every 19 minutes someone dies from an accidental overdose of prescription medications. In total, prescription drugs are thought to cause about 125,000 U.S. deaths a year. On top of which, when I did a web search on Paul Offit, I learned that he is a long, long way from unbiased, as he has gotten tens of millions of dollars from his partnership with Merck Pharmaceuticals.
So, that gives a little perspective. Having said that, it is certainly true that most people taking supplements have no idea what the data actually shows about the pills they are popping. Heck, most doctors don’t know either, so at least we are all in the same boat. In an effort to steady that boat, a few weeks ago I gave a lecture to a group of doctors. I went over the Offit article, and what the papers he refers to really say about multivitamins. Then I went on to cover some other topics:
(If that embed link doesn't work in your browser, click here for another version)
- The first 25mins is about multivitamins.
- Minutes 26-40 are about curcumin, with an update on the prior post I wrote about Longvida
- and from minute 41 onward I talk about Vitamin D, and why I don’t like to see blood levels above 40.
The webinar is aimed at doctors, so there is a little bit of med-speak to wade through, but I think it’s pretty understandable even for those not in the medical field. However, if you prefer something a bit lighter/ geared toward laypeople, I also did a radio show on much the same material:
Part 1: What you need to know about Multivitamins
Part 2: Vitamin D— where should your levels be?
Part 3: The lowdown on Curcumin
If you prefer to have more control over fast-forwarding the mp3, click here. The entire radio show can be found at this link: http://kinetichifi.com/listen/archive/?show=ecohealth&title=EcoHealth Radio 7-29-13 Dr Josh Trutt – Multivitamins – Vit D – More .mp3
The entire radio show can be found at this link: http://kinetichifi.com/listen/archive/?show=ecohealth&title=EcoHealth Radio 7-29-13 Dr Josh Trutt – Multivitamins – Vit D – More .mp3