Are multivitamin supplements a waste of money . . . or not?

On December 16, 2013 the news media broke the news that three studies found that a daily multivitamin won’t help boost the average American’s health, and that the experts behind the research are urging people to abandon the use of the supplements.

To put things in perspective, in 2002 the Drs. Robert H. Fletcher and Kathleen M. Fairfield, two Harvard Medical School researchers, wrote new dietary supplement guidelines that appeared in the Journal of American Medical Association, (JAMA, June 19, 2002) recommending that all adults take a daily multivitamin. This was a reversal of the journal’s long-standing position that multivitamins were unnecessary because essential nutrients could be obtained in the diet.

Fletcher and Fairfield reviewed 150 scientific studies from 1966 to early 2002 and concluded that people who take vitamins can help protect themselves from chronic diseases. JAMA published this information: inadequate levels of antioxidant vitamins A, C and E may increase heart disease and cancer risk; low levels of folic acid and vitamins B 6 and B12 are risk factors for heart disease, neural tube defects and colon and breast cancer; and that inadequate vitamin D intake contributes to osteoporosis and bone fractures.

So, whom should you believe?

Here are the reasons why you should continue taking a multivitamin despite the glaring headlines that appeared this week.

  • Thanks to Mike Adams, the Health Ranger and editor of for pointing out that: these multivitamin studies are universally structured so that they are based on cheap, low-grade, synthetic vitamins and inorganic minerals. Not coincidentally, these brands of low-grade multivitamins are actually manufactured by companies owned by pharmaceutical interests. They really do have a financial incentive to make multivitamins look bad, and so their multivitamin formulations are intentionally designed to fail. The vitamin E studied in this science review, for example, was synthetic, and isolated vitamin E has a long history of being toxic for human consumption. Note carefully that these researchers never looked at full-spectrum vitamin E, including the tocopherols, nor did they bother to study a food concentrate form of vitamin E (because it would have been amazingly beneficial to heart health).
  • The study did not include anything about the day-to-day food intake of the participants. In one of the studies, researchers randomly assigned 1,700 heart attack survivors enrolled in a trial of therapy known as intravenous chelation to a daily regimen of high doses of vitamins and minerals or placebo pills. Participants were asked to take six large pills a day, and researchers think many developed pill fatigue (didn’t want to take the pills). Nearly half the participants in each part of the study stopped taking their medication before the end of the study. The average time people stuck with it was about two and a half years. After an average of 55 months, there was no significant difference between the two groups in a composite measure that counted the number of deaths, second heart attacks, strokes, episodes of serious chest pain and procedures to open blocked arteries. So how could the researchers say that taking multivitamins is a waste of money if the participants didn’t even take them? And we don’t know anything about the diets of these people. They might have been living on soda, ice cream, steak and fries.
  • Almost 80% of Americans do not receive the recommended five daily servings of fruits and vegetables that would provide sufficient amounts of key vitamins and minerals needed for a healthy diet. Multivitamins help, but they can’t replace a nutritious diet filled with fresh fruits, vegetables, and good quality protein and fats.
  • Supplements, can in many cases, help people for a number of reasons. Because most diets are not adequate to provide all necessary nutrients, multi-vitamins and minerals can help prevent vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Recent nutrition surveys in the US have found large numbers of people who consume too little calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, and, possibly, copper and manganese. Weight-loss, pure vegetarian and several other diets can also place some people at risk of deficiencies that vary with the type of diet they consume.
  • Certain groups of people are at especially high risk of dietary deficiencies. Studies have found that elderly people living in their own home often have dietary deficiencies of vitamins A and E, calcium, zinc, and sometimes of vitamins D, B1 and B2. Pre-menopausal women have been found often to consume low amounts of calcium, iron, vitamin A, and vitamin C. Multi-Vitamins can provide amounts of nutrients that are larger than the diet can provide
  • Occasionally there are individuals whose depression, anxiety, or memory problems are caused by a deficiency in some vitamin, mineral, or trace element — most commonly one of the B complex vitamins. Deficiencies of thiamine (vitamin B1), niacin, pyridoxine (B6), or cobalamin (B12) sometimes produce mental or emotional problems, including depression. Folic acid deficiency may cause problems with mood and mental function.
  • Our soil is depleted of minerals and other nutrients, thanks to over-harvesting and the use of pesticides and insecticides. Our food is not the food our ancestors thrived on. Most people rely on fast foods, and even if you are conscious of what you eat most of us are not getting adequate nutrition.
  • Taking a good quality multivitamin is an insurance policy to help support overall health, mood and energy. I would never take the risk of NOT taking one.




American Recall Center–Important Info

The American Recall Center provides drug and medical device recall information alongside practical healthcare information and support. The online site aims to build a comprehensive resource for helping consumers find accurate information about drugs and medical devices that have been recalled or labelled with warnings and contraindications.

The site’s blog also contains informative articles such as “Can Statins Cause Cataracts?” and “Preparing for and Recovering From a Knee Replacement: What you need to know.”

The Center is a welcome addition to the online medical community for patient safety alerts, recalls and general information. Find it at:

Healthy Holiday Sweets for People with Dementia and for Everyone Else

It seems that people with dementia, and the elderly population in general, really love ice cream and sweets. A healthy, vital human being has between 10,000 and 15,000 taste buds. But as we age we start to lose sensitivity to salty and bitter tastes. Simultaneously, the sense of smell begins to wane, impacting the sense of taste even more. Additionally, some medications have a tendency to deplete our sensitivity to certain tastes.

The sense of taste in people with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease is more dramatically affected by the progression of the disease. The taste of sweet is the first taste we are exposed to as infants, and the last one that we enjoy as we reach the end of life. So it makes sense that as people progress through the stages of Alzheimer’s disease they enjoy sweets more than other foods

The problem is sugar is not a healthy food. It wreaks havoc on the immune system and blood glucose levels. Here are two healthy alternatives to white sugar.

Stevia is a South American herb that is processed into a white powder or liquid. It has been used for more than 30 years in foods in Japan. Stevia contains no calories and no carbs and is 25 to 30 times sweeter than sugar. The best thing about stevia is that it is good for you, and is much healthier than artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharin and sucralose. Stevia does not contribute to tooth decay and helps control normal blood sugar levels, making it a safe, healthy sweetener for diabetics. The one downside of stevia is that it has a unique flavor that doesn’t appeal to everyone.

Stevia in available in most health food stores. You can also buy 12 different liquid stevia flavors (vanilla cream, English toffee, dark chocolate, root beer, etc.) from the Healthy Shopping Network,

In general, when substituting stevia for sugar, follow these guidelines:

1 Tsp Stevia (powered)=1 Cup Sugar
1 Tsp Stevia (liquid)=1 Cup Sugar
1/2 Tsp Stevia=1 Tbsp Sugar
6 Drops liquid Stevia=1 Tbsp Sugar
A pinch of Stevia=1 Tsp sugar
2 drops liquid stevia=1 Tsp sugar

Recipes using stevia

Banana Bread
Pre-heat oven to 325°
Oil and dust a bread pan with a bit of flour

3 bananas
1-¾ cups flour (substitute gluten-free flour or almond flour, if you like)
1/4 tsp powdered stevia extract
1/2 tsp stevia concentrate
1 tsp. baking soda
½ cup canola oil
1 egg
½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Puree bananas in a food processor. Add the dry ingredients, and then the egg and oil. Don’t over process! Blend until the mixture is moist and evenly blended. Mix in the walnuts. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Turn out the loaf and cool on a rack.

The following two recipes are from
Rita DePuydt”s Stevia: Naturally Sweet Recipes for Desserts, Drinks and More! Published by Book Publishing Company

Hot Cocoa
(4 to 5 servings)
3 tbsp cocoa
1/2 tsp powdered stevia extract
4 to 5 cups of soymilk, coconut milk or cow’s milk
2 tbsp honey or maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
Mix the cocoa and stevia extract together in a medium-sized saucepan. Add about 1/2 cup of the soymilk or milk to the dry ingredients to make a paste. Gradually thin the paste with about ½ cup of the milk. Add the hone or maple syrup while bringing to a low boil. Boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the rest of the milk to the desired richness. Add the vanilla and return to burner until heated through.

Coconut Fig Chews

1/2 cup chopped figs
1/2 cup unsweetened fruit juice or water
1 cup unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup unsweetened sesame seeds
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp powdered stevia extract
2 tablespoons cashew butter
1/3 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Oil a cookie sheet
Stew the chopped figs in the fruit juice or water for 8 to 10 minutes. Add the coconut to the pan, mix and set aside.
Grind the sesame seeds in a blender. In a mixing bowl, place the stewed figs and coconut, ground sesame seeds, salt, stevia extract, cashew butter, and flour. Mix well. Shape the cookies with your hands. Place on the cookie sheet and flatten slightly.
Bake for 12 to 14 minutes

Coconut sugar is another healthy sweetener that can be used as a sugar replacement in all baked goods. It doesn’t taste like coconut and isn’t quite as sweet as white sugar. Coconut sugar comes from the nectar of tropical coconut palm blossoms. The sweet sap from the blossoms is boiled until it thickens and caramelizes. It is then ground into very fine crystals that are called coconut sap sugar. Substitute the same amount of coconut sugar for white sugar in your recipes.

Coconut sugar has a low glycemic index of 35. The glycemic index provides a measure of how quickly blood sugar levels (i.e. levels of glucose in the blood) rise after eating a particular type of food. The higher the glycemic index the faster your blood sugar levels rise.
White sugar has a glycemic index of 60 to 65. Corn syrup has a glycemic index of 100 to 115. Brown sugar has a glycemic index of 70.

Coconut sugar contains 16 of the 20 amino acids, including glutamine, which helps reduce sugar cravings. Glutamine is also important for healthy brain function. Coconut sugar is also rich in minerals and contains the vitamin B complex.

Granulated coconut sugar is available at health food stores and online.
Makes sure to look on the level to make sure it is 100% coconut sap sugar.

Enjoy your holidays and enjoy sharing your sweets made with healthy sweeteners!

10 Stress-relieving Holiday Tips for Caregivers

  1. Drink a glass of water every other hour to keep hydrated. Staying hydrated helps support immunity, and reduces stress and irritability. It’s important to remember that your brain needs water, too. A dehydrated brain doesn’t think clearly, which can contribute to stress and anxiety.
  2. Include a protein with every snack. It’s difficult to stay away from sweets this time of year. But including a protein with every snack helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Try apple slices smeared with almond butter or topped with a cheese slice. A small handful of almonds or walnuts and a couple of dates satisfy the sweet tooth and provides vitamins, minerals and protein.
  3. Plug in an aromatherapy diffuser and inhale the relaxing scent of lavender, nernoli (orange blossom) or any scent you like.
  4. Pour some Epsom salt into a hot bath, light a candle, put on soothing music, and soak away your stress and anxiety.
  5. Turn off the TV, phone, iPad, computer, and other electronic devices an hour before bed. Instead, listen to relaxing music while sipping a cup of chamomile tea.
  6. Journaling is a wonderful, inexpensive way to release your concerns and worries on paper. It’s available when your therapist and best friend are not, and you can do it anywhere at your leisure.
  7. Move your body. Exercise is one of the very best stress relievers. You don’t have to buy a special outfit or go to a gym. Put on a pair of walking shoes and make a habit of walking 1/2 hour every day. If it’s too cold outside, put on your favorite dance music and move as though no one is watching.
  8. Fill half of you plate with green leafy vegetables. They contain magnesium, “the mood mineral,” which supports healthy blood sugar and blood pressure, decreases food cravings, and nourishes and calms the nervous system.
  9. Laugh to reduce anxiety and produce endorphins, the feel-good hormone. Look at funny family photos, reminisce with a high school friend, or watch a comedy. Whatever tickles your funny bone will definitely lift your spirits.
  10. Aim to be in bed before 10pm and make a habit of going to bed and rising at the same time every time. You’ll sleep better and have more energy and resilience.