B3 or no B3, that is the question

In response to Gianna Kali’s post today, here’s my two cents worth on the subject of vitamin supplements. I agree and I don’t agree, and I think we both can agree that it depends on the situation.

Being a skeptic myself, I leave a large space in my head for the thought that pharmaceutical companies, who have enormous amounts of money to spend on “information dissemination” or “disinformation,” are understandably concerned that the public is turning more and more to vitamins instead of going to their doctors and asking for prescriptions. Doctors should also be concerned about this. It is in pharma’s best interest to trash the benefits of unpatentable vitamins. A study here, a study there that claim that vitamins do not hold up to scientific “rigor”.

That being said, vitamin supplements are big business, too. I have written about this elsewhere in my blog where I refer to it as the tyranny of vitamins. At one point Chris was on thirty-five different supplements per day, a very restricted diet, and he still landed back in the hospital. (Demonstrating to me that the mind, once again, is superior to matter. All the vitamins or medications in the world won’t work if the mind is in shut down mode.) Thirty-five vitamin supplements per day is unsustainable.

I agree with Gianna that the body may need vitamins from time to time that it may not need long term, and that a healthy diet is of course, what we all should be ingesting, and I also believe that there are certain conditions that need heavy artillery to be brought in. Readers of this blog already know that I consider B3/niacin and vitamin C essential. For vitamin E, I’ll use my own father as an example. The other day I came across a book on vitamin E by Wilfred and Evan Shute that he had taken the time many years ago to put in its own dust jacket. That’s how important the advice in that book was to him. He had been a heavy smoker for years and finally was had a by-pass operated for a blockage in his leg. The circulation in that leg plagued him the rest of his life, making walking difficult for him. My mother found out about the results that the Shute brothers clinic in London, Ont. was having with vitamin E and they paid a visit. He was on 800 IU of vitamin E for the next thirty years of his life. He was ecstatic about the general feeling of well-being and energy that Vitamin E gave him. The damage had been done on the leg, walking on it would be always be difficult, but the vitamin E really boosted him enormously. I experience the same energy boost from vitamin E and have made it one of my basic vitamins.

So, in this case, I do take issue with the Healthy Skeptic (not surprisingly, a doctor), who quotes this study by the NIH which raises this rather strange allegation:

High-dose vitamin E supplementation increased the risk of death from all causes.

Andrew Saul, creator of  http://www.doctoryourself.com/, has an answer to the charges that vitamins in high doses cause death. “Where are the bodies?” Please take a look at this page. It’s an eye-opener.

Over a twenty-seven year period, vitamins have been connected with the deaths of a total of eleven people in the entire United States. Poison control statistics confirm that more Americans die each year from eating soap than from taking vitamins.

Where are the bodies?

A 27-year review of US poison control center annual reports (1) tells a remarkable and largely ignored story: vitamins are extraordinarily safe.

These statistics specifically include vitamin A, niacin (B-3), pyridoxine (B-6), other B-complex, C, D, E, “other” vitamin(s), such as vitamin K, and multiple vitamins without iron. Minerals, which are chemically and nutritionally different from vitamins, have an excellent safety record as well, but not quite as good as vitamins. On the average, one or two fatalities per year are typically attributed to iron poisoning from gross overdosing on supplemental iron. Deaths attributed to other supplemental minerals are very rare. Even iron, although not as safe as vitamins, accounts for fewer deaths than do laundry and dishwashing detergents.

Our only defense is to know what works for us, to be skeptical of competing claims, and of course to eat foods as close to their natural source as possible.

11 thoughts on “B3 or no B3, that is the question”

  1. Chris Kresser is not an MD…his degree is in Chinese Medicine and he is a completely different and lovely animal from mainstream docs as well as most alt docs who are generally quite annoying to me as well.

    I know the guy a bit…he’s wonderful.

    Niacin, by the way, as I told you threw me back into benzo withdrawal and anyone with a history of benzo use should be very careful with it…I’ve since found others who had similar negative reactions to it. It uses the GABA receptors in a very similar way that benzos use it…that would be the flush free niacinimide as well.

  2. in other words Chris doesn’t have prescribing rights…also if you read his blog enough one of his favorite things to do is look at studies done by people like the NIH and reinterpret them thus tearing the NIH to shreds…

    he’s not on the side of pharma or traditional medicine at all and by saying he’s a doctor it seems you are trying to suggest that…

    he’s also extremely pragmatic thus will use supplements when practical…

    you started by saying that is depends on the situation whether supps are appropriate or not and all parties mentioned here would agree with that.

  3. Gianna,
    Thanks for the correction. I googled Chris Kresser and turned up a reference to a Dr. Chris Kresser – most likely a different person, a mistake or perhaps referring to a PhD? When I recommended Niacin it is in the context of treatment for schizophrenia. You are right to point out the complications that occur re benzo withdrawal.

  4. Rossa,

    The work of Abram Hoffer, M.D., Ph.D. took place with 5,000 patients over the course of 60 years.

    The recovery rate for people diagnosed with “schizophrenia” was 90 percent. His work is documented in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, and was freely-given to the Canadian government before his death.

    Recovery, according to Dr. Hoffer was going to work, paying taxes. What a concept, huh?!

    His research and success has not been matched. His final interview from the Townsend Letter –


    For more, your readers can go to –

    (type in the keyword ‘Hoffer’)

    Food for the Brain has some good information –


    35 vitamins a day?
    I heard Suzanne Somers on a radio show not long ago. If memory serves me right, she takes over 60 vitamins per day… She ran a cancer diagnosis outta town, and IMO, she looks pretty good for a woman of 65. On her blog, she discusses natural approaches –


    Vitamins, or not vitamins?…
    I like the Orthomolecular Approach.
    It’s worked well for our family.

    Then again, the recovery rate for “psychosis” is 85 percent via the ‘Open Dialogue’ approach in Lapland, Finland –

    I say, whatever works, works.

    I say, maybe we outta combine both approaches, and get rid of “schizophrenia” (I hate that word!) once and for all!

    Duane Sherry, M.S.

  5. Rossa,

    A psychiatrist put an post up today about alcholism, 12-step program, etc.

    What has this got to do with B-3, Niacin?

    Abram Hoffer, M.D., Ph.D. worked closely with one of the co-founders of AA, Bill Wilson. In fact, Bill Wilson was later inducted into the Orthomolecular Hall of Fame –

    (2006 Inductee)

    Bill Wilson used to drive around with pamphlets, telling people of the benefits of Niacin for alcholism. A video of Dr. Hoffer discussing, AA, Bill Wilson, and Niacin (B-3) therapy for alcoholism –

    AA was as much a nutritional approach as a spiritual one in its inception.

    I think the tenets of AA are good… the spiritual part, however the recovery rate is said to be about only about 5 percent. For anyone who is searching for alternatives to AA –

    On a personal note, as a fellow-parent, our son finished his first year of college today (last examination for the year).

    He’s come a long way… Symptom-free and doing great for the past five years –


    Diane Sawyer’s news team contacted us last week, to see if we would like to tell the story on television. He declined. I don’t blame him.

    He’s moved on.
    In spite of psychiatry.
    In fact, because we made the decision to avoid psychiatry – like the plague!

    Life is short.
    Choose life!

    Duane Sherry, M.S.

  6. Duane – First of all, congratulations to your son are in order. This is good news. And thanks for the information about Dr. Hoffer, Bill Wilson and AA. On this blog I also link to Bill Wilson’s bio, Pass It On: The Story of AA. It’s one of the most interesting bios I have ever read. But, it’s true, apparently only 5% actually recover. I’ll check out the link you provided for an alternative to AA. I also provide a link to the book The Alcoholism and Addiction Cure, by Chris Prentiss, because I think he raises very good points about why AA is not successful for a lot of people. Oh, and by the way, thanks for providing the orthomolecular link that inspired my post today on David Horrobin from the Orthomolecular Hall of Fame.

  7. Rossa,

    I like the Orthomolecular approach, because I don’t like the dangers of prescription drugs.

    I thought you might enjoy this –

    “Doctors are men who prescribe medicines of which they know little, to cure diseases of which they know less, in human beings of whom they know nothing.” Voltaire

  8. Rossa,

    I thought this was comment was telling…
    It speaks to the state of conventional psychiatry, from one who is on the inside –

    “In my own experience, it’s distressing to have witnessed over the last 20 years what began as an exciting era of neurobiological clinical research with the advent of the “decade of the brain” in the 90s, but then regressing to the dismal state of affairs currently…what I believe will ultimately be regarded as our greatest betrayal to the public trust as a profession; ie, the massive exploitation of millions by an enterprising pseudoscientific industry under the guise of progressive mental health care. And certainly the unholy alliance between big pharma and academic psychiatry facilitated its creation. When all the numbers are tallied in direct and indirect costs of this colossal wasteland, we may not survive, and perhaps we shouldn’t. It’s particularly saddening that the very same practices are being applied to our children, who unfortunately are not in a position to give informed consent, and are truly victims of a very impaired system.” – Psychiatrist, Scott Zenter, M.D.

    …. My thoughts on the matter –

    Psychiatry will collapse.
    And I believe it will be sooner, rather than later…
    A myth cannot live forever!

    Duane Sherry, M.S.

  9. “Doctors are men who prescribe medicines of which they know little, to cure diseases of which they know less, in human beings of whom they know nothing.” Voltaire

    Was it Voltaire who said:
    Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. The more things change, the more they stay the same?

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