Vitamins work, but sometimes not enough

I got to thinking about the role of vitamins in recovery early this morning (4 a.m.) when I suddenly woke up from a deep sleep. That’s funny, I thought. I haven’t even had a drop of alcohol, I went to yoga; so why am I waking up? Then blinding insight struck. Waking up must have been to bring my perspective to Marian’s and Duane’s recent exchange of comments on the chicken and egg subject “is it mental or is it physical?” Yes, that was it!

I probably have got some of their points wrong, so please read the comment string at the bottom of the post. Marian, Duane and I agree more than disagree about the importance of vitamins for good mental health. For Duane, recovery seems more about the vitamins correcting underlying health conditions that can lead to psychosis. For Marian, it’s more about healing the trauma that produced the symptoms. Marian feels more strongly than Duane that original trauma lies at the heart of an eventual schizophrenia diagnosis. Duane has experienced success when supplements were administered to his teenage son, so naturally, he sees the value of this strategy. Duane’s not alone, because there are thousands of people who have credited their recovery to orthomolecular therapy. I have seen instant turn-around in myself when I use vitamins for specific health problems.

Actress Margo Kidder, recovered from bipolar disorder, always says that the first thing you need to do is get a hair test. I took her advice for my youngest son, Taylor, who was beginning to worry me back in high school. This was after Chris got his “diagnosis.” Taylor’s rebound was phenomenal and you can read about it here.  I only wish I had known about hair tests and orthomolecular therapy before Chris fell into the mental health maze. Based on what I observed with Taylor, it is very possible that Chris would have recovered quickly if I had got to him around the age of sixteen when he first began showing symptoms. (Severe acne may be one of the symptoms, according to Dr. Hoffer, as sufferers from pellagra, a vitamin B deficiency, have the same skin problems.)

You don’t have to be as young as sixteen to experience turn-around on vitamins alone, but then there are the people, like Chris, and like many others, who have become psychotic, and that’s where I think it gets tricky. It is possible that once someone experiences psychosis, recovery on vitamins alone is more problematic, not because it can’t happen, but because it takes longer, or perhaps because the person begins to “enjoy” certain aspects of the psychosis and/or starts to question every aspect of existence. If you experience a spiritual awakening, also known as a kundalini crisis, once the djinii is out of the bottle, it gets harder to put it back in. The crisis begins to take on a life of its own. Kundalini crises don’t resolve overnight.

The problem is, and always will be, the meds. It becomes very hard to untangle what is actually going on once meds enter the picture. I have no doubt that many more people would recover quicker than they do if megavitamins and dietary changes were introduced at the outset instead of the meds. Many more people would also recover quicker if they encountered the right kind of therapy or found the right person who said the right thing at the right time.

That’s why I don’t play up the role of vitamins as much in my blog as much as some readers would wish. Much of the impetus for my blog comes from wanting to show people that the “harder” cases, the so-called chronic or “treatment resistant” cases are often the people where it just means you have to work harder to get at the roots of the problem. I have seen my son improve when vitamins were introduced on top of the meds, I’ve seen him do very well when he was off the meds and on vitamins alone, and I’ve seen him relapse after doing very well on vitamins alone. Some people have recovered never having been introduced to vitamins at all.

Where are the bodies?

Below is the information I was actually looking for when I posted a reply to a previous comment. Anytime an anti-vitamin bigot tries to tell you that vitamins are dangerous and unproven in high doses, refer them to Andrew Saul’s research that appears on the website. (Please don’t assume that all vitamins are safe at high doses. Always do your homework.) Andrew Saul poses the logical question, if vitamins are so dangerous, where are the bodies? While reading the answer below, compare the actual body count cited to Andrew Saul’s findings that:

“Harmful reactions to some of the most widely used medicines — from insulin to a common antibiotic — sent more than 700,000 Americans to emergency rooms each year, landmark government research shows.” (Associated Press, Oct 17, 2006)


by Andrew W. Saul

Over a twenty-five 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 25-year review of US poison control center annual reports (1) tells a remarkable and largely ignored story: vitamins are extraordinarily safe.

Annual deaths alleged from vitamins:

2007: zero
2006: one
2005: zero
2004: two
2003: two
2002: one
2001: zero
2000: zero
1999: zero
1998: zero
1997: zero
1996: zero
1995: zero
1994: zero
1993: one
1992: zero
1991: two
1990: one
1989: zero
1988: zero
1987: one
1986: zero
1985: zero
1984: zero
1983: zero

The zeros are not due to a lack of reporting. The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), which maintains the USA’s national database of information from 61 poison control centers, has noted that vitamins are among the 16 most reported substances. Even including intentional and accidental misuse, the number of alleged vitamin fatalities is strikingly low, averaging less than one death per year for more than two decades. In 17 of those 25 years, AAPCC reports that there was not one single death due to vitamins.

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.


Bronstein AC, Spyker DA, Cantilena LR Jr, Green JL, Rumack BH, Giffin SL. 2008 Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ National Poison Data System (NPDS): 26th Annual Report. Clinical Toxicology (2009). 47, 911-1084. The full text article is available for free download at . Vitamins statistics are found in Table 22B, journal pages 1052-3. Minerals, herbs, amino acids and other supplements are in the same table, pages 1047-8.

For Further Reading:

Download any Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers from 1983-2008 free of charge at

The “Vitamin” category is usually near the end of the report.

To subscribe to the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service at no charge:

Andrew Saul is the author of the books FIRE YOUR DOCTOR! How to be Independently Healthy (reader reviews at ) and DOCTOR YOURSELF: Natural Healing that Works. (reviewed at )