Readers’ CornerJanuary 11, 2011
This week, our readers comment on our stories about nutrition science integrity, herpes, and vitamin D.
Jim writes about the American Society for Nutrition’s attempt to monopolize the field:
You mentioned that ASN, which receives so much funding from junk food companies and Pharma, has belittled organic food. You might also be interested to know that the president of the American Society for Nutrition, Robert Russell, gave an interview to Science News (July 17, 2010, p. 32) in which he said, “Research has shown that in trials using fairly high doses of single antioxidants, or small combinations of them, that they don’t work…to modulate inflammation….In fact, they can become harmful pro-oxidants.”
This is typical of the skewed information coming from this source. The study usually cited alleging that antioxidant supplements become pro-oxidants and could contribute to cancer is a study that appeared in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in 2005 (vol. 97, pp. 481–488). Dr. Russell should have known that the author of the study, Isabelle Bairati, later re-analyzed the data and reported that the initial conclusion was wrong.
By the way, this was a study of smokers, and it turned out that the people thought to have been harmed by the antioxidants were actually smokers who refused to quit smoking. So much for trusting what the ASN says about supplements! I guess the supplement industry will have to give the ASN more money if it wants a favorable verdict.
This is just more proof that scientific integrity is essential when it comes to matters concerning our health.
After our article on herpes, Susan wrote:
I am surprised that you didn’t mention iodine. There is a clear form of iodine sold as Tri-Quench (Scientific Botanicals) which won’t show as much as some iodines, and it will stop an active herpes lesion dead in its tracks. Healing stops almost immediately and the episode is quickly over. Highly recommended. Your doctor, of course, won’t mention this because iodine has been around forever, can’t be patented, and therefore won’t interest conventional medical profiteers.
Thanks for pointing that out, Susan. By the way, scientists are currently investigating the possibility that some breast and stomach cancers may be linked to iodine deficiency.
Regarding our article on the IOM’s report on vitamin D, Tarri wrote:
Yes, I agree their report on vitamin D was incorrect, but also you and they left out the major differences between regular vitamin D and vitamin D3—the one that our body recognizes to give us our greatest benefits. Isn’t time to tell the public the difference?
While we specified vitamin D3 in our herpes article, we didn’t do so in the IOM article because the IOM’s report didn’t distinguish between its different forms. Thanks for the opportunity to clarify things.
There is actually no “regular vitamin D.” Vitamin D comes in two forms: D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). When vitamin D is referred to without a number, it can be D2, D3, or a combination.
Vitamin D2 is manufactured by plants or fungi. This is the kind usually added to fortified foods such as juices, milk or cereals. It is less potent than D3, partly because it has a shorter shelf life, so old D2 is much less effective. And it is broken down by the body into different substances, some of which may be harmful to the body, though scientists are not unanimous on that point.
Vitamin D3 is produced by the body through the exposure of the skin to UVA and UVB rays. Vitamin D3 can also be obtained by consuming animal products, and of course is found in supplements (which generally derive D3 from the lanolin in sheep’s wool). Vitamin D3 is broken down by the body into a substance called calcitrol, which has important cancer-fighting properties.
So when looking for a vitamin D supplement, always make sure it is vitamin D3 specifically.