Archives for : December 2013

     

USANA Vision Tour to Stop in North Carolina

vision tour

  The USANA Vision Tour will make a stop in Raleigh NC on Thursday, January 23 from 7-9:30PM at the Hyatt Place – Raleigh West.  This abbreviated session featuring 2-Star Diamond Director Tony Daum will begin with a Health & Freedom presentation, followed by an Associate Training event. Prospective associates / interested guests are welcome to attend the H&F presentation at no charge, and may attend the training session at a cost of $10.  Associates may preregister at the USANA website’s Event Registration page for $10.  Late registration at the door will be $20. Registration and check-in will begin at 6:30. If you are not a USANA Associate but are interested in attending, or if you are an Associate with questions about the event, please contact me using the Contact Us form below.

 

UPDATE 1/23/2014: Due to several associates reporting issues with online preregistration, the late registration fee will be waived, and Associate cost at the door will be $10.

         
     

Guest Opinion – Ditch Your Vitamins!?

I asked Winnie to let me write a post on the most recent volley in the ongoing vitamin war because it’s a hot topic that I know she’d want to address, but her passion for the subject of nutrition and supplementation might suggest bias.  Being a meat and potatoes guy who defines proper nutrition as having a meal that includes one green vegetable, I’m not as emotionally invested in the subject as she is.  For this and other reasons, the opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect, etc., etc.

The health and nutrition online community has been on fire this week over three studies and an editorial published in Annals of Internal Medicine, and the resulting opinion pieces popping up in mainstream media sources including NPR (The Case Against Multivitamins Grows Stronger), UPI, Forbes (Case Closed: Multivitamins Should Not Be Used), CNN, The Guardian (Vitamin Supplements are a Waste of Money, Say Scientists), and the International Business Times, among many, many, many others.   Basically, these hit pieces claim that people should stop taking supplements because these studies indicate that not only do they not prevent or cure chronic diseases, but they MIGHT. KILL. YOU!!!

As I said, I’m not deeply entrenched in the nutrition mindset, but even a cursory reading of these articles offended my intelligence, and suggests either an agenda or just plain sloppy science.  There seems to be, for the record, a lot of evidence for the agenda theory in the general disdain much of Western medicine exhibits toward preventive health in general, and nutritional supplements in particular.  As an old friend who worked in healthcare used to say, “There’s more money in treatment than in prevention.” Now, that isn’t to say that some nutritional products aren’t absolute garbage with no benefit to anyone but the manufacturer, and some are nothing but snake oil… but more about that later.

In the initial AIM editorial titled Enough Is Enough:  Stop Wasting Money On Vitamin And Mineral Supplements, the writers – five MDs – reach some pretty bizarre conclusions based on the findings, and overlook some glaring flaws which the studies specifically acknowledge.  The takeaway from the editorial, picked up and parroted uncritically by the mainstream media (I hate that term) seems to be that, since these studies don’t show definitive proof of benefit, you should stop taking vitamins IMMEDIATELY!  Seriously, that was one of the conclusions reached in the  AIM editorial:

“Evidence is sufficient to advise against routine supplementation, and we should translate null and negative findings into action.  The message is simple:  Most supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death, their use is not justified, and they should be avoided.  This message is especially true for the general population with no clear evidence of micronutrient deficiencies, who represent most supplement users in the United States and in other countries.”

It’s hard to know where to start with this.  The biggest issue I have with the entire editorial is the way they make categorical assertions based on tentative observations.  That irritates me.

First example, “evidence is sufficient…”   Not according to the studies they cite.  In the cardio study, the researchers warn that “There was considerable nonadherence and withdrawal, limiting the ability to draw firm conclusions (particularly about safety),” and conclude with “High-dose oral multivitamins and multiminerals did not statistically significantly reduce cardiovascular events in patients after MI who received standard medications. However, this conclusion is tempered by the nonadherence rate.”  An odd point for the reviewers to overlook.  (Additionally, the test subjects were… not representative of the general population.  Average age of 65 with at least one heart attack under their belts, most also suffered from hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, angina and / or congestive heart failure, and about half were already taking vitamins and / or prescription medications regularly – just sayin’)

“Most supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death.”  Ya think?  I’m not aware of any reputable supplements that make that promise.  Nutritional supplements are called that for a reason – they are intended to supplement one’s nutrition.  And it’s established fact that proper nutrition is one of several measures, including exercise, not smoking, limiting alcohol intake, and so on, used in conjunction to help prevent or mitigate the effects of chronic diseases.  As Cara Welch of NPA (Natural Products Association) put it in her response to this article, “The intention of supplements is to supplement the diet.  Don’t expect supplements to cure the common cold or prevent cancer, but they are part of the puzzle of a healthy lifestyle.”  I also have a minor quibble with the implication that, even if they don’t cure cancer, one should avoid supplements entirely.

“This message is especially true for the general population with no clear evidence of micronutrient deficiencies, who represent most supplement users in the United States and in other countries.”  Technically correct, as they say, is the best kind of correct.  However, there’s a little more to the picture than that.  One example:  According to the CDC, 37.7% of American adults consume less than one serving of fruits and vegetables per day.  The median consumption rate of all adults is 1.1 times per day for fruit and 1.6 times per day for vegetables. The numbers are slightly lower for adolescents.

This falls far short of the recommended 5-9 servings set out in the Food Guide Pyramid for optimal nutrition, so how might one <ahem> supplement this?

As to the categorical assertion that “Beta Carotene, vitamin E and possibly high doses of vitamin A supplements are harmful,” reputable sources tend to be a little less absolute in their language, generally suggesting that a substance may be harmful, or even toxic, under certain circumstances and / or in certain quantities.  (If I were feeling glib, I’d say that the same applies to water)  Take, for instance, the Mayo Clinic’s less alarmist interpretation of research on vitamin E, which states that, “Evidence suggests that regular use of high-dose vitamin E supplements may increase the risk of death from all causes by a small amount, although human research is conflicting. Caution is warranted.”    The National Institutes of Health is equally cautious regarding the possible adverse effects of Beta Carotene, although it does recommend not taking it long term in high doses.

Let me be clear:  as with most things, of course there’s a level at which therapeutic becomes toxic, and everyone should be mindful of the levels of anything they’re ingesting; I’m specifically addressing the absolute statements made in the AIM editorial.

One last thing that disappointed me was the implication in the studies (most studies I’ve seen, in fact) and articles is that a vitamin, is a vitamin, is a vitamin.  That’s known to be so obviously incorrect that I have a hard time believing that it wasn’t intentional.  Because of the lack of stringent regulation on nutritional products, quality, potency and content of multivitamins vary widely by manufacturer, and in some unfortunate cases, by batch.   Very few manufacturers adhere to standards beyond the FDA Good Manufacturing Practices for dietary supplements.   A common criticism of these studies is that they are often less than selective in the quality and type (EG – synthetic vs. natural, stand-alone vs. used in conjunction with others) of vitamins and minerals that they use, and then use them in a way that is inconsistent with standard practice.  If anything, the takeaway from this is to be selective about the supplements you take.

As I alluded to at the beginning of my magnum opus, I’m no expert in either nutrition or clinical research, but even I can spot a contrived conclusion.  As I also said earlier, there’s a perceived bias in Western medicine towards treatment over prevention.  Beginning in med school, practitioners are trained – and often incentivized – to take the pharma route in patient health, and many of these studies (often financed by Big Pharma) come to damning conclusions based on major flaws in methodology so articles like these tend to lack credibility in my eyes.

But as Dennis Miller used to say way back when he was still funny, “Of course, that’s just my opinion.  I could be wrong.”

         
     

Give the Gift of Health This Christmas

It’s getting cold outside, Christmas is almost here, and the New Year – along with the obligatory resolutions – isn’t far behind.  Shopping for loved ones, holiday eating (and penance), fighting the effects of the weather, cold and flu season, and self-improvement goals for 2014… there’s a lot to keep one’s mind occupied.

With time, as usual, at a premium, how about a suggestion for a little one-stop shopping?

You can give your loved ones, and yourself, some terrific Christmas gifts by shopping at USANA.

First suggestion – Winter weather takes its toll, sometimes painfully, on your skin.  I may walk out the door without my wallet, my phone, or my keys, but I never leave home without applying my Sense Night Renewal.  It’s a wonderful, paraben-free product with no added preservatives, which I credit with keeping my skin fresh, healthy and looking younger than it should!

Although the Night Renewal is my absolute favorite product for several reasons, I don’t want to slight some of the others.  In particular, the Daytime Protective Emulsion (SPF 15) is always useful, and many people I know who suffer from dry, cracked hands – especially during this time of year – find the Intensive Hand Therapy extremely helpful.

I love the holiday season!  The warmth and joy of parties and special times with friends and family, the decorations, the cards and good wishes from folks we don’t get to hear from as often as we’d like… and, of course, the FOOD!!!

Oh, the food…

For a lot of people, the Food Season begins at Thanksgiving – but for me, it starts about a month earlier.  In my immediate family, we have six birthdays between Halloween and November 9, so we try to have a big party for everyone and individual parties for the two granddaughters.  Then a big family dinner at Thanksgiving, then the traditional Christmas baking and candy making, then a Christmas brunch or dinner.  Needless to say, my New Year’s resolution is usually to lose some weight.

USANA has that covered, too.  USANA’s Reset kit is a healthy, effective way to lose weight.  The shakes (available in either soy or whey) and nutrition bars come in several flavors, and are low glycemic and made without gluten.  Both the shakes and bars can be purchased separately (they make great snacks!) or as part of the Reset program.  A word of caution, though:  carefully consider the stability of your relationship before purchasing ANY diet or weight loss products for loved ones.

And for USANA Associates and Preferred Customers, the 12-week RESET Challenge: DESTINATION TRANSFORMATION officially starts January 6.  Last year’s challenge had over 3000 participants who lost a cumulative total of over 17,500 pounds.  This event, which is open to Associates and Preferred Customers, offers some fantastic prizes for category winners and a Grand Prize trip to Sanoviv.

Finally – of course, this is also cold and flu season.  USANA also offers some terrific, pharmaceutical grade products to support immune health, including Vitamins C and D, in addition to the Essentials.

You can find any of these products, and many others, here

 

Wishing you all the good things that this season and 2014 can bring.