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BE YOUR OWN
HEALTH ADVOCATE

A US report was recently released (June, 2011) tracking deaths from vitamin supplements over the last 27 years. How many were there? Not one. Not a single one caused by, attributed to, associated with a vitamin supplement. On the other hand, deaths caused by medical intervention (i.e. drugs, operations, etc.) are now the 4th leading cause of death in the US.

"Before you buy a product you should consult your GP." The truth is, most general physicians know next to nothing about dietary supplementation and nutrition. And why should they? Anyone who trained more than 5 years ago got less than 12 hours of basic nutrition in medical school. Not to mention that most doctors are getting payment kickbacks and other incentives from pharmaceutical companies to prescribe their drugs. Obviously doctors are swayed to over-prescribe drugs, and big pharma has every incentive to make that happen since they profit billions. Should we just sit back and take these over-prescribed drugs to the detriment of our health while others make money off of us?

If the downside of drugs were accurately considered alongside the long-term benefit, the nutritional approach would definitely be seen as a more attractive option. Drugs have a part to play in healthcare, but they won't keep you healthy - primarily because one of their effects is to reduce the availability of the micronutrients your cells need. Details of these largely unknown interactions, are found in The 24-Hour Pharmacist by Suzy Cohen, R.Ph. Suzy's 20 years of pharmacology experience has helped her see first-hand how the commonly prescribed drugs we take rob our bodies of vital nutrients.

Suzy repeatedly refers to "drug muggers" throughout her book and warns her readers about the nutrient robbers such as oral contraceptives, painkillers, hormone replacement therapy drugs, statin cholesterol reducers and commonly prescribed blood pressure medications.

If you need to take medicine, combining it with the essential nutrient that it steals, can help minimize or eliminate unpleasant and uncomfortable side effects. Take antibiotics for example, they rob the gut of friendly bacteria which can lead to side effects such as diarrhea, cramps, indigestion, bloating and, ironically, infections. To protect yourself, it is wise to also take probiotics both during and after the course of therapy.

Statins are another case in point. Although these drugs do their job by blocking a cholesterol-producing enzyme, that enzyme is also necessary for the production of CoQ10, a nutrient involved in all aspects of energy production and a powerful antioxidant. So, taking a statin may lower your cholesterol, but this has a knock-on effect on other key functions. CoQ10 is vital to heart health, and deficiency has been associated with fatigue, muscle weakness and heart failure.

An estimated 15 million American adults are afflicted with major depression and it's the leading cause of disability in the United States for people aged 15-44.[i] Even more appalling is that fact that 1,200 drugs can actually cause or worsen depression. Even with the FDA requirements for warnings on antidepressants, people are unaware that many common "downer" drugs (Accutane, acid blockers, Ambien, birth-control pills, HRT drugs, etc.) can worsen their depression symptoms. Suzy recommends nutritional supplements along with "good mood foods" such as whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and to cut back on sugar, refined carbs, alcohol, caffeine and processed foods.

Clearly we need to be looking closely at the effects our medications may be having on our bodies and be our own health advocates. Can we really justify pill-popping on a regular basis when there is so much compelling evidence from natural approaches which can have as good, if not better, results without unwanted side-effects? Building one's immunity and maintaining optimum health is always the key to staying healthy and free from disease.

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Written by: Therese Patterson


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