The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on January 5, 1986 · Page 17
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 17

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Sunday, January 5, 1986
Page 17
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Living Today The Salina Journal Sunday, January 5,1986 Page 17 Vim, Vigor and Vitamins G, Teorge Jetson, that space-age character of cartoon fame, often could be seen on Saturday morning television gulping a super vitamin pill. That's all Jetson needed to stay healthy in his futuristic lifestyle. Food was unnecessary. In the mid-1980s, however, Americans know Jetson's super pill doesn't exist. Traditionally trained nutritionists and medical doctors say vitamin supplements are not the magic bullet to curing or preventing modern disease. Others, however, believe the only answer to good nutrition includes vitamin supplements. In fact, 98 million consumers, worried their diets are in some way deficient, swallow extra vitamins — in capsules or tablets — as part of their everyday routine. They aim to bolster their food intake by ensuring themselves of ingesting the Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA) for vitamins, as set by the Federal Drug Administration. Vitamins are natural organic substances in food that are essential to the body's metabolic processes. Some Americans think large amounts, referred to as megadoses, will ward off the common cold, alleviate stress and prevent or cure a myriad of other ailments. Undaunted by the confusion, some consumers, influenced by today's self-help health movement, doggedly prescribe their own nutritional programs. 'Our food is anemic' JL he average American is not necessarily a healthy one. So says Salina chiropractor Dr. Douglas E. Kempton who emphasizes nutrition at his health center. Kempton says average people who call themselves healthy often have headaches and back problems as well as trouble with sleeping and waking refreshed. Nutritional therapy can solve many of those problems, most of which are caused by stress, diet and working habits, he says. Kempton offers testing for nutritional deficiencies, then prescribes a program for his patients based on Kempton those results. The testing consists of hair analysis, blood analysis and urinalysis. A detailed lifestyle questionnaire accompanies these. Kempton says treatment often involves vitamin megadosing, or taking amounts high above the Recommended Daily Allowances, which he believes are "way too low." His interest in nutrition began with his father, a chiropractor in Pratt who also offers nutritional therapy. The younger Kempton focused on it in his postgraduate work. American health professionals are "on the threshold of nutritional discovery," he said. Interest in nutrition has mushroomed in the last 10 years, says Kempton, and patients are creating a demand for doctors knowledgeable in that area. Our food is anemic, he says, because the food industry removes nutrients for preservation and shipping purposes and consumers burn them out through cooking processes. "All of these factors rob our bodies," he said. Kempton believes people don't drink enough water to flush their systems. ' "That's what vitamins do, rebuild and clean out the system." For the average person, a multivitamih is enough, Kempton says. He is cautious about brands, and says he sells specific ones not available to the general public and recommends others. Kempton does periodic blood work on himself and relies on nutrition to keep himself in shape. He refers to his personal medicine cabinet as his "vitamin cabinet," and takes "fairly large doses" of three to nine pills per day, more if he is sick. And he takes lots of vitamin C to ward off colds. "I've yet to have a cold last longer than three days in my eight years of practice," he said. Children, too, can benefit from vitamin supplements, says Kempton. He gives his children multivitamins, extra vitamin C for colds and a healthy supply of water. But he says vitamin supplements are not a cure-all. '. "If health came in bottles, we'd be out of bottles." ; A healthy person must also eat right, exercise and learn to cope with outside influences, says Kempton. And if a person wants to avoid nutritional supplements entirely, he recommends plenty of water and raw fruits and vegetables. "And don't center meals around meat and potatoes." However, Robert M. Tombaugh, an environmental chemist in Salina, cites a government report that says 80 percent of Americans do not eat properly. Tombaugh, whose avocation is nutrition and health chemistry, believes food alone (See Vitamins, Page 18) One of these is Jess Hughes of rural Salina. He says he doesn't rely 100 percent on vitamin supplements, however. He knows diet is important too. He has started each morning for the past seven years with oatmeal and black strap molasses, adding wheat bran for extra fiber. Then he mixes a concoction of brewer's yeast, calcium, sweetener and warm water. With this drink, Hughes downs a vitamin C pill, a vitamin E pill, and zinc and copper tablets, plus one spoonful of cod liver oil for vitamins A and D. "You get used to the taste," he said of his brew. "It's not good, but it's nutritious." Many vitamins and minerals are removed from food through processing, Hughes believes, thus creating a need for supplements. According to him, vitamin E boosts his energy level and aids "several other body functions." Vitamin C is good for fighting colds. The B vitamins are anti-stress and "a must." Hughes says he gets these from the brewer's yeast. Once a heavy drinker and smoker, Hughes, 40, says he felt poorly most of the time and finally tired of that lifestyle. He began to read about nutrition and good health. "I'd say 75 percent of my knowledge comes from Prevention magazine." Hughes says his efforts are not extreme, and he does no megadosing. "And I've never felt better," he says. His wife and two children, 17 and 12, also follow nutrition programs Hughes has set up Modern society's latest health trend is nutrition. Americans are obsessed with it. Annually, they are spending megabucks on vitamin pills, even to the point of megadosing, in their relentess search for better health and longer life. Consumer demand has spawned megatons of written information on the subject, but opinions on the validity of the pills are as varied as the brands of vitamin bottles lining pharmacy shelves. Even the authorities disagree. Some posh supplements as preventive medicine; others advocate an adequate diet. All the confusion leaves the public wondering if a bottle of multivitamins has any more value than a bowl of alphabet soup. for them. But there is more to their good health than vitamin supplements. The family raises rabbits and chickens, eats an abundance of freshwater fish and grows a big garden (free of pesticides and chemicals). "We don't eat a lot of pork and beef," Hughes said. A stove with an indoor grill eliminates fried foods from their diets. Hughes, a heavy equipment operator who works from a sitting position, says he doesn't subscribe to the exercise theory to maintain proper weight. "Diet, that's 75 percent of it. That's what works for me." And he claims it pays off for his family. "We have few doctor bills and a much healthier family than the majority of people." With the Hugheses' careful eating habits, their use of additional vitamins might be viewed as a waste of money. "I could probably eliminate some of my vitamins," Hughes said, " but they're not hurting me. And it doesn't cost that much; I shop wisely." Vitamin supplements have become so popular, the consumer can find them on convenience store shelves as well as those of the local pharmacy or health food store. Charles Monroe, owner of Vita-Villa Ltd., a Salina store that specializes in natural foods, vitamins and health care products, says some of his customers are referred by medical doctors and chiropractors, many of whom are "pretty nutritionally oriented these days." In Monroe's opinion, the daily requirements set by the government are low. Multivitamins are most effective, he says, and megadoses are unnecessary. Stories by Sherida Warner Photo illustration by Fritz Mendell Monroe is quick to note the controversy surrounding vitamin supplements. He says he doesn't give consumers advice, but leads them to literature and allows them to make up their own minds. Another local health food store owner, Bernice Porter, says her customers at Nature's Place usually know what they need from a doctor or through reading. Porter began taking vitamin supplements in 1969. She determined her specific needs by "listening" to her body and through reading materials. She says she takes multivitamins with additional doses of C and E. "The body does not store vitamin C and E which are very healing to the body. I seldom ever have a cold, and I used to have colds. I just feel better... have more energy." Without a doubt, the self-help health movement has become big business across the nation. For instance, a new vitamin-enriched soft drink, Diet Squirt Plus, debuted in Michigan in November. The soft drink contains water- soluble vitamins C and B complex. If Diet Squirt Plus catches on with nutrition-obsessed consumers, it could point the way for producers of other foods not normally associated with the health trend. Jetson's super pill may be a few light years away, but soft drinks and perhaps snack foods pumped full of vitamins are a space- age idea likely to become part of the '80s. 'Good diet enough' /\ well-balanced diet, including foods from the four basic food groups, negates the need for vitamin pills. That's the contention of Dr. William R. Alsop, a gastroenterologist at Salina"s Mowery Clinic. Vitamin supplements are overdone in this country, he says, largely a result of intense marketing by pharmaceutical companies. He fears many people are being misled by television and other Alsop commercial hype. ' 'It gives the impression that the average healthy person eating three balanced meals a day still needs a supplement. But that's not the case." Alsop says he has seen no scientific data to suggest depleted soils, pollutants and food processing destroy the essential nutrients. "Those people saying that have something to sell." "I'm not trying to be hard-line or dogmatic ; I'm willing to read scientific fact and change my mind if necessary. But most nutritional information—I won't call it literature because that glorifies it—is pure allegation circulated by various organizations." People searching for the easy road to health and happiness fall prey to this type of material, Alsop says. "I personally don't use any vitamins; they make no difference to my health. I just don't believe it (vitamin therapy) works." Alsop says he fields many questions about vitamins from his patients. He realizes it's an attitudinal issue as supplements are associated with increased energy, strength and positive feelings. He never recommends vitamin supplements; however, Alsop says he does not object to a patient taking a multivitamin (with amounts within the Recommended Daily Allowances). ' "The RDAs are probably higher than what is actually needed for bodily processes," he says. Though he says no good evidence substantiates vitamin C's stardom in cold prevention, Alsop sees no harm in patients taking one or two 500-milligram tablets per day, in addition to a multivitamin. ' 'I have no objection if their health is OK otherwise." But he discourages megadosing on any vitamin. He explains megadosing as taking five or 10 grams more than the RDA. Some vitamins are more toxic than others, he explains. Definite ill effects have been associated with megadose therapy, according to Alsop. For instance, excessive doses of vitamin C can cause kidney stones, he says. The dangers of vitamin C megadosing also worry Janet George, a registered dietitian who teaches nutrition to nursing students at Marymount College. ' "The body can build up a resistance to vitamin C, and if it stops receiving high doses, a person can develop scurvy," she says. Vitamin C is a mild antihistamine, says George, and a person would be better off "taking a cold tablet." People have gone wild with supplements which she likens to chili powder:' 'Too much ruins the pot of chili.'' Like Alsop, George recommends including foods from the four basic food groups with fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and variety. If a person can't feel good about their eating habits, she says a multivitamin would be OK—providing the pill is within (See Diet, Page 18)

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