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Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, December 23, 2013

Are There No Hospitals? Are There No Nursing Homes?

by Andrew W. Saul, Editor

(OMNS Dec 23, 2013) Might be fun, but I have never shopped at Neiman Marcus, Hammacher Schlemmer or Saks Fifth Avenue. Years ago, as a Big Apple tourist, I did have a long look in the window of the Waldorf Astoria restaurant and read the lunch menu. A small green side salad cost more than I would have wanted to spend for an entire dinner anywhere else. When luxuries are predictably expensive, we can scoff, wish, or drool.

But what really grabbed my ever-miserly attention was a recent visit to a supermarket. Not an upscale munchie boutique, just a run-of-the-mill chain store in a working-class community. Over to the produce department, and there they were: Oranges, one dollar. Each. Grapefruits were even more.

Later, I was at a well-known big-box department store. Ascorbic acid vitamin C, 500 mg, was under ten bucks for 500 tablets. That's two cents a tablet, four cents per 1,000 mg.

One store-bought medium-sized orange might contain 60 milligrams of vitamin C ( ). I think that figure would be substantially lower for most tired-looking, out-of-state oranges you are likely to purchase mid-winter. Even if we allow a generous 62 mg, it takes eight oranges to equal the ascorbic acid in one single 500 mg tablet. Eight oranges can cost eight bucks. The vitamin C tablet can cost two cents. That means, milligram for milligram, vitamin C from tablets is four hundred times cheaper than vitamin C from oranges. Even if those oranges were an incredible 75%-off special, they'd still cost 100 times more than the supplement.

I am fully aware that there are many side benefits of eating oranges. Among other things, oranges contain bioflavonoids, fiber, and are delicious. But their price remains an obstacle.

A few daily oranges are Waldorf salads seen through the window; virtually unaffordable luxury for millions of people. On the other hand, anyone, and I mean anyone, can find $7.30 per year for a vitamin C tablet each day.

Many people eat really lousy, utterly unbalanced diets. Some do so by choice, some by circumstances. If you have money, you can still eat wrong. Look around and see. But if you are truly poor, you cannot afford the quantity and variety of fresh produce needed to eat right.

It is far cheaper to get vitamins and other micronutrients from supplementation than it is to get those nutrients from foods. I wish that were not the case, but it is. That is why the multivitamin is the biggest health bargain on the planet.

This especially matters to the poor.

With apologies to Charles Dickens, and with a deep bow to Forbes (1), NBC (2), CBS (3), Annals of Internal Medicine (4), The New York Times (5), The Week (6) and other pharmaphilic (drug-loving) media, I offer holiday greetings, below:

"At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge," said the gentleman, "it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Hundreds of thousands are in want of adequate nutrition, sir."

"Are there no hospitals?" asked Scrooge.

"Plenty of hospitals," said the gentleman.

"And the nursing homes," demanded Scrooge. "Are they still in operation?"

"They are. Still," returned the gentleman, "I wish I could say they were not."

"Oh. I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course," said Scrooge.

"Under the impression that they scarcely furnish adequate health of mind or body to the multitude," returned the gentleman, "a few of us are endeavoring to change matters."

"Those establishments are sufficient," said Scrooge. "Those who are badly off must go there."

"Many can't go there; and many would rather die."

"If they would rather die," said Scrooge, "they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population."

Later that night, when Scrooge was with the Spirit of Christmas Present:

From the foldings of its robe, the Spirit brought two children. They knelt down at its feet, and clung upon the outside of its garment. They were a boy and a girl, meager and ragged. Scrooge started back, appalled.

The Spirit said: "This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, but most of all beware this boy."

Ignorance is indeed the greater threat. The news media by their own words are the very personification of ignorance. They warn people off supplements when supplementation is the very thing people need to be healthier, or at the very least, less sick. Of course, if people were less sick, they'd use fewer drugs. Pharmaceutical advertising income lines the media's pockets. That would explain those hatchet-jobs on vitamins.

But we can fix it. Improving essential vitamin and mineral intake through inexpensive multivitamins and vitamin C tablets will improve health nationwide, worldwide. Until we can get everyone eating healthfully, supplementation is an immediately available, affordable answer.


1. Forbes: Case Closed: Multivitamins should not be used.

2. NBC Nightly News, Dec 16, 2013: New studies dispel multivitamin myths.

3. CBS: Multivitamin researchers say "case is closed" after studies find no health benefits.

4. Annals of Internal Medicine: Enough is enough: Stop wasting money on vitamin and mineral supplements. 17 Dec 2013, Vol. 159. No. 12.

5. NY Times:

6. The Week:

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Editorial Review Board:

Ian Brighthope, M.D. (Australia)
Ralph K. Campbell, M.D. (USA)
Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D. (USA)
Damien Downing, M.D. (United Kingdom)
Dean Elledge, D.D.S., M.S. (USA)
Michael Ellis, M.D. (Australia)
Martin P. Gallagher, M.D., D.C. (USA)
Michael Gonzalez, D.Sc., Ph.D. (Puerto Rico)
William B. Grant, Ph.D. (USA)
Steve Hickey, Ph.D. (United Kingdom)
Michael Janson, M.D. (USA)
Robert E. Jenkins, D.C. (USA)
Bo H. Jonsson, M.D., Ph.D. (Sweden)
Peter H. Lauda, M.D. (Austria)
Thomas Levy, M.D., J.D. (USA)
Stuart Lindsey, Pharm.D. (USA)
Jorge R. Miranda-Massari, Pharm.D. (Puerto Rico)
Karin Munsterhjelm-Ahumada, M.D. (Finland)
Erik Paterson, M.D. (Canada)
W. Todd Penberthy, Ph.D. (USA)
Gert E. Schuitemaker, Ph.D. (Netherlands)
Robert G. Smith, Ph.D. (USA)
Jagan Nathan Vamanan, M.D. (India)
Atsuo Yanagisawa, M.D., Ph.D. (Japan)

Andrew W. Saul, Ph.D. (USA), Editor and contact person. Email: This is a comments-only address; OMNS is unable to respond to individual reader emails. However, readers are encouraged to write in with their viewpoints. Reader comments become the property of OMNS and may or may not be used for publication.

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