Why megavitamin therapy can make a difference
The dictionary describes megavitamin therapy as a "therapy based on a theory that taking very large doses of vitamins will prevent or cure physical or psychological disorders". But there is more to megavitamin therapy than this simple statement.
Megavitamin therapy, which is also known as orthomolecular medicine, focuses on providing the body with an extra consumption of nutrients than what is recommended. For example, levels of macronutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, fats and water, as well as levels of micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals are adjusted to provide the body with more than what it should typically be consuming. These can be obtained in the form of dietary supplements, or by making adjustments to daily dietary practice to include more vitamins from food sources.
The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences identified the amount of recommended vitamins and developed the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) system, which was universally accepted and used to identify the recommended daily dosages of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients for healthy living.
However, while the RDA may have been a perfect guide for the time when it was developed, during World War II, many feel that these numbers are too low for modern day living. The food we consume today undergoes far more handling and treatment than it did in 1939. We are also exposed to conditions such as radioactivity and higher, daily stress levels and many feel that more vitamins and minerals are required than those indicated by the RDA.
There is also the belief that taking more vitamins than necessary can cure or prevent diseases. According to an article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a University of California researcher listed more than fifty genetic diseases that were successfully treated by simply administering higher dosages of vitamins to patients.
While this may sound like ground breaking medical research, many medical practitioners are still skeptical about the idea that megavitamin therapy is a safe method to consider in treating disease. In fact, some of these professionals have described certain aspects of megavitamin therapy as nothing more than a food faddism. According to them, certain vitamin overloads could be toxic to the human body and deteriorate healthy living.
The main concern for orthomolecular medicine arises from encouraging patients to load up on higher dosages of vitamins without monitoring them to determine whether or not the added doses are in fact beneficial or harmful to their health or state of disease.
Another concern is that a vitamin must be proven to be unsafe before any legal action can be taken against it or products containing it. This is the complete opposite with pharmaceutical products, where they have to be proven safe and effective prior to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approving them and allowing their creators to market them to the public. This is one of the main reasons why practitioners prefer to use pharmaceuticals in treatments rather than adjusting the volumes of vitamins or minerals.
Megavitamin therapy has also been used to treat mental illnesses. "Orthomolecular Psychiatrists" like Carl Pfeiffer of the Pfeiffer Treatment Center and Abraham Hoffer have attempted to use a vitamin overload to cure mental illnesses.