In an unprecedented action, the World Health Organization (WHO), the United
Nations (UNICEF), and an AIDS activist group that promotes drug therapy in South
Africa, joined forces in opposing vitamin therapy that exceeds the
Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA), and in particular vitamin C in doses they
describe as being "far beyond safe levels." These health agencies
suggest nutrients primarily be obtained from the diet and warn that supplemental
doses of vitamin C that exceed a 2000 milligram per day upper limit could cause
side effects such as diarrhea. The AIDS activist group also suggests patients
receiving doses beyond the RDA should undergo proper counseling and informed
consent before being placed on high-dose vitamin C.
As outrageous as these statements sound, they burst into public view recently
with an ongoing battle between Dr. Matthias Rath, a former Linus Pauling researcher,
and The Treatment Action Campaign in South Africa. The public battle ensued after
Dr. Rath published a full-page ad in the New York Times and the International
Herald Tribune advocating vitamin therapy over anti-AIDS drug therapy. Coinciding
with these full-page newspaper ads is a legal battle underway in South Africa
where The Treatment Action Campaign seeks to censor statements made by Dr. Rath.
Dr. Rath cites a study by Harvard Medical School researchers that showed dietary
supplements slow the progression of AIDS and resulted in a significant decline
in viral count. [New England Journal of Medicine 351: 23–32, 2004] Harvard
researchers responded by saying vitamin therapy is important but may not replace
anti-viral drug therapy.
Diet promoted over supplements
UNICEF and WHO advocate a balanced diet rather than supplements despite the
fact AIDS patients have nutritional needs that exceed what the best diet can
provide. AIDS patients often exhibit nutrient deficiencies due to malabsorption
or diarrhea. Vitamin E, one of the supplemental nutrients provided in a cocktail
developed by Dr. Rath for AIDS patients, is known to reduce the incidence of
diarrhea. [STEP Perspectives 7:2–5, 1995]
RDA for vitamin C is bogus
Furthermore, the RDA for vitamin C established by the National Institutes of
Health (NIH), referred to by the Treatment Action Campaign, was established
using testing methods that have been proven to be inaccurate. A study published
last year in the Annals of Internal Medicine by NIH scientists clearly shows
much higher vitamin C levels can be achieved with oral dosing than previously
thought possible. [Annals Internal Medicine 140:533–7, 2004]. Twelve noted
antioxidant researchers have petitioned the Food & Nutrition Board to review
the RDA for vitamin C now that it is apparent the RDA is based upon flawed research.
Steve Hickey Ph.D. and Hilary Roberts, pharmacology graduates of Manchester
University, have authoritatively outlined the flaws in the current RDA for vitamin
Furthermore, the RDA was established for healthy people and does not apply
to patients with serious infectious disease such as AIDS patients.
Health groups tip their hand
This battle over vitamin supplements may be a foretaste of what will happen
later this year when a worldwide body called Codex Alimentarius will meet to
establish upper limits on vitamin and mineral supplements. Codex is governed
under the auspices of the United Nations and World Health Organization. These
health organizations are tipping their partiality for drugs over nutritional
For example, Codex may establish a 2000 mg upper limit for vitamin C as previously
proposed by the National Academy of Sciences, or as low as 225 mg which was
recently established by German health authorities. Controlled studies do not
support the use of either number.
Dr. Rath is reported to recommend 4000 milligrams of daily vitamin C for AIDS
patients. The amount of oral vitamin C that a patient can tolerate without diarrhea
increases proportionately to the severity of their disease. [Med Hypotheses
18:61-77, 1985] AIDS patients often don’t exhibit any diarrhea with extremely
high-dose vitamin C therapy. Diarrhea may occur among healthy individuals following
high-dose vitamin C therapy depending upon how much vitamin C is consumed at
a single point in time. Divided doses taken throughout the day minimizes this
Huckster or helper?
Dr. Rath, a renowned vitamin researcher who described a vitamin C cure for
heart disease and cancer in 1990 in collaboration with Nobel prize winner Linus
Pauling [Proc Natl Academy Sciences 87:9388–90, 1990], is characterized
as a "wealthy vitamin salesman" by the Treatment Action Campaign in
South Africa. Rath’s vitamin company is providing free vitamin therapy
for AIDS victims in South Africa.
Anti-AIDS drug therapy failing
World health organizations appear to be solely backing AIDS drug therapy at
a time when a highly drug-resistant strain of HIV that quickly progresses to
AIDS has been reported in New York [AIDS Alert 20: 39–40, 2005], and drug
resistance is a growing problem [Top HIV Medicine 13: 51–57, 2003]. It’s
only a matter of time till all current anti-AIDS drugs fail.
Of particular interest is selenium, a trace mineral included in Dr. Rath’s
anti-AIDS vitamin regimen, which appears to slow progression of the disease.
Researchers report HIV infection has spread more rapidly in Sub-Saharan Africa
than in North America primarily because Africans have low dietary intake of
selenium compared to North Americans. [Medical Hypotheses 60: 611–14,
2003] Selenium appears to be a key nutrient in counteracting certain viruses
and HIV infection progresses more slowly to AIDS among selenium-sufficient individuals
[Proceedings Nutrition Society 61: 203–15, 2002].
The strong reaction by world health organizations against vitamin supplements
causes one to wonder if they are afraid vitamin therapy will actually prove
to be a viable alternative to AIDS drug therapy.
May 16, 2005
Bill Sardi [send him mail] is a consumer advocate and health journalist, writing
from San Dimas, California. He offers a free downloadable book, The Collapse
of Conventional Medicine, at his website.