Megavitamin Therapy

Megavitamin Therapy

Megavitamin therapy involves taking a large dose of a specific vitamin or mineral, often much more than the recommended daily allowance (RDA). In certain cases, patients take up to ten times the recommended amount. The dose varies according to the type of vitamin, as some vitamins are known to have toxic effects on the body when ingested in large quantities. Megavitamin therapy is thought to help prevent and treat specific diseases, including both mental and physical disorders. It is considered a type of alternative therapy and is often used to complement conventional medicine. Megavitamin therapy may also be called orthomolecular medicine or megadose vitamin therapy.

History

Megavitamin therapy first appeared in the early 1930s, when psychiatrists used high doses of supplementary nutrients as a form of treatment for mental disorders. For instance, vitamin B3 was used to treat schizophrenia. Hormones, vitamins, and minerals took on roles as medicinal substances. By the 1950s, the practice was given the title “orthomolecular medicine” by biochemist Linus Pauling.

Senior man eating a spoon of vitamins

Rationale

Many people take vitamins on a day to day basis. Doctors may prescribe multivitamins to patients who have poor dietary habits or suffer from medical conditions that make the absorption of nutrients in the body difficult. A particular multivitamin may include some or all of the thirteen essential vitamins that the body needs to develop, grow, and function optimally. Most vitamins are responsible for completing a unique job within the body and when a person has a deficiency for a particular vitamin, it may result in a number of unwanted side effects. For instance, vitamin D regulates the minerals calcium and phosphorous, which have specific roles in the body. It also helps to maintain bone structure and prevent bone diseases such as osteoporosis. Vitamin D may be absorbed through regular exposure to sunlight, but because not everyone can spend time in the sun – for instance, people living in countries with long, cold winters – sometimes doctors recommend taking it in supplement form. The practice of megavitamin therapy evolved from the practice of taking vitamins in small doses on a day-to-day basis to maintain health; however, the effectiveness of megavitamin therapy is unsubstantiated.

Megavitamin Therapy - 1

Effectiveness

Nutrients, including vitamins, play a powerful role in the body, especially when it comes to preventing common illnesses or injury. However, most research suggests that this only occurs when vitamins are ingested according to the RDA. Medical research indicates that megavitamin therapy is not an effective measure of treating disease. Most experts agree that ingesting a large amount of a particular vitamin may have one of two possible effects; either it is toxic to the body or the excess amount of the vitamin is removed through the natural process of digestion. Critics of orthomolecular medicine discount this form of treatment as unproved pseudoscience, quackery, and food faddism. In any case, ingesting large quantities of vitamins has the potential to cause harm to the body.

Tips

Vitamins should be used as supplements when an individual has inadequate daily nutrition or suffers from an absorption deficiency. A well-balanced diet is usually sufficient to ensure that all vitamins are present in the body in adequate supply. Taking a high dose of a vitamin may result in toxicity.