ANDREW W SAUL
Editor of the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service
It is simply incredible what people have been told about vitamins. Now the press is trying to scare women away from prenatal supplements. (1,2) Didn’t see that one coming, now, did you?
Several friends who work as missionaries asked me if vitamin C supplementation would help the indigenous peoples they work with in South American rainforests. Since I think supplemental C is valuable for all humans, I said “yes.” They took it from there, and for years now have been giving multi-thousand-milligram doses of ascorbic acid powder to the natives daily. The result is that miscarriage and infant mortality rates have plummeted.
Vitamin C Protects Mother and Baby
Far from being an abortifacient, vitamin C in fact helps hold a healthy pregnancy right from the start. Pediatrician Lendon Smith, M.D., known to TV audiences nationwide as “The Children’s Doctor, had this to say: “Vitamin C is our best defense and everyone should be on this one even before birth. Three thousand mgs daily for the pregnant woman is a start. The baby should get 100 mg per day per month of age.”
For centuries, postpartum hemorrhage was a leading cause of death in childbed. Hemorrhage very often occurs in scorbutic (vitamin C deficient) patients. (3) Optimum dosing with vitamin C prevents hemorrhage and saves women’s lives. One way it may do this is by strengthening the walls of the body’s large and small blood vessels.
“Harmful effects have been mistakenly attributed to vitamin C, including hypoglycemia, rebound scurvy, infertility, mutagenesis, and destruction of vitamin B(12). Health professionals should recognize that vitamin C does not produce these effects.” (Levine M et al, Journal of the American Medical Association, April 21, 1999. Vol 281, No 15, p 1419)
Dr. Frederick R. Klenner, M.D., gave very large doses of vitamin C to over 300 pregnant women and reported virtually no complications in any of the pregnancies or deliveries (4). Indeed, the hospital nurses around Reidsville, North Carolina, noted that the infants who were healthiest and happiest were the “Vitamin C babies.” Abram Hoffer, M.D., has similarly reported that he has observed a complete absence of birth defects in babies born to his vitamin-C taking mothers-to-be.
Specifically, Klenner gave:
(1) 4,000 mg each day during the first trimester (first three months of pregnancy)
(2) 6,000 mg each day during the second trimester
(3) 8,000 to 10,000 mg each day during the third trimester
Some women got 15,000 mg daily during the third trimester. There were no miscarriages in this entire group of 300 women.
Klenner gave “booster” injections of vitamin C to 80% of the women upon admission to the hospital for childbirth. But just with oral supplemental vitamin C, the results were wonderful. First, labor was shorter and less painful. (My children’s mother, with her 2 hr 45min and 1hr 45 min labor times, can confirm this.) Second, stretch marks were seldom to be seen. (Yes, I can vouch for this, too.) Third, there were no postpartum hemorrhages at all. And, there were no toxic manifestations and no cardiac distress. Among Klenner’s patients were the Fultz quadruplets, which at the time were the only quads in the southeastern U.S. to have survived.
Vitamin C even helps with conception. Vitamin C supplementation increases sperm production. More sperm, stronger sperm and better swimming sperm all manifested within only four days, at 1,000 mg daily C doses, in a University of Texas study. And this has been known now for over 30 years; it was first reported in Medical Tribune, May 11, 1983. (5)
Vitamin E Supplementation Prevents Miscarriage
This has been well known for nearly 80 years.
“1922 was the year the USSR was formed and Alexander Graham Bell died. And it was the year that vitamin E was discovered by H. M. Evans and K. S. Bishop. In 1936, Evans’ team had isolated alpha tocopherol from wheat germ oil and vitamin E was beginning to be widely appreciated, and the consequences of deficiency better known. Health Culture Magazine for January, 1936 said, “The fertility food factor is now called vitamin E. The expectant mother requires vitamin E to insure the carriage of her charge to a complete and natural term. If her diet is deficient in vitamin E, the woman is very apt to abort. It is more difficult to insure a liberal vitamin E supply in the daily average diet than to insure an adequate supply of any other known vitamin.”
“As early as 1931, Vogt-Moller of Denmark successfully treated habitual abortion in human females with wheat germ oil vitamin E. By 1939 he had treated several hundred women with a success rate of about 80%. In 1937, both Young in England and the Shutes in Canada reported success in combating threatened abortion and pregnancy toxemias as well. A. L. Bacharach’s 1940 statistical analysis of published clinical results “show quite definitely that vitamin E is of value in recurrent abortions.”
“Yet when the MDR’s (Minimum Daily Requirements) first came out in 1941, there was no mention of vitamin E. It was not until 1959 that vitamin E was recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as necessary for human existence, and not until 1968 that any government recommendation for vitamin E would be issued.” (9)
Taking supplemental vitamin E (at least 200 IU and perhaps 400 IU daily) greatly reduces the chance of miscarriage. By the end of WW II, there were already dozens of medical studies confirming this. (10)
Vitamins Vital for Pregnancy
Vitamins deliver healthier babies. The first few weeks of pregnancy are especially crucial to the developing embryo. Yet many women only begin to eat right and take necessary vitamin supplements once they know they are pregnant. This is weeks or even months too late.
Nutrition needs rise during pregnancy. Even the RDA’s are higher. This may be obvious to you, but many women eat really poor diets in general. Then, in a vain attempt to “get all the nutrition they need from a balanced diet” while “eating for two,” they tend to eat more of that same poor diet. Telling them to not take prenatal supplements is a genuine tragedy, for which the media and the medical professions cannot easily be excused.
One can only wonder why the media continually, repeatedly fails to even mention how vitamin supplementation benefits mother and baby. Here is what they missed:
- If you really want to avoid miscarriages and birth defects, avoid drugs of all kinds, prescription and over-the-counter. Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and all but the most essential medications.
- Vitamins are safer, vastly safer, than any drug. A really good diet, properly supplemented with a daily multivitamin plus appropriate quantities of other vitamins, will go a very long way to protect mother and baby.
5. http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=386823 See also: Dawson EB, Harris WA, Rankin WE, Charpentier LA, McGanity WJ. Effect of ascorbic acid on male fertility. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1987;498:312-23. PMID: 3476000 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3476000 ; and: Dawson EB, Harris WA, Teter MC, Powell LC. Effect of ascorbic acid supplementation on the sperm quality of smokers. Fertil Steril. 1992 Nov;58(5):1034-9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1426355.
6. Brody S. High-dose ascorbic acid increases intercourse frequency and improves mood: a randomized controlled clinical trial. Biol Psychiatry 2002 Aug 15; 52(4):371-4) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12208645
7. Yousef MI, Abdallah GA, Kamel KI. Effect of ascorbic acid and vitamin E supplementation on semen quality and biochemical parameters of male rabbits. Anim Reprod Sci. 2003. PMID:12559724 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12559724
8. Ciereszko A, Dabrowski K. Sperm quality and ascorbic acid concentration in rainbow trout semen are affected by dietary vitamin C: an across-season study. Biol Reprod. 1995. PMID:7626724 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7626724
9. Saul AW. Vitamin E: A cure in search of recognition, by Andrew W. Saul. Reprinted with permission from the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, 2003; 18: 3-4, p. 205-212. http://orthomolecular.org/library/jom/2003/pdf/2003-v18n0304-p205.pdf
10. Bicknell F and Prescott F. (1953) The Vitamins in Medicine, Third Edition. William Heinemann Medical Books Ltd. http://www.worldcat.org/title/vitamins-in-medicine/oclc/8581908/editions?referer=di&editionsView=true
More about the history of vitamin supplementation during pregnancy:
Case HS. Vitamins and Pregnancy: The Real Story. Basic Health Publications, CA. In press.
Hillemann, H. H. (1961) “The Spectrum of Congenital Defect, Experimental and Clinical” Journal of Applied Nutrition 14:1,2.
Smith, L., ed. (1988) Clinical Guide to the Use of Vitamin C: The Clinical Experiences of Frederick R. Klenner, M.D. Tacoma, WA: Life Sciences Press. http://www.whale.to/a/smith_b.html and http://www.seanet.com/~alexs/ascorbate/198x/smith-lh-clinical_guide_1988.htm