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The Vitamin Cure for Heart Disease: How to Prevent and Treat Heart Disease Using Nutrition and Vitamin Supplementation Paperback – May 15, 2011
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About the Author
Hillary Roberts is the Imperial War Museum Research Curator of Photography in the UK. She is a specialist in the history of war photography and an author.
Steve Hickey has a B.A. (math and science) from the Open University, membership of the Institute of Biology by examination in pharmacology, and is a chartered biologist and a former member of the British Compute Society. He did research into ultra-high-resolution computerized tomography (CT) body scanning, leading the physics team in Europe's first clinical magnetic resonance (MR) imaging unit at Manchester Medical School. He has over 100 scientific publications, covering a variety of disciplines. Currently, he is a member of the biology department of Staffordshire University.
Top customer reviews
This book is an excellent summary of research on heart disease and how to prevent and reverse it with dietary supplements of essential nutrients. The authors, Hilary Roberts and Steve Hickey, are experts on the beneficial effects of vitamin supplements on preventing health problems caused by vitamin deficiencies. They have studied the effects of vitamin supplements on disease for more than a decade, and have published previously on this topic. I found the book fascinating and profound. It explains many details about heart disease and the effect of vitamin deficiencies in causing it, and also the social science background on why medical science has had difficulty in reaching a consensus on the cause of heart disease.
The books starts off with an in-depth overview of the cardiovascular system. It describes the blood, its clotting system, the heart and its 4 chambers, and the effects of high blood pressure on the arteries. Considerable detail is presented on atherosclerosis and the plaques that form and clog the arteries when inflammation is present. Although this detail is extremely important and well-known to researchers, it is not widely understood. Evidently the plaques form when the arteries are inflamed by any of several causes, but this inflammation can be prevented by a variety of antioxidants. One of the causes for inflammation in arteries is weakness in the arterial wall that originates in degradation of its collagen over decades from a diet poor in vitamin C.
Next, the book presents a history of the theories about the of dangers of cholesterol, and thoroughly debunks them in considerable detail. The authors explain why many in the medical profession and the media have not understood the true causes of atherosclerosis. One of the problems has been that risk factors such as high cholesterol, although known to be associated with inflammation and found in plaques, is not the cause of inflammation -- it is a consequence. Therefore lowering cholesterol by any of a myriad of methods does not directly ameliorate heart disease. Smoking is an example of a risk factor that is a direct cause of heart disease. The reason is that it introduces free radicals into the body that degrade antioxidants and cause cellular damage.
The book explains that the real function of statin drugs in helping to prevent atherosclerosis, as recently recognized by many medical researchers, is to reduce inflammation. These drugs are expensive and hardly help most people, but do cause many serious side effects. They are generally no more effective than taking adequate doses of vitamins and minerals. For example, niacin taken at the proper dose is for many people more effective and cheaper than statins at lowering cholesterol, and has many other beneficial effects for the body. Vitamin C, vitamin E, niacin, and a diet containing the proper types of fat can all help to lower cholesterol and other blood lipids. Many risk factors, including cholesterol, are not the real culprit -- they are simply be a consequence of the inflammation that causes heart disease. It can be prevented by a proper diet.
The authors identify fructose, commonly found in jams, jellies, fruit juices and many types of processed foods, as a source of obesity and inflammation of the arteries, especially in growing children. The reason is that fructose in beverages such as fruit juice and sodas gives calories but does not satiate the appetite, leading children and young adults to take more than their bodies need. The calories are converted to body fat rather than directly supplying the body's energy needs. Further, fructose in the bloodstream causes oxidation of arterial tissues that it contacts, and it is a major source of high blood pressure. Whole fruit when digested releases fructose slowly and also contains vitamins and fiber, so it is a much better food than fruit juice or soda.
The authors explain that several forces in our modern society have shaped popular attitudes. Large drug companies have often developed and marketed drugs with little benefit over vitamin supplements because they must make profits. Vitamins cannot be sold for the huge profits that accompany drug sales, because vitamins are not patentable. Therefore, large double-blind health studies testing the benefits of adequate doses of vitamin C and other essential nutrients in heart disease and other age-related diseases have never been done. They cost huge amounts and the large drug companies cannot justify the expense for an unpatentable vitamin.
Yet from a variety of scientific studies, we know that a deficiency in vitamin C can cause stroke and heart disease. The authors' attitude about the larger social causes for health-related issues becomes evident when they explain how the present confusion about atherosclerosis came about. In hindsight, many theories of the involvement of cholesterol in atherosclerosis are a diversion from its real cause. The authors' attitude can be understood as the perspective of researchers who are trying to clear the confusion in our society, especially the media and medical establishment, about the cause of heart disease. What may appear to be an attack on the status quo is instead a fact-based plea to the medical establishment for common sense in applying well-understood but not widely known vitamin treatments for common age-related diseases, a priority being heart disease.
The book discusses in great detail the evidence from studies on animals and people that shows that vitamin C taken in adequate doses, along with other vitamins and nutrients such as vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids, can prevent fatty plaques from forming and reverse their progression. Genetic factors are important in heart disease -- but one of the most pervasive genetic problems in humans is our inability to synthesize vitamin C. Most other animals can make vitamin C in their bodies, so for them it is not a vitamin -- just an essential biochemical. Gradually, over decades, a deficiency of vitamin C weakens our arteries, leading to inflammation, fatty plaques, strokes, and atherosclerosis. This can be prevented, and even reversed with adequate doses in our diet. Daily, we need 6,000 mg of vitamin C to keep healthy, according to our ability to absorb it, but when an acute illness strikes, we can utilize 20,000 mg or more. These doses are best taken divided throughout the day. The book explains that research shows that high doses of vitamin C and vitamin E are safe. A list of daily doses of other essential nutrients and antioxidants is provided. The book is well written, with lots of examples and anecdotes, so is accessible to the lay reader. It is heavily documented with appropriate scientific references and will be a tremendous resource to anyone interested in their health.
The kindle edition of this book is just plain awful. If the information wasn't so important and well explained, I would have given up. Problems include: Bad kerning and font problems resulting in words that run together and overlap. Lengthy (3-5 screen) side notes that begin/end without warning and often interrupt mid sentence. Formatting information such a page numbers and page headers in random spots within the the main body of text. All information presented in table layout in the print book is totally scrambled and in apparently random word order, usually making the information total gibberish. The convenience of an instant download and a few bucks saved were still worth the pain, but just barely. I'm grateful the Kindle edition is offered, but not very happy with it.
For me this book fills in the missing ingredients of the regime I was following, for example:-
1) A better understanding of Vitamin E
2) A better idea of the way different supplements can be made to interact
3) Rational scientific explanation of why vitamin treatment works; it takes me a certain amount of moral courage to ignore "the concensus" and this book helps.
I commend this book to everybody.
It does make the mistake however of not distinguishing between Vitamin K1 and Vitamin K2. K1 is easily available and not all that relevant to heart disease, except for its effect on blood clotting, whereas K2 is more likely to be deficient, and has a major role in reducing plaque.
Bon courage, bon chance, et bon sante