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Chief Editor
Dr Mike Ellis
Email: mindquest@

Lesley Pocock

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23 Years of Documented Vitamin Safety
Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, February 27, 2007


(OMNS, Feb 27, 2007) Over a twenty-three year period, vitamins have been connected with the deaths of a total of ten people in the United States. Poison control statistics confirm that more Americans die each year from eating soap than from taking vitamins.

Where are the bodies?
A 23-year review of US poison control center annual reports(1) tells a remarkable and largely ignored story: vitamins are extraordinarily safe.

Annual deaths alleged from vitamins:
2005: zero
2004: two
2003: two
2002: one
2001: zero
2000: zero
1999: zero
1998: zero
1997: zero
1996: zero
1995: zero
1994: zero
1993: one
1992: zero
1991: two
1990: one
1989: zero
1988: zero
1987: one
1986: zero
1985: zero
1984: zero
1983: zero

The zeros are not due to a lack of reporting. The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), which maintains the USA's national database of information from 61 poison control centers, has noted that vitamins are among the 16 most reported substances. Even including intentional and accidental misuse, the number of alleged vitamin fatalities is strikingly low, averaging less than one death per year for more than two decades. In 16 of those 23 years, AAPCC reports that there was not one single death due to vitamins.

These statistics specifically include vitamin A, niacin (B-3), pyridoxine (B-6), other B-complex, C, D, E, "other" vitamin(s), such as vitamin K, and multiple vitamins without iron. Minerals, which are chemically and nutritionally different from vitamins, have an excellent safety record as well, but not quite as good as vitamins. On the average, one or two fatalities per year are typically attributed to iron poisoning from gross overdosing on supplemental iron. Deaths attributed to other supplemental minerals are very rare. Even iron, although not as safe as vitamins, accounts for fewer deaths than do laundry and dishwashing detergents.


1. Annual Reports of the American Association of Poison Control Centers' National Poisoning and Exposure Database (formerly known as the Toxic Exposure Surveillance System). AAPCC, 3201 New Mexico Avenue, Ste. 330, Washington, DC 20016. Download any report from1983-2005 at http://www.aapcc.org/annual.htm free of charge. The "Vitamin" category is usually near the end of the report.
For 2005 http://www.aapcc.org/Annual%20Reports/05report/2005%20Publsihed.pdf
For 2004 http://www.aapcc.org/Annual%20Reports/04report/AJEM%20-%20AAPCC%20Annual%20Report%202004.pdf
For 2003 http://www.aapcc.org/Annual%20Reports/03report/Annual%20Report%202003.pdf
For any other year: http://www.aapcc.org/annual.htm

Nutritional Medicine is also known as Orthomolecular Medicine
Linus Pauling defined orthomolecular medicine as "the treatment of disease by the provision of the optimum molecular environment, especially the optimum concentrations of substances normally present in the human body." Orthomolecular medicine uses safe, effective nutritional therapy to fight illness. For more information: http://www.orthomolecular.org

The peer-reviewed Orthomolecular Medicine News Service is a non-profit and non-commercial informational resource.
Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, July 11, 2006

Follow-Up Report by the Independent Vitamin Safety Review Panel
(OMNS July 11, 2006) More and more practicing physicians are coming forward in support of vitamins.

Drawing on decades of actual experience with many thousands of patients, family doctors and specialists assert that vitamin supplements are safe and effective even in high doses.

Peter H. Lauda, M.D., of Vienna, Austria writes:
"Over all the years I have prescribed vitamins for prevention and treatment, for a huge number of patients including both adults and children. I have never seen any serious problems or dangerous side effects caused by vitamin supplements. Furthermore, routinely performed lab analyses did not show any impairments or objective signs of liver, renal and other organ damage caused by vitamin supplements."

Robert F. Cathcart, M.D., of California says:
"Vitamin supplements are safe. I have never seen a serious reaction to vitamin supplements. Since 1969 I have taken over 2 tons of ascorbic acid myself. I have put over 20,000 patients on bowel tolerance doses of ascorbic acid without any serious problems, and with great benefit."

Allan N. Spreen, M.D., of Arizona, says:
"I can certainly state that, after many years of both hands-on practice and personal research, vitamin supplementation is extraordinarily safe, even in doses far higher than published daily recommendations. They are also infinitely safer than any prescription medications."

Richard P. Huemer, M.D., of California, writes:
"Reports of vitamin toxicity, rare as they are, are sometimes based on flimsy evidence. Such fallacious reports may appear in medical journals. In one, it was asserted that a rather unimpressive chronic dose of vitamin A had caused liver failure, but certain histologic features of vitamin A toxicity were not described, nor was any attempt made to quantify vitamin A in the liver or even in the blood."

Jerry Green, M.D., Canada, says:
"After practicing orthomolecular medicine for over 35 years, I have seen that vitamins are extremely safe particularly when one compares them to other patient choices such as drugs, surgery, or doing nothing and thereby suffering from vitamin deficiency from our modern devitalized foods."

Erik Paterson, M.D., also of Canada:
"As a family doctor, I often see serious adverse effects in my patients from conventional drugs. I have yet to see any such thing from megadoses of vitamins. I believe myself to be alive because of the large doses of vitamins which I take on a daily basis."

Klaus Wenzel, M.D., Germany, writes:
"For more then 20 years I have used vitamin supplements for an increasing number of patients and medical problems. And from all these years of medical practice, I can state that vitamin supplements are very safe."

Chris M. Reading, M.D., in Australia, says:
"I have had measurement done of serum vitamin levels in over ten thousand patients since 1978, and have safely corrected low levels with supplements in amounts far higher than the RDA. Vitamin supplements are safe and essential to correct low vitamin levels and to correct ill health. In my experience, vitamin supplements can save people from premature death, depression, suicide, dementia, psychosis, and heart failure."

Karin Munsterhjelm-Ahumada, M.D., from Finland, writes:
"After nearly 20 years using only conventional medicine, I have an additional 10 years experience working with high dose vitamins. I can assure you that not only have they been very safe, but vitamins are also very helpful in my work with all kinds of very ill patients."

From Sweden, Bo H. Jonsson, M.D., Ph.D., writes:
"Vitamin supplements are very safe, especially when compared to xenobiotic drugs. Used with knowledge, vitamins are enormously important for prevention and treatment of disease."

The educators and physicians of the Independent Vitamin Safety Review Panel assert that:

  1. There is not even one death per year from vitamins. (Watson WA et al. 2003 annual report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers Toxic Exposure Surveillance System. Am J Emerg Med. 2004 Sep;22(5):335-404.) http://www.aapcc.org/Annual%20Reports/03report/Annual%20Report%202003.pdf
  2. Consumers are not getting a fair picture of vitamin safety and efficacy from government-sponsored sources, particularly the National Institutes of Health. http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v02n05.shtml and http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v02n06.shtml)
  3. When they do have all the information, consumers see that vitamin supplements are safe, far safer than drugs. (Lucian Leape, Error in medicine. Journal of the American Medical Association, 1994, 272:23, p 1851. Also: Leape LL. Institute of Medicine medical error figures are not exaggerated. JAMA. 2000 Jul 5;284(1):95-7.)
  4. Public access to vitamins should not be restricted. (Testimony before the Government of Canada, House of Commons Standing Committee on Health, regarding nutritional supplement product safety. Ottawa, May 12, 2005). http://www.doctoryourself.com/testimony.htm
  5. Vitamin supplementation is not the problem. It is under-nutrition and over-medication that are the problems. Vitamins are the solution.

Abram Hoffer, MD
Robert F. Cathcart, MD
Michael Janson, MD
Thomas Levy, MD, JD
Erik Paterson, MD
Woody R. McGinnis, MD
Allan N. Spreen, MD
Bo H. Jonsson, MD, PhD
Chris M. Reading, MD
Bradford Weeks, MD
Karin Munsterhjelm-Ahumada, MD
Jerry Green, MD
Stephen Faulkner, MD
Klaus Wenzel, MD
Richard Huemer, MD
Peter H. Lauda, M.D.
Jonathan Prousky, ND
Michael Friedman, ND
Wilddam B. Grant, PhD
Harold Foster, PhD
H. H. Nehrlich, PhD
Steve Hickey, PhD
Gert E. Schuitemaker, PhD
Andrew W. Saul, Editor

Editorial Review Board:
Abram Hoffer, M.D., Ph.D.
Harold D. Foster, Ph.D.
Bradford Weeks, M.D.
Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D.
Erik Paterson, M.D.
Thomas Levy, M.D., J.D.
Steve Hickey, Ph.D.
Andrew W. Saul, Ph.D., Editor and contact person. Email: omns@orthomolecular.org