Saturday, May 22, 2010

Nosebleeds and Recommended Daily Allowances are out of my Life

Until recently, I'd been having bad nosebleeds for a while. Specifically, since November 1999 when I had septoplasty surgery. My otolaryngologist recommended it because I had a deviated septum (that's the stiff middle part of the inside of the nose) and enlarged turbinates. I had frequent sinus infections and supposedly, this surgery would help prevent them. (It didn't. But it was nice to be able to breath through both sides of my nose at the same time.)

About a month ago, I read the following in Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution p. 126, published in 1972:

About vitamins in general, I don't believe in minimum daily requirements. I believe in optimum dosage. I have used vitamins in megadoses in my practice with great success.
....
You cannot safely increase the standard dosage of Vitamin A (5,000 international units) nor of Vitamin D (400 international units). But so-called overdoses of the other vitamins are simply flushed away by the kidneys. And the mineral and vitamin needs of individuals vary widely--on or off any diet. What may be an overdose for somebody else may be barely enough for your body's needs, depending on various factors: your age, the stress you are under, and your past history of diet and of previous medications. [emphasis in original]
But what about the fact that the book is almost 40 years old, and what about the recommended daily allowance? That the book is old doesn't make it wrong. But if age is important to you, the recommended daily allowances are much older: according to Wikipedia, they were created in 1941 and took wartime rationing into account. Wikipedia doesn't say what studies the guidelines were based on, and I haven't found that information on the 'net. The earliest recommendation I can find for zinc--a mineral I was considering--is from 1968. The highest recommended value hasn't changed since. (In fairness, some of the other recommendations might have changed since Glenn Miller or the McGuire Sisters were on the Hit Parade. I didn't bother to check.) Other sources I've read state the 1941 allowances were merely supposed to prevent deficiencies.

So both pieces of advice that apply to zinc are about the same age. However, Dr. Atkins' observation that people have different needs makes more sense than one set of recommendation for millions, and he stated where his knowledge came from: his practice successfully treating thousands of patients. And the government recommendations were just minimums that didn't address larger doses.

I knew that zinc was good for the skin--it had helped me before with chapped lips and acne. Could it heal the inside surface of my nose if I took more of it? I started taking two zinc tables a day in addition to the vitamins I took. In all, I started taking 115 mg a day plus the zinc in the food I ate. That's over six times the recommended daily allowance. Result: I'm almost ready to say my nosebleeds are gone. I have not felt any ill effects.

As for sinus infections, the last one I had was in 2001. That was right before I quit working in an industry that was sucking the life out of me.

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