Tag Archives: vitamin c

Holford demonstrates why online health advice can be problematic

Patrick Holford has made clear his opinions on vitamin C and swine flu (we have already discussed an earlier version of his post, and I don’t know that there is much else to add). However, I was interested to not some of the user comments now on this post, and Holford’s responses. Giving health advice online is always problematic, and Holford does a good job of demonstrating some of the pitfalls.

It is always problematic to give advice without a full – and competently taken – patient history, not something which can be done in blog comments. This issue comes to light when one woman asks in the comments:

I think I have swine flu with a terrible cough and phlegm. What do you recommend I eat and drink?

In such circumstances, one would have hoped that the commenter would have been advised to phone her GP’s surgery or another competent medical professional: a lot of things cause coughs; many (thankfully) heal fine without any intervention, but some will require medical treatment.

Perhaps most worrying, though, is advice relating to current product use. ‘Vix’ states that

I am trying to ensure that both of my sons (aged 2 and 9) are well prepared to battle the impending flu season. I currently give my eldest son 500mg of Vitamin C per day – along with Echinacea, 2 teaspoons of Sambucol and a teaspoon of Colloidal Silver. My youngest gets about the same. Is this enough? And is there a childrens Vitamin C powder that you can specifically recommend? I can’t seem to find one on the Totally Nourish website – only capsules.

Colloidal silver carries risks, but does not bring any benefits. Dosing varies between products, so it is quite possible that a 2 year old and 9 year old child could be getting significant doses of the stuff. I would have hoped that Vix would have been warned of the risks of the product and referred to a competent professional; at a minimum, one would have hoped that enquiries could have been made as to the doses used. However, Holford responds by stating that:

I am not sure that Echinacea is the right thing for swine flu during infection. RE vit C BioCare do a good value vit C powder. I don’t see it on the Totally Nourish website though. I’m sure they can get it for you if you ask. That, in some diluted juice, works best for children.

I do not think that Holford’s blog post is an appropriate setting to offer this type of advice. I also have concerns about some of the advice offered. I will therefore be sending a complaint off to BANT (Holford is a Fellow) this weekend; I hope that they take prompt, effective and transparent action on this issue.

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Patrick Holford’s Recommendation for Swine Flu – Same As Those for Bird Flu But With Phrase Substitution – Updated

Patrick Holford on ITV Lunchtime 16 April 2008

Patrick Holford has broken his (unaccountable) silence about pandemic fears around Mexico City flu (aka, swine flu). Take vitamin C. Jab more vitamin C into your veins. Take more supplements. Black elderberry makes it harder for viruses to enter your cells. Roll up. Learn about the Rath formulation that cures everything from cancer to HIV and flu. Roll up. Continue reading

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Patrick Holford and the Vitamins for Asthma That Become All About Food Intolerance and YorkTest

I have explained this many times
Patrick Holford is Head of Science and Education at Biocare and a busy man. However, he has a little time on his hands since becoming a former Visiting Professor at the University of Teesside so he started a blog on which only paying-subscribers were allowed to comment. Sadly, despite the additional writing practice, Holford’s ability to provide accurate references or even link to the correct paper has not improved. We also have a splendid example of flip-flopping on the value of meta-analyses that is nicely captured in a recent Will Wilkinson summary of David Brooks:

Scientists have discovered X. Mostly X vanquishes my intellectual bugbears and confirms me in my prejudices. To the extent it doesn’t, science isn’t really an authoritative source of wisdom, now is it?

Continue reading

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Holford on Kim Hill’s Radio New Zealand show

We were concerned to hear Patrick Holford featuring in a truly disappointing interview on Kim Hill’s Saturday morning radio show: he was given over 50 minutes, almost unchallenged, to assert a whole manner of dubious claims. Patrick Holford – introduced as a “British nutritionist” – was allowed to share his wisdom on such things as addiction, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s Disease and cancer. I can’t deal with this all here – you really need to listen to the show in its entirety to fully appreciate how often it hits you round the head with the stupid stick – but I will note a few low/highlights. I should also say that we did e-mail the show before broadcast to raise some concerns; however, they chose to give Holford the opportunity to share his wisdom with their listeners, almost unchallenged. Continue reading

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Alternative Nutrition bingo: we predict industry responses to the JAMA trial of vitamin C and E

The Journal of the American Medical Association has recently published a good quality, placebo-controlled, randomised, double-blind trial looking at whether vitamin C and E supplementation can reduce cardiovascular events. It ran for 10 years, and included “14 641 US male physicians enrolled, who were initially aged 50 years or older, including 754 men (5.1%) with prevalent cardiovascular disease at randomization.” The trial concluded that “[t]hese data provide no support for the use of these supplements for the prevention of cardiovascular disease in middle-aged and older men.”

I was surprised to see that the alternative nutrition industry has not yet responded to this – I was waiting with bated breath for Sir Cliff Richard’s definitive critique of the science – so I thought that I would respond on their behalf: frankly, the alternative nutrition industry’s response to such trials has become tediously predictable so there seems to be little point in waiting.

I will list a number of likely industry responses below; I will then enjoy the small satisfaction of ticking them off when they appear in industry press releases: Continue reading

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Patrick Holford On the Topic of Natural Versus Synthetic Vitamins

Former Visiting Professor Patrick Holford is still Head of Science and Education at Biocare so, presumably, they believe that he enhances their reputation and scientific credibility.

You may be interested in Holford’s opinion on the matter of natural v. synthetic vitamins in his 1985 classic, Vitamin Vitality: pp. 122-3 (quotations between rules to make them easier to read).


Natural versus synthetic
A great deal of rubbish has been said and written about the advantages of natural vitamins. First of all, many products claiming to be natural simply aren’t. Continue reading

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‘Dr’ Holford on the immune system in the Galway Advertiser

Here at HolfordWatch, we were interested to see the Galway Advertiser referring the ‘Dr Patrick Holford’: Holford is not a doctor.  The paper has been contacted about this – and we are sure that Holford himself will be keen to see this error corrected. However, there are also a number of other significant problems with the article: two many to analyse in one post, but we will look at a couple here.

Firstly, Holford claims that the immune system

fights off viruses, bacteria and other organisms which try to attack you and cause illness, from the common ones that cause cold…to the more rare but often deadly ones like…AIDS.

AIDS is not a virus, bacteria or organism: it can be defined as “a set of symptoms and infections resulting from the damage to the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus”. AIDS is also – with apologies for stating the obvious – a serious condition. People who have developed AIDS, or are concerned about HIV/AIDS, should discuss this with a qualified doctor rather than taking the advice of a self-described nutritionist. Continue reading

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