Caregivers of children, more often
than not, will look for alternative means of treatment, especially if
conventional modalities are creating side effects, or they are failing.
Pediatric oncologists have admitted to me that many of their patients
are involved in some sort of alternative care. Current studies
suggest that the percentage is greater than 70%.
The oncologists also informed me that
caregivers are often uncomfortable in telling them about the alternative
problems. Unfortunately it is east to understand why pediatric
guardians feel so uneasy about discussing these issues. Many
conventional physicians have little if any training in nutrition, herbal
of other complementary disciplines. Pediatric patients who are not
eating well are often told by their physicians to eat practically
anything from cola to candy as a means of getting some calories.
Data suggests that 40% of cancer patients die from malnutrition.
Empty calorie replacement with refined flours and sugars will worsen the
malnourished child’s state and hasten their demise.
It used to be thought, and still is,
by the majority of physicians, that vitamin and mineral deficiencies are
related to an overt specific syndrome. For example, the continued
deficiency of Vitamin C will lead to a disease called Scurvy. A lack of
iodine is likely to result in a thyroid goiter. Associations like
the American Dietetic Association, American Institute of
Nutrition, American Society of Clinical Nutrition and the National
Counsel Against Health Fraud, still recommend supplementing according to
the recommended daily allowances (RDA). They also state that
beyond the RDA levels, vitamin replacement is medically unnecessary, and
is not supported by the data.
What these organizations fail to
recognize is that marginal deficiencies of these nutrients will also
cause less that optimal functioning of the cells and therefore,
compromises that immune states of the individual.nbsp; Current eating
habits of Americans and children, in particular, have widened the gap of
optimal nutrition Sub-groups, including the chronically ill, often
have multiple marginal micronutrient deficiencies. These
deficiencies will eventually cause biochemical and physiological changes
that will translate into significant physical consequences.
What this means to the caregiver is
that each child has an individual set of circumstances which needs to be
addressed. Often, diet alone cannot correct the problems, and
supplementation is required. Occasionally, doses of nutrients may
have to be given in dosages well in excess of the RDA. These
pharmacological doses, in general, have a much greater risk than taking
the suggested RDA levels. Interactions with one vitamin or mineral
with another may actually cause a nutritional deficiency. An
example is the common combination of vitamin supplements of Vitamin C
and Folic acid. Folic acid is considered the deficient vitamin in
the American population. Interestingly the presence of large
quantities of Vitamin C taken at the same time as Folic acid will
significantly impair its absorption. Another example is the use of
zinc to improve the immune system. This mineral will also
interfere with iron absorption.
Herbs are chemicals and, even though
they often boast of safety, large doses or even moderate doses in small
sick children, can prove to have more risk than benefit. Issues
such as dose, manufacturer, type of vitamin and mineral preparation,
fillers, additives, time of day, intestinal acidity, season or lack
thereof, concurrent medicines, and overall nutritional state must be
considered when prescribing for these individuals. Chronically ill
children are especially susceptible to toxic reactions of micronutrients
due to size and body mass factors. Treat these substances as you
would any form of medication and check with your child’s physician
before adding or deleting them from the diet.
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