dedicated to dr.abram hoffer

Long Term Deficiency

This was first recorded about 70 years ago in the literature on pellagra. The pellagrologists noted that in sharp contrast to patients who had been sick for a short time, those who had been sick for a long time did not get well on small doses of vitamin B-3; chronic pellagrins might need as much as 3000 milligrams daily before their symptoms cleared. This was an enormous dose when early cases only needed a few milligrams each day. This was also observed in canine pellagra (black tongue). Dogs kept on a deficient diet for only a few months recovered very quickly when given the vitamin, but if they were kept on the diet more than six months they also needed larger doses. What had been a simple deficiency disease was converted to a vitamin dependency.

This also occurred to soldiers who were prisoners in the Japanese prison of war camps during the last world war. Canadian soldiers were kept in these camps for forty-four months and were subjected to very severe malnutrition and deficiency of almost all the vitamins. One-third died in camp, and the ones who returned were almost dead. The Hong Kong veterans never did really recover fully and they suffered severe physical and mental disorders with a high death rate. However, about fifteen of the veterans were started on large doses of niacin and in every case they recovered in a few weeks. They had developed a niacin dependency.

There is no doubt that populations of the world exposed to dreadful stress and malnutrition will suffer serious disease over next decades. Most of the survivors will suffer from one or more dependency conditions. People dependent on a vitamin or vitamins will need much larger doses, perhaps forever. The longer they remain in the condition that created the dependency, the greater the need will be. The small amounts needed if they had not become dependent are not a guide to what they need and should never be used as a guide, nor should blood levels be used as a basis, as there is not a close correlation between blood levels and the need for these large amounts.

Gastro intestinal surgery may cause a vitamin dependency. Medical Post, Toronto, for February 14, 2006, reports one case of a woman who had a gastric bypass and developed severe thiamin deficiency symptoms. She needed 100 milligrams every eight hours before her muscles returned to normal and her confusion decreased. These are the amounts needed by patients with chronic alcoholism who develop the psychosis called Wernicki Korsakoff disease.