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Dr. Roach: The great vitamin debate

Keith Roach
To Your Health

Dear Dr. Roach: Do you prescribe vitamins or treatments to enhance someone’s immune system?

C.N.

Dear C.N.: I do not.

In my opinion, a healthy diet makes a deficiency of a vitamin or mineral severe enough to weaken the immune system unlikely. Stress reduction (through many techniques) and good sleep are more important than supplements. People think that a daily vitamin and mineral supplement is like an insurance policy against a good diet.

However, many studies have shown that taking vitamins does not, in general, lead to improvements in prevention of disease, including heart disease, cancer or infections.

So I would be much more likely to recommend a better diet (especially in the fresh fruits and vegetables) than I would a supplement.

Many adults have not gotten all the vaccines that are recommended, and these are a huge benefit to your immune system for those specific bacteria and viruses.

Dear Dr. Roach: My 93-year-old mother is in very good condition, except for a kidney disease, which has been good for the past 26 years and she has had very good reports from her medical practitioner and her kidney specialist.

One thing that stresses me is why she complains of being sick all the time.

Is it because she wants attention, or just wants people to feel sorry for her?

I am her daughter, and our family is just upset because of the way she acts. She does have depression, but she has been given depression pills.

Please give me some information as to why she is doing this. As her daughter, I need TLC, and I need to know how to handle this situation.

A.M.A.

Dear A.M.A.: Based on no more information than you have just given me, I would suspect that she complains about being sick all the time because she feels sick all the time.

She probably needs some TLC herself. At 93, I believe she’s earned the right to be the one on the receiving end.

Depression may be the cause of her not feeling well, as it so often is.

Unfortunately, medication for depression is completely effective for only a minority of people. Depression goes hand in hand with many other illnesses, especially those with chronic pain.

I worry that there is a problem you don’t know about. Consider accompanying your mother to her next doctor’s visit, as I am certain she has done for you.

Email questions to ToYourGoodHealth@med.cornell.edu.