This article explores the potential problems with long-term use of anti-anxiety medication and the importance of re-humanising the treatment of emotional distress. The original article, published in the Irish Examiner can be read here
By Liz Dunphy
Every morning Carmel wakes up from a fitful, toxic sleep in her Tipperary home. Her whole body vibrates like an internal jackhammer is belting her from inside — a loud sharp tinnitus floods her brain with distracting noise, her muscles forget how to function and her skin feels too tight for her body.
These are just some of the symptoms that have plagued Carmel for 19 long months since she stopped taking low daily doses of Valium which she was prescribed since August 2007.
Valium (or diazepam) is a benzodiazepine, a drug mostly used to treat anxiety disorders and muscle spasms. Benzodiazepines enhance the effect of the brain’s tranquilising neurotransmitter GABA which slows down over-activity to reduce symptoms of anxiety.
Many others could be experiencing Carmel’s painful and isolating withdrawal symptoms in Ireland today. The 2012 HSE PCRS report which lists the 100 medications most frequently prescribed to medical card patients ranked diazepam as the 26th most prescribed drug in Ireland, having dropped one place in Ireland’s drug popularity stakes from 25th place in 2011.
There is no official data on how frequently private prescriptions for benzodiazepines are issued, but Minister Kathleen Lynch says benzodiazepines are being excessively prescribed.
“We have to take a serious look at prescribing practices across the whole Department of Health, the problem is not just limited to psychiatric illnesses,” says Minister Lynch.
Ivor Browne is Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at UCD, he was the Chief Psychiatrist of the Eastern Health Board and he is an eminent author on mental health.
Browne believes that benzodiazepines can be useful for relieving temporary anxiety but they should not be used on any regular or long-term basis because they are habit-forming.
“Anything that removes anxiety will be potentially addictive,” says Browne.
“Valium or its generic form Anxicalm can be effective, but all of these drugs are grossly overused, the person experiencing difficulties must work to overcome the traumas they have suffered with the support of a therapist.
“Psychotherapy, when it’s effectively undertaken, is the only real therapy. And Prozac and all other SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, used as antidepressants) are actually dangerous and in my opinion should never be used,” says Browne.
“Everything is disconnected in our society when everything in reality is interconnected, this needs to change to solve our societal problems.
“We need to recognise that the heart is our real centre, not the brain. All our emotional life is centred in the heart and there are more messages going from the heart to the brain than vice-versa. There’s an awful lot yet to be understood,” says Browne.
Prof David Healy is the Professor of Psychopharmacology at Bangor University in Wales, he is Irish and his innovative website www.RxISK.org invites people to research and report the benefits and side effects experienced when using prescription drugs. People can record their experiences on the website which will generate a free RxISK report that they can bring to their own doctor.
The gathered accounts form a database that aims to make medicine safer for patients. Healy believes it can also help to equalise power between doctors and patients by giving patients an option to record their symptoms with other medical professionals for free. And Healy believes that equalising that power is vital to improving our healthcare system.
“In the 1960s drugs were viewed as poisons. The magic of medicine was that doctors could use poison to produce good. Industry has changed this model, turning pharmaceuticals into something to be used as a fertiliser, to be sprinkled widely, but these drugs are generally tested on people for four to six weeks, not for the months or years that people are actually prescribed them for.
“The human body can take poisons for a month — but not for indefinite, constant periods of time without doing damage,” says Healy.
Bridget Hayes, a mother of three is from Limerick, she was prescribed Xanax for 20 years to treat anxiety which began when she experienced thyroid problems.
“I feel like I’ve lost 20 years of my life. I was turned into an addict. I went to hospital as a day patient for years and no one said that I shouldn’t be on all these medications for so long, no one ever mentioned that they could be addictive either,” says Hayes.
“And they never offered counselling, even though they had a psychotherapist in that hospital. They just dish out tablets, and there are obviously reasons why people feel anxious or depressed which they need to talk about and understand. Psychotherapy should be the first port of call for these problems.”
Echoing concerns voiced by Prof Healy and Prof Browne about the additional dangers of SSRIs, Hayes noted that when an SSRI called Seroxat was added to her drug cocktail things got even worse.
“On Seroxat I lost all emotion, I couldn’t feel anything and I didn’t care about anyone, least of all myself. I had never had depression before but this anti-depressant made me feel suicidal. I started drinking heavily and I tried to kill myself a few times.”
Hayes realised that the medication was making her worse, and asked to stop.
“Dr Terry Lynch saved me. I read his book Beyond Prozac and I recognised myself in it. I started the Ashton method with Dr Lynch to come off Xanax, he taught me coping strategies and he’s a huge support,” says Hayes.
The Ashton method is a protocol for benzodiazepine withdrawal developed by Professor Heather Ashton, an Emeritus Professor of Clinical Psycho-pharmacology at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, England, in which you slowly reduce your dose while managing your symptoms. The Ashton Manual, which includes tapering schedules, is available on www.benzo.org.uk
“Once I came off Xanax and only took small doses of Valium I suddenly regained feelings and memories,” says Hayes. “My parents died a few years ago but I cried over their deaths for the first time recently, I had been so numbed by medication that I couldn’t feel any emotions.”
Hayes still has good and bad days but she has learned coping mechanisms, like deep breathing to deal with anxiety without medication.
“I feel cheated from so many years of my life. I have to go through hell to get off the medication and the people who put me on it can’t help me. The receptors in my brain are still damaged from the medication and it will take time to heal,” says Hayes.
“And it’s such a contradiction, these drugs are known to cause depression and anxiety as a side effect, yet people are prescribed them to treat those very symptoms.”
Dr Terry Lynch who helped Hayes with her benzodiazepine withdrawal, practiced as a GP before noticing problems in how medicine addressed mental health issues. He writes books on the topic (including a best seller Beyond Prozac, and a new book Depression Delusion, Vol.
One: The Myth of the Brain Chemical Imbalance, published this month). He now works full time helping people to improve their mental health through a combination of emotional, psychological and physical interventions, including medication.
“The existence of brain chemical imbalances, which psychiatric drugs are supposedly designed to correct, has never been scientifically verified. It’s a widely promoted and accepted myth. The pain and distress are very real but the chemical imbalance is not.
“These problems need to be addressed from a broader perspective, one that includes the emotional and psychological aspects of the person as well as the physical.
“The starting point should be seeking to make sense of people’s experiences and emotions at a human level,” says Lynch.
“Generally the medical profession now accept that benzodiazepines can be addictive and can cause difficult withdrawal symptoms but that awareness came belatedly.”
Lynch is concerned that a similarly delayed recognition of the potential problems with SSRIs may be currently unfolding. “As a society, we need to reconsider whether a biologically-dominated model for emotional and mental health and wellbeing is best for people or not,” he says.
Unexpected journeys can begin in the most mundane of ways. Mary*, a young mother from Tipperary fell off a slide while on holiday when holding her four-year-old on her lap.
“I got burning nerve pains after the fall, I thought that I had a degenerative neurological disease and I got quite depressed. My GP gave me an anti-depressant called sertraline (a SSRI), Xanax (alprazolam — a benzodiazepine) and the sleeping pill zopiclone ( a Z drug that works in a very similar way to benzodiazepines).
“Four weeks later I experienced severe, deep twitching in my legs and I still had burning nerve pains. I went to see a consultant who prescribed amitriptyline which worked well and ended my nerve pain, but afterwards I was hospitalised for tachycardia, which was actually quite lucky because the hospital diagnosed drug-induced arrhythmia, so I knew then that the medication was causing problems.”
Mary* only took the medication for six weeks but she has battled withdrawal symptoms for 13 months. “I asked to come off the medication and I didn’t crave it at all but my body and brain just couldn’t adapt quickly to functioning without them. But my cousin took them for three to four months and stopped taking them with no problems, so we all react differently,” says Mary*.
“I found that my symptoms matched the benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms others reported on the internet. I learned that certain substances, like sugar and alcohol really aggravated my symptoms because they excite the nervous system, and MSG is a neurotoxin anyway so this worsens my symptoms too.
“Once I had information I felt more in control of what was happening. But Baylissa Frederick really saved me, she set up great online resources http://www.RecoveryRoad.org and a counselling website http://www.baylissa.co.uk. Without Baylissa’s help and support I’d either be on a very hard, painful, lonely road or else I’d be dead.”
Baylissa Frederick, the woman that Mary* attributes with helping her to cope with withdrawal, was first prescribed the benzodiazepine clonazepam in early 1998 for dystonia, a movement disorder.
“I didn’t know the drug was addictive until I started feeling unwell, I exhausted diagnostic tests and had multiple emergency visits to casualty, before I found the Ashton Manual online.”
“Of all the people I’ve supported, 90% found out the drug was the cause of their problems via the internet and asked their doctors to come off it. They print off tapering schedules from the Ashton Manual to bring to their doctors.
“For those on the drug who plan to stop taking it, never stop abruptly. Speak to your doctor and find a tapering schedule that is safe and not rushed.”
Frederick believes that normal emotions such as grief and stress are now pathologised.
Instead of allowing people to process these feelings and deal with them through talking and human support, people visit their GPs and end up with a prescription to a drug that could potentially cause them further problems.
“Many of the people I support were put on benzos, z-drugs and antidepressants for normal reactions to grief. At first I was shocked at how many had become dependent on these meds because of a bereavement,” says Frederick.
“Benzodiazepines basically put a chemical cushion between you and reality,” says Dr John Dunphy, a GP in Carrigaline, Co Cork, “that cushion can be very useful if you hit a rocky patch that is too uncomfortable to bear temporarily — but the problem is that that cushion can also smother you if it’s not closely monitored.”
Can positivity make you more productive?
We’ve all heard (and intrinsically know!) that positivity is generally a good force in our lives but can it make us more successful and more productive?
Psychologist Shawn Achor certainly thinks so. In this entertaining video he argues that happiness actually inspires productivity.
Multiple recent developments have inspired us at Dunphy Medical to focus on healthy brains this month, here are a few of them.
- Trinity College in association with the EU recently launched Hello Brain, a website and free app that promotes mental agility, brain health and understanding of this fascinating organ, follow a link to their site here http://www.hellobrain.eu/en/
- This October Bank Holiday weekend (25th-27th October), Muintir na Tíre is organising a National Active Community Weekend in conjunction with Console to promote mental health.
- TedTalks, (a favourite reference on this site as frequent visitors know) have a great playlist this week called How Does My Brain Work which features 9 videos on separate aspects of brain function.
Here’s one of those TedTalks by Daniel Wolpert called The Real Reason For Brains, I hope you find it as interesting as I did. It also greatly supports and explains the rationale of a physical therapy which I use in my practice (Neural Organisation Technique – N.O.T.) which I have found of great benefit in head, spinal and other physical injuries, and also unexpectedly in dyslexia and learning disorders over the past 30 years. Further information on N.O.T. can be found on this blog by clicking on Neural Organisation Technique under Categories, a section that shows on the left side of our home page.
We’ve added more videos from this TedTalks series on our Facebook pages https://www.facebook.com/dunphymedical and http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dr-Sean-Dunphy/173021722744006?ref=hl and there is always endless content on http://www.ted.com/ too.
In 2006 I had the unique experience (for a short time) of using umbilical cord stem cells in a range of chronic diseases. Because of this experience I was invited as a guest speaker to the European Anti-ageing Conference in Athens, Greece in 2007 and to the World Anti-ageing Conference at the Palais de Congres in Paris the following year.
A fellow speaker from Oxford presented some fascinating new information on how spectacularly adaptive and regenerative the brain is, this quality is called plasticity. Brain plasticity was believed to be impossible as recently as approximately 10 years ago, so all medical textbooks more than 10 years old are 100% wrong in relation to brain plasticity and are best thrown on your next bonfire!!
We can thank the humble canary bird for our first scientific breakthrough in this regard, it generates 500,000 new neural (brain) cells learning a new song every spring – neural stem cells are a key player in learning and memory.
A study of London taxi-drivers who memorised and learned the ‘knowledge’ ie a map of London’s many streets like an internal GPS, showed a 14% growth of the hippocampus (the area of the brain responsible for memory) after just 9 months.
Another study found that when rats learned to navigate a new maze, after only 5 trials they developed more than 20,000 new brain cells. The control group of rats that just ran around a ring for the same time showed no increase in brain cells.
Here’s a video neatly summarising neuroplasticity courtesy of http://www.HelloBrain.eu
Here’s a video from http://www.HelloBrain.eu summarising the best ways to keep your brain healthy
Another great TED Talk.
Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows how “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success.
Sometimes the little things can make a big difference to our health and to our lives.
Hope you enjoy this video!
Here’s a video from Ron Gutman on why smiling is better than chocolate….
Why did Steve Jobs Die? – Dr. John McDougall
Loving Your Lady Parts – Alisa Vitti
23 and 1/2 hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our health?
What’s wrong with what we eat? – Mark Bittman
Natural Cure for Depression, Bipolar, ADHD, Schizophrenia – Dr. Abram Hoffer
In celebration of Mothers Day this Sunday 30th March, we are celebrating all things feminine with a video from the inspirational TedTalks, and some information on the benefits of Vitamin B for women of all ages.
TEDxFiDiWomen – Alisa Vitti – Loving Your Lady Parts as a Path to Success, Power & Global Change
Many people take a vitamin B complex to increase energy, enhance mood, improve memory and focus, and stimulate the immune system, however B vitamins may be particularly important for women for a number of reasons. B vitamins can help alleviate PMS symptoms, and women taking the contraceptive pill may particularly want to watch their B vitamin intake as there is an established link between contraceptive pill use and depleted vitamin B6.
A vitamin B complex is a dietary supplement that contains all eight of the B vitamins: B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6, B7 (biotin), B9 (folate), B12. Also found naturally in a number foods, B vitamins help the body to produce energy and form red blood cells.
Health Benefits of B Vitamins
Each B vitamin is essential for specific bodily functions:
- B1 and B2 are important for healthy functioning of the muscles, nerves, and heart
- B3 helps regulate the nervous and digestive systems
- B5 and B12 are required for normal growth and development
- B6 supports the immune system and aids the body in breaking down protein
- B7 is involved in the production of hormones
- B9 helps cells make and maintain DNA
Studies show that taking supplements containing certain B vitamins may benefit your health. For instance:
- B1 may help prevent kidney disease in people with type 2 diabetes and reduce risk of cataracts
- B2 may prevent migraines; B3 may lower cholesterol levels
- B6 may protect against heart disease, relieve PMS symptoms, and alleviate pregnancy-related nausea
- B9 may help prevent breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and pancreatic cancer. B9 (folate) can also decrease the risk of birth defects when taken by pregnant women
- B12 may lower cervical cancer risk and reduce levels of homocysteine (an amino acid thought to contribute to heart disease when it occurs at elevated levels)
Why Do People Take B Complex Supplements?
Proponents claim that vitamin B complex supplements can help with a variety of health conditions, including:
- Heart Disease
- Premenstrual Syndrome
- Skin Problems
Food Sources of B Vitamins
- cereals and whole grains (a source of B1, B2, and B3)
- green leafy vegetables (a source of B2 and B9)
- eggs (a source of B7 and B12)
- chicken (a source of B3, B6, and B12)
- citrus fruits (a source of B9)
- nuts (a source of B3 and B9)
- kidney beans (a source of B1 and B2)
- bananas (a source of B6 and B7)
Vitamin B5 is found in almost all foods.
When Should You Take a B Complex Supplement?
If you’re not getting enough B vitamins from your diet, taking a B complex supplement may be beneficial. Deficiency in B vitamins can cause a number of symptoms, including tiredness, anemia, loss of appetite, depression, abdominal pain, muscle cramps, hair loss, and eczema.
Consult your health care provider to find out whether a B complex supplement is right for you.
The B Complex we currently stock is Douglas Lab’s Tri-B-100.
Energy and stress control
Tri-B-100 provided by Douglas Laboratories® is a six
to eight hour timed release formulation of all the B
vitamins as well as several other important dietary
components metabolically associated with the B
As coenzymes, the B vitamins are essential
components in most major metabolic reactions. As
water-soluble substances, B vitamins are not
generally stored in the body in any appreciable
amounts (with the exception of vitamin B-12).
Therefore, the body needs an adequate supply of B
vitamins on a daily basis.
Vitamin B-1 (thiamin), vitamin B-2 (riboflavin), and
niacinamide are all essential coenzymes in energy
production. Thiamin is required for the energetics of
the glycolytic and Citric Acid Cycle reactions.
Thiamin is also related to nerve impulse
transmission. Riboflavin is a component of
coenzymes FAD and FMN, which are intermediates
in many redox reactions, including energy production
and cellular respiration reactions. Niacin is a
component of the coenzymes NAD and NADP,
which are also integral components of energy
Vitamin B-6 dependent enzymes are required for the
biosynthesis of many neurotransmitters, including
serotonin, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. Vitamin
B-6, a coenzyme in amino acid metabolism, is also
necessary for the processing of homocysteine and the
conversion of tryptophan into niacin.
Folic acid together with vitamin B-12 serves as a
methyl donor for biosynthetic reactions, including the
conversion of homocysteine to methionine.
Optimum metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, and
fats depends upon adequate levels of biotin and
pantothenic acid. Biotin is essential for many
metabolic carboxylation reactions, while pantothenic
acid, as part of Coenzyme A, is essential to energy
production via the Citric Acid Cycle.
While not truly vitamins, choline, inositol, and paraaminobenzoic
acid are important, related nutrients to
B vitamins. Choline serves not only as a methyl
donor for homocysteine metabolism following
conversion to betaine, but also as a structural
component of cellular membranes as
phosphatidylcholine and of the neurotransmitter
acetylcholine. Inositol aids in the cellular response to
hormonal signals, serves as a source of arachidonic
acid, and is active in cellular membranes as
phoshatidylinositol. Finally, para-aminobenzoic acid
is an integral component of folic acid as well as
having antioxidant properties.
Tri-B-100 tablets may be a useful dietary supplement
for those individuals who wish to increase their
intake of the B vitamins to help maintain the higher
energy levels needed for stress control.
Each Timed Release B-Complex Tablet Contains:
Vitamin B-1 ………………………………………….100 mg
Vitamin B-2 ………………………………………….100 mg
Vitamin B-6 ………………………………………….100 mg
Vitamin B-12 ………………………………………..100 mcg
Folic Acid …………………………………………….400 mcg
Pantothenic Acid …………………………………..100 mg
Choline Bitartrate ………………………………….100 mg
PABA ………………………………………………….100 mg
In a base designed to provide prolonged
release over a 6 to 8 hour period.
Douglas Product Data
Adults take 1 tablet daily or as directed by physician.
No adverse effects have been reported.
Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct light.
Keep out of reach of children.
Anonymous. Folic acid for the prevention of neural tube defects.
American Academy of Pediatrics. Committee on Genetics.
Elkin AC, Higham J. Folic acid supplements are more effective
than increased dietary folate intake in elevating serum folate levels.
Haller J. The vitamin status and its adequacy in the elderly: an
international overview. Int J Vitam Nutr Res 1999;69:160-8.
Jansonius JN. Structure, evolution and action of vitamin B6-
dependent enzymes. Curr Opin Struct Biol 1998;8:759-69.
Kim YI. Folate and cancer prevention: a new medical application
of folate beyond hyperhomocysteinemia and neural tube defects.
Nutr Rev 1999;57:314-21.
Kleijnen J, Knipschild P. Niacin and vitamin B6 in mental
functioning: a review of controlled trials in humans. Biol
Lakshmi AV. Riboflavin metabolism–relevance to human
nutrition. Indian J Med Res 1998;108:182-90.
McCarty MF. High-dose pyridoxine as an ‘anti-stress’ strategy.
Med Hypotheses 2000;54:803-7.
Schoenthaler SJ, Bier ID. The effect of vitamin-mineral
supplementation on juvenile delinquency among American
schoolchildren: a randomized, double-blind placebo- controlled
trial [see comments]. J Altern Complement Med 2000;6:7-17.
Selhub J, Bagley LC, Miller J, et al. B vitamins, homocysteine, and
neurocognitive function in the elderly. Am J Clin Nutr
American Cancer Society. “Vitamin B Complex“. May 2010.
Chang TY, Chou KJ, Tseng CF, Chung HM, Fang HC, Hung YM, Wu MJ, Tzeng HM, Lind CC, Lu KC. “Effects of folic acid and vitamin B complex on serum C-reactive protein and albumin levels in stable hemodialysis patients.” Curr Med Res Opin. 2007 Aug;23(8):1879-86.
Clarke R, Lewington S, Sherliker P, Armitage J. “Effects of B-vitamins on plasma homocysteine concentrations and on risk of cardiovascular disease and dementia.” Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2007 Jan;10(1):32-9.
Galan P, Kesse-Guyot E, Czernichow S, Briancon S, Blacher J, Hercberg S; SU.FOL.OM3 Collaborative Group. “Effects of B vitamins and omega 3 fatty acids on cardiovascular diseases: a randomised placebo controlled trial.” BMJ. 2010 Nov 29;341:c6273. doi: 10.1136/bmj.c6273.
National Institutes of Health. “B Vitamins: Medline Plus“. August 2011.
National Institutes of Health. “Folic acid: MedlinePlus Supplements“. August 2011.
National Institutes of Health. “Niacin and niacinamide (Vitamin B3): MedlinePlus Supplements“. August 2011.
National Institutes of Health. “Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6): MedlinePlus Supplements“. August 2011.
National Institutes of Health. “Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): MedlinePlus Supplements“. August 2011.
National Institutes of Health. “Thiamine (Vitamin B1): MedlinePlus Supplements“. August 2011.
National Institutes of Health. “Vitamin B12: MedlinePlus Supplements“. August 2011.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Abram Hoffer PhD, RNCP, President Orthomolecular Vitamin Information Centre speaks about treating mental health concerns with nutrients. This alternative therapy employs vitamins, minerals, and amino acids to create optimum nutritional content for the body, as well as the right environment and equilibrium. Like most alternative medicine techniques, orthomolecular medicine targets a wide range of conditions. [depression, bipolar, adhd, schizophrenia, add, addiction, alcoholism, drug addiction…]
Orthomolecular medicine was developed by Linus Pauling, Ph.D., winner of two Nobel prizes, in 1968. It is designed to enable individuals to reach the apex of health and the peak of their performance by utilizing only naturally occurring substances (e.g. vitamins, minerals, enzymes, trace elements, co-enzymes). The proper balance of these substances in the body is the key to reaching physical, mental, and emotional health and stability. Orthomolecular medicine can be used therapeutically to treat diseases such as cancer and AIDS, or preventatively to impede the progress of degenerative disease and aging. When all is said and done, however, the main objective of orthomolecular medicine is to help the patient reach an optimal level of health; his or her self-esteem will probably improve in the process.
Although orthomolecular medicine did not fully develop into a therapy until the late 1960’s when Pauling coined the term “orthomolecular,” the premise behind this practice originated in the 1920’s, when vitamins and minerals were first used to treat illnesses unrelated to nutrient deficiency. It was discovered that vitamin A could prevent childhood deaths from infectious illness, and that heart arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) could be stopped by dosages of magnesium. Hard scientific evidence supporting nutritional therapy did not emerge, however, until the 1950’s, when Abram Hoffer, M.D., and Humphrey Osmond, M.D., began treating schizophrenics with high doses of vitamin B3 (niacin). As a consequence of their studies, it was revealed that niacin, in combination with other medical treatments, could double the number of recoveries in a one-year period.
Eventually, it was determined that malnutrition and consumption of refined, empty-calorie foods such as white bread and pastries and overconsumption of sugar could yield disease and psychiatric disorders. It became apparent that a person’s diet was an overwhelmingly integral part of his or her health and well-being. Further studies showed that decreased intake of dietary fiber, bran, minerals, and complex carbohydrates was prevalent in patients with certain forms of mental illness, accompanied by a loss of vitamins and an increase in dietary fat.
Biochemical individual is a main principle of orthomolecular medicine. This principle was elucidated by Roger J. Williams, Ph.D. This principle is quite simple: every living organism is unique! Furthermore, each individual requires different relative amounts of nutrients for his or her satisfaction and optimal level of health. The government sets a minimum recommended daily allowance (RDA) which is supposed to be adequate for all individuals. However, many may need to exceed the RDA as well as the recommended 2,000 calorie diet in order to prevent severe deficiency disease. Thus, RDA values are not perfect guidelines for everyone. Several studies have proven the existence of biochemical individuality. For example, studies of guinea pigs showed a twentyfold variation in their requirement for vitamin C. A study conducted with human subjects revealed that children have varying needs for vitamin B6.