I have a family history of dementia and have been advised that megadoses of vitamin supplements will help to prevent my having the same problem. My pastor is selling a megadose vitamin supplement to our church members; do you advise me to use these? Are there other preventative interventions?
You raise a number of concerns on this important topic. The incidence of various forms of dementia is increasing, and many are worried about their future, just as you are. This concern increases as, for example, we sometimes find ourselves struggling to remember names. This may occur as we grow older, but does not necessarily imply the presence of dementia per se. Many factors contribute to mild forgetfulness, such as lack of sleep, emotional stress, domestic crises, or personal or family illness.
I question the ethics of a pastor/pastoral spouse who sells products of any kind to their congregation. This is blatant conflict of interest and abuses the sacred role of the pastorate. Congregants in this setting represent a “captive audience,” leaving them with feelings of disloyalty if they do not purchase the proffered wares, or a feeling of guilt if they do not support the pastor‘s financial venture!
Additionally, it is a sad fact that although many pastors have an interest in health matters, relatively few have formal training in health; this is a problem that General Conference Health Ministries has attempted to address over the years, by crafting and teaching courses on the foundations of health to pastors around the world. This helps them understand and apply health principles in their own lives, and impart reliable information to the churches and communities that they serve. It provides pastors with tools that help discern facts versus hype. It is our prayer and desire that formal health training be implemented as requirements into every seminary training program.
Everyone should be trained in health, commencing in childhood! Ellen White wrote: “A practical knowledge of the science of human life is necessary in order to glorify God in our bodies. It is therefore of the highest importance that among the studies selected for childhood, physiology should occupy the first place. . . . Many are drifting about without knowledge, like a ship at sea without compass or anchor; and what is more, they are not interested to learn how to keep their bodies in a healthy condition and prevent disease.”*
There is no evidence that megadoses of vitamins, especially where there is not a deficiency, help in the prevention of dementia. They can be harmful.
What does help? Regular exercise; regular healthy sleep habits; a balanced vegetarian diet rich in phytochemicals, naturally occurring vitamins, and minerals; and, in those choosing a total vegetarian diet, supplementation of vitamin B12. Meditation on the Word, works, and ways of God, and a strong purpose for living, are also useful preventatives!
In short, live the Adventist health message wholistically, and the start of cognitive dysfunction may be delayed. Progression of the inevitable may be delayed as well.
*Ellen G. White, Counsels on Health (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1923), p. 38.
Peter N. Landless, a board-certified nuclear cardiologist, is director of the General Conference Health Ministries Department.