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Orthomolecular medicine, a form of alternative medicine, aims to maintain human health through nutritional supplementation. The concept builds on the idea of an optimum nutritional environment in the body and suggests that diseases reflect deficiencies in this environment. Treatment for disease, according to this view, involves attempts to correct “imbalances or deficiencies based on individual biochemistry” by use of substances such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, trace elements and fatty acids. The notions behind orthomolecular medicine are not supported by sound medical evidence and the therapy is not effective; even the validity of calling the orthomolecular approach a form of medicine has been questioned since the 1970s.
The approach is sometimes referred to as megavitamin therapy because its practice evolved out of, and in some cases still uses, doses of vitamins and minerals many times higher than the recommended dietary intake. Orthomolecular practitioners may also incorporate a variety of other styles of treatment into their approaches, including dietary restriction, megadoses of non-vitamin nutrients and mainstream pharmaceutical drugs. Proponents argue that non-optimal levels of certain substances can cause health issues beyond simple vitamin deficiency and see balancing these substances as an integral part of health.
Linus Pauling coined the term “orthomolecular” in the 1960s to mean “the right molecules in the right amounts” (ortho- in Greek implies “correct”). Proponents of orthomolecular medicine hold that treatment must be based on each patient’s individual biochemistry.
The scientific and medical consensus holds that the broad claims of efficacy advanced by advocates of orthomolecular medicine are not adequately tested as drug therapies. It has been described as a form of food faddism and as quackery. Proponents point to mainstream sources that have published research supporting the benefits of nutrient supplementation and to instances where conventional medicine uses vitamins as treatments for some diseases.
Some vitamins in large doses have been linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, of cancer and of death. The scientific consensus view is that for normal individuals, a balanced diet contains all necessary vitamins and minerals, and that routine supplementation is not necessary absent specific diagnosed deficiencies.

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