My subject today is about vitamins; how important vitamins are, causes and symptoms of deficiencies and why we should supplement with them, and if time permits, the difference between natural and synthetic vitamins.
I hope to dispel once and for all the myth that if you eat “healthy” you don’t need to take vitamins. That may have been true for past generations that grew their own food and ate it fresh. They had fresh butter, milk and eggs from their own cows and chickens and they didn’t eat all the fast junk food that we eat today.
One of the most common complaints we hear at the store is about how tired people are. They just don’t have the energy they once did. When I question if they are taking any vitamins, the response is almost always no! The ones who say they are taking vitamins, are taking the cheap synthetic drugstore brands and they say they can’t tell any difference between when they do take them and when they don’t! Well, I can tell you that I can tell when I do and when I don’t take my vitamins. In fact, this was proved to me a while back. I had gotten all my vitamins out that I take in the morning- about 4 different things- and left them on the table because I didn’t want to take them until I ate, which would be after I got ready for work. Well, I ate breakfast, but I didn’t take the vitamins because there were some things on the table that blocked them from my view and I just didn’t remember them. All day that day, I kept just wanting to go lay down. I was so tired! I kept asking myself why I would be so tired? I slept good and I KNOW I took my vitamins because I remember getting them out. So as far as the placebo effect going on-it didn’t work for me because I really thought in my mind I had taken them. Well, when I got home, there they were still on the table. I said, “Now I know why I was so tired all day.” I repeated this same scenario a week later and it happened just the same way. I thought I took them, I couldn’t figure out why I was so tired, and got home and there they were.
There are 13 different known vitamins, each with its own special role to play. Sometimes I hear people say if they could only take one vitamin it would be … whatever. They really don’t understand how important every one of them is, or they wouldn’t say that. It’s kind of like saying if I could only have one of the 5 senses I’d choose…whatever. How can you choose between your sight or your hearing? You need them all!
Vitamins help regulate the metabolism and assist the biochemical processes that release energy from food. They work as coenzymes, activating enzyme systems in the body. Enzymes direct and carry out all reactions in the body, first breaking down the food we eat into its nutritional parts, then using those parts to build up our body. When we speak of a vitamin deficiency, we mean that there is not enough of that vitamin to activate all its systems. Thus, if we miss getting a vitamin we need, the enzymes system will not work, and some of our cells will not be made correctly. Disease occurs if we don’t eat the food that contains the vitamin that makes the enzyme system work. It is known that 17 diseases are caused by such deficiencies of vitamins. Aside from the obvious beri beri, pellagra,
scurvy, rickets, etc. I believe that vitamin deficiencies play a major role in every disease. Any problem, especially stress, brings a need for added vitamins and minerals. Long term marginal deficiencies can create a basic physical imbalance that affects our behavior, our intelligence, our performance, our resistance to disease, our recovery from illness, and our longevity.
A recent survey by the USDA revealed that not one of 21,000 people questioned was getting the RDA of 10 nutrients needed for good health. Not one!!! Of 21,000!!! And RDA’s are the bare minimum requirement to keep you from becoming seriously ill.
Some common deficiencies now in the US include: 90% of people are deficient in chromium; 80% are deficient in B6; 75% are deficient in magnesium; 68% in calcium; 57% in iron; 50% are deficient in Vitamin A; 45% are deficient in B1; 41% are deficient in Vitamin C. These amounts are based on average MINIMAL requirements. Ie, they’re not even getting the ridiculously low RDA’s. Individual needs may make deficiencies much more serious. i Marginal deficiencies lead to marginal health.
What causes nutrient deficiency?
A variety of factors can cause a person to expend, excrete, or malabsorb certain vitamins and minerals. Do you consume:
tobacco salt estrogen sugar cortisone mineral oil prescription drugs
antibiotics aspirin alcohol caffeine cortisone white sugar
antacids tranquilizers sleeping pills diuretics laxatives polluted water
fluoride pesticides food additives polluted air oral contraceptives chlorinated water
Or are you?
Nursing pregnant sick under emotional strain
had an accident or surgery
Let’s look at what some of these destroy.
Tobacco-each cigarette destroys 25mg of Vit C as well as B complex, Calcium, and Phosphorus
Antibiotics- Bvitamins and K
Antacids-A and B complex
Estrogen/ Birth control pills-entire B complex, folic acid, C and E
Aspirin-C, B, Calcium, potassium _How many of you have heard to take a baby aspirin a day? Well, if you’re doing that you’re losing these nutrients. How can that be health promoting? I think its ridiculous to do that-especially when fish oils will do the same thing without the harmful effects.
Alcohol-A, B, D, E, K, choline and magnesium
Caffeine- B, inositol, biotin, potassium, zinc, calcium and iron-(I know people who take calcium supplements, yet they still have deficiency symptoms of calcium because they’re drinking so much coffee and/or cokes that they’re losing it faster than they’re putting it in
Diuretics, B, potassium, magnesium, zinc
Cholesterol lowering drugs destroy Vitamin A and CoQ10.
So if you’re a smoker who’s on the pill or taking estrogen, and who drinks coffee, cokes, chlorinated water, and takes aspirin, or diuretics, etc and happen to be under a lot of stress-you’re a walking time bomb! Then if something does go seriously wrong with their health, they wonder what happened?
Let’s talk a minute about some of these medications. Most drugs are highly specific according to where they act in the cellular chemistry and in how they inactivate or destroy certain nutrients. The end result is that medications can be the primary cause of nutritional deficiencies. Here are some of the ways medications do this:
by increasing urinary excretion of nutrients
by blocking where the nutrient attaches within the cell
by blocking absorption of the nutrient
by binding to it and therefore, inactivating it
by causing it to be used up more rapidly
by actually destroying the nutrient
by increasing the loss of nutrients in the stoolii
What is really bad about this is that surveys show that on average, an elderly person takes 9 prescription drugs a day.iii Again, medicines can be the primary cause of nutrient deficiency. If you’re taking any medication, you need to find out what that drug is doing in your body in the way of destroying nutrients.
Any one of these factors can cause the body to need an increase in vitamins and minerals, and most people today encounter one or more of these factors on a daily basis! We also must consider other factors that impact our lives today:
The kinds of food you eat (Fresh fruits and veggies or processed, fast food) A sign posted on the junk food vending machine at a Zoo read, “Please don’t feed this food to the animals. It will kill them. Yet we eat it every day!!!
How these foods are prepared or processed. (Did you boil the food to death and then pour off the water? Was the food stripped of nutrients during refining process? 50%)
The physical, mental, and emotional stress you experience.
The environment in which you live and work and the contaminants to which you are exposed.(Pollutants increase need for antioxidants)
Your unique, individually determined biochemical heredity pattern or genetic code
The type and amount of exercise you do, or do not do.
The quality of soil in which your food was grown. (Depleted due to farming methods or organic, fertile, rich soil)
The type of water you drink-distilled water has had all the minerals removed.
Poor digestion (causing malabsorption of nutrients)
Early harvesting before food is ripe,
Transportation and long term storage
To begin with, food derives its nutritional strength from the soil it’s grown in. If its not in the soil, it can’t be in the food. The mineral content of much of the nation’s soil has been vastly reduced over the years by various factors, chief among which has been the continuous poisoning of the land by insecticides and chemicals. The soil becomes infertile and dead because we killed the soil organisms and earthworms, so we pump fertilizers and
chemicals in the soil and we can still grow a head of lettuce, but without those soil organisms there to help get the nutrients into the vegetables, it will be nutritionally empty.
According to the Journal of Applied Nutrition, 1993; 45:35-39 organically grown food is more nutritious than conventional. Over a two-year period, organically and conventionally grown apples, potatoes, pears, wheat, and sweet corn were purchased in the western suburbs of Chicago and analyzed for mineral content. Four to 15 samples were taken for each food group. On a per-weight basis, average levels of essential minerals were much higher in organically grown vs. conventionally grown food. The organically grown food averaged 63% higher in calcium, 78% higher in chromium, 73% higher in iron, 118% higher in magnesium, 178% higher in molybdenum, 91% higher in phosphorus, 125% higher in potassium and 60% higher in zinc. And the organically raised food averaged 29% lower in mercury than the conventionally raised food.
Practically all of the foods that we buy in the markets contain chemicals added by man. Do you realize that most of the food comes from chemically treated seeds, planted in chemically treated soil, saturated with chemical poisons to kill insects, refined and processed with a huge number of chemical additives and preservatives of one type or another, and finally packaged or canned with chemicals? We’re getting more chemicals in our food than we are nutrients!!
And if that wasn’t bad enough we strip what nutrients were there in the refining process. In the process of refining wheat into white flour 80% of it calcium and phosphorus is lost.iv There are over 24 nutrients stripped in the refining process and then they put 4 back and call it enriched. If I stole $10,000 from you and gave you $60.00 back, would you feel enriched? An experiment by Dr. Roger Williams, author of Nutrition Against Disease, showed that rats fed only white-flour bread died within 6 weeks, while a comparison group of rats fed only whole wheat bread thrived indefinitely.
As you can see, there are so many factors that can destroy the nutrients before you even eat the food, let alone all the things that destroy nutrients in the body, that supplementing with vitamins is a must if we’re to avoid getting deficiencies.
Deficiency diseases such as scurvy, beriberi or pellagra are rarely-if ever- observed in America. However, long before the teeth loosen, joints and legs become painful, and hemorrhages under the skin appear in classical scurvy, there may be “pink toothbrush” (gums that bleed when brushing the teeth), annoying joint aches, easy bruising, or other less severe symptoms which may indicate a marginal vitamin C deficiency.
Long before the clinical disease appears, definite, subtle yet harmful changes are taking place in the body.
The deficiency diseases are simply the final stages in a long-term depletion of the nutrient. Unfortunately, along the way, degenerative and chronic diseases may begin to develop.
Heart disease, arrhythmias, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, and mental illness are only some of the diseases which have been associated with low consumption of certain nutrients.v
A large percentage of individuals live much of their lives in this sub-par compromised state. Chronic low-grade health problems such as fatigue, headache, sleep disorders, anxiety and digestive difficulty are often caused by a nutritional deficiency.
The RDAs were instituted over 40 years ago as a standard for the daily amounts of vitamins needed by a healthy person. But these amounts give us only the bare minimum required for a healthy person to prevent deficiency diseases such as beriberi, rickets, scurvy etc. This does not take into account all the factors that can destroy them. As I said, if you smoke, drink alcohol, take medications, eat fast food and are under stress, you’re destroying them faster than you’re taking them in and you WILL be deficient. The government is in the process of revising the RDAs and they will be considerably higher.
SYNTHETIC VS NATURAL
Let’s take vitamin C. It is known that Vitamin C consists of six parts of carbon, eight hydrogen and six oxygen. Vit C can be extracted from foods such as citrus or tomatoes, but can be made much cheaper from coal tar products and basically all of the vitamin C sold today is of this synthetic variety. But are the two the same? Let me tell you about an experiment which was reported in the Russian medical journal called Vitamin Research News, No. 1,40,(1946) Mice were fed a deficient diet which is known to produce scurvy, and when it was apparent that they were all suffering from scurvy, they were divided into two groups and treated with Vitamin C which is known to cure scurvy. But one group was given the vitamin produced synthetically while the other group got vitamin C from a plant. The group that was fed on the natural vitamin C was completely cured within a short time. Those that were given the synthetic C were not.
Another experiment was published in a book called, “Food and Nutrition” (Cruickshank,1951) concerning Vitamin D. Three groups of chicks were fed on the same diet. The first group received no Vitamin D at all. The second group was given synthetic vitamin D and the third group received a natural Vitamin D from cod liver oil.
The chickens receiving no vitamins gained 250 grams of weight, the synthetic D group gained 346 grams, but the natural D group gained 399 grams. But here is the most important part of the experiment. In the no vitamin chicks, 60 % died. In the synthetic D group, 50% died. However, in the natural D group, there was not one death!
Another thing that sellers of synthetic vitamins don’t mention is that the polarity of the synthetic is opposite to the natural and has the opposite effect. Synthetic vitamins always refract light the opposite of the natural vitamin complexes. Though synthetics have the same molecular structure in that they have the same numbers and kinds of atoms, they are a mirror image of the natural and differ in their configuration. It’s a false imitation. A mirror image is the exact opposite of the real thing. Try to shake hands with yourself in the mirror. Everything is opposite. It is not an exact duplication. They are as different from each other as right and left handed gloves.
i Health Counselor 1991
ii Igram, p 12
iii Aging without Growing Old, Lindberg
iv Page DDS p 72
v The Real Truth about Vitamins and Antioxidants, Judith A. DeCava, MS, LNC