Supper is NOT Enough:
Vitamins are essential to human life.
Some are needed in small amounts, some even in micro amounts, others in
larger amounts dependent on each individual's needs, but the facts are that
without them we become sick or die.
Why We Need Food Supplements
by Eva Urbaniak, N.D.
The word vitamin was first coined by a Polish biochemist named Casimir Funk.
While working in London in 1912, he determined that the anti-beriberi factor
in rice hulls belonged to a class of chemical compounds called "amines."
He therefore named this factor "vitamine," which means "amine
essential to life." Later the "e" was dropped and the substances
came to be known as vitamins.
Of course, we get many of our vitamins from the foods we eat, some are
ingested or acquired in their precursor form, like beta-carotene to vitamin
A, or sunshine to vitamin D. But living and coping with our twentieth
century environment has put new demands on our physiology and there are
many solid reasons to take vitamins as a safe method of optimizing dietary
sources of nutrients. Some people take vitamins without even knowing why;
for example, a wife gives them to her husband with his meals. And regardless
of the fact that there are still many M.D.s out there who maintain that
vitamins, minerals and herbs are totally worthless, more and more informed
consumers and naturopathic physicians who are trained extensively in therapeutic
nutrition know differently.
The history of vitamin supplementation is fairly recent, corresponding
directly to our grand entrance into the industrial age, shifting away
from individual organic farming to mass agricultural production and consumption
on a mass scale. Refinement of flour, sugar and salt alone, has had a
tremendously negative impact on American health. In the "old days,"
meaning around the turn of the 20th century, people still used molasses
and honey to sweeten foods, they grew, ground and baked with their own
grains, and raised and slaughtered their own livestock. Today, we have
processed food, fast food, junk food, and a new food category called non-food.
Recent statistics show that the typical standard American diet (SAD) consists
of 40% white sugar and 35% saturated fat. Thus, we are considered the
most overfed yet undernourished country in the world! It is SAD indeed.
In 1990, the U.S. government dietary guidelines included 3 to 5 servings
daily of vegetables, 2 to 4 servings of fruit, 6 to 11 servings of grains,
(bread, pasta, rice, etc.) and 2 to 3 servings of protein (meat, fish,
eggs, poultry, or dried beans). A recent survey involving 21,500 people
followed for three days showed NOT ONE consumed 100% of the RDA for the
10 nutrients surveyed.
About the RDA
RDAs or recommended daily allowances were established about 50 years ago
"to provide for individual variations among most normal people as
they live in the USA under usual environmental stresses." In other
words, the RDA is a guideline by which to gauge amounts of nutrients necessary
for sustaining life without deficiency symptoms or deficiency disease,
meaning the minimum. Interesting to note that establishment of the RDA
transpired as a result of an increase of the deficiency diseases pellagra
and beriberi after flour had been being refined for a relatively short
time. It doesn't take long to become sick if the food that one eats is
totally lacking in any nutritional value other than calories. So it became
necessary to vitamin "enrich" the refined flour devoid of any
nutritive value. Unfortunately, flour producers never figured out a way
to replace the Vitamin E lost through the refinement process, the Vitamin
E that is contained in the wheat germ, and there is a direct correlation
with the loss of this precious nutrient and the astronomical increase
in heart disease in the US. RDAs were designed to prevent deficiency disease;
60 milligrams of Vitamin C to prevent scurvy, 1 to 1.5 mg. of Thiamine
to prevent beriberi, 13 to 19 mg. of Niacin to prevent pellagra. RDAs
do not consider nutrient amounts needed for giving optimal nutrition,
nor the action of certain vitamins to prolong life by preventing chronic
degenerative diseases. Several years ago, a new phrase was coined regarding
vitamin supplementation called the SONA, or Suggested Optimal Nutrient
Allowance. In spite of the substantiating evidence through research that
the RDAs are inadequate and in need of revision, that there is a need
to take supplements ABOVE the RDAs to protect against and even treat disease,
the concept of a SONA has apparently been shelved for the time being.
There are still no RDAs for many nutrients because of "insufficient
data." The nutrients are identified by an asterisk on the bottle
of supplements stating, "no RDA has been established."
Some reasons to supplement with vitamins are; food processing, sugar
and fat consumption, consumption of alcohol, smoking, taking medications,
dieting/calorie counting, varying individual needs, stress, food allergies,
and poor digestion, and many more. Vitamins are classified into two categories;
fat soluble, including Vitamins A,D, E, F,and K; and water soluble, containing
all the B Complex vitamins, and Vitamin C. Fat soluble vitamins are stored
in the liver and fatty tissues and water soluble vitamins are excreted
in the urine. Dosage is difficult to determine because of biochemical
individuality, health status of an individual, diet, physical activity,
and digestive capacity, which means the ability to absorb nutrients. Each
person is different and unique, so each person needs to gauge how he feels
before and after a certain supplement, giving a reasonable amount of time
like several weeks to give the body a chance to respond. Specifically,
some nutrients that would show a positive shift would be the B-vitamins,
giving increased energy, improvement of dry skin conditions, stopping
hair loss, and healing of cracks at the corners of the mouth. Skin texture
can also be noticeably improved by taking Beta-carotene and vitamin E.
Beta carotene has been shown to interfere with absorption of Vitamin E
so it is wise to take them separately. There are many tricks to getting
the most out of your supplements, however they are too numerous to mention
But a few more are:
Vitamin C enhances the absorption of Iron; inorganic, or ferric Iron oxidizes
Vitamin E in the intestines causing its inactivation so it should be taken
separately; Vitamin C is better absorbed in a natural citrus extract containing
bioflavonoids, proteins and carbohydrates than as synthetic ascorbic acid
alone, and Biotin deficiency can be caused by eating raw egg whites because
they inhibit absorption in the intestinal tract. Also, read the labels
on your supplement bottles. Some vitamins are grown on yeast. This could
be a problem for yeast sensitive people. Some of the cheaper vitamins
may have candy coatings, which contain artificial dyes, another common
allergen. It is best to choose high quality natural vitamins, and in the
case of sensitivity, look for labels that say hypoallergenic-contains
no yeast, wheat, corn etc.
There is now substantial long-term research that confirms there are many
conditions which can be treated, arrested, and even reversed by supplementation.
Reduction of cataracts and heart disease can be achieved by taking the
antioxidant vitamins, A, C, E, Beta-carotene and antioxidant minerals,
selenium, zinc, copper and manganese. Neural tube defects and cleft palate
can be prevented by adequate intake of folic acid. (Cigarette smoke, whether
primary or secondary, robs the body of Folic acid and Vitamin C.) A deficiency
of B-12 can manifest as memory loss, neurological or psychiatric disorders.
Pharmaceutical drugs and antibiotics can cause deficiencies of nutrients
such as B-12, folate, Vitamins K, B-2, in fact, the whole B-complex. Cortisone
depletes the body of Vitamin C, K, B-6, potassium and zinc. Aspirin causes
deficiency of eight vitamins and minerals including A, B-1, B-12, and
C, folic acid and calcium, iron and potassium. Side effects of some heart
medications and cancer drugs have been shown to sap nutrients and actually
cause more harm than good. A quote from a Newsweek article already several
years old reads as follows: "There may be excellent reasons to take
supplements. If today's hopes are realized mere vitamins and minerals
may have the power to cut some birth defects in half, protect the elderly
from bone loss and hip fractures, and dramatically reduce the incidence
of heart disease and cancer."
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