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Supplement Mania — Shedding Light on Vitamin D
Tossing back supplements is trendy, but the fads aren’t always backed by solid research. Besides, the trick is to get high-quality nutrients naturally from food.
Vitamin D has been snagging headlines recently. Apparently, plenty of Americans aren’t getting enough. Some studies show that as many of 50% of the elderly and women who are being treated for osteoporosis may be deficient in Vitamin D.
From what I have observed over the last year, I believe that Vitamin D was not routinely tested for by practitioners, until the gradual “focus on vitamin D” became a hot issue–and, subsequently, a huge business.
Interestingly, when the intense “focus on Vitamin D” first began not long ago, the messages were tame: “Some very small percentage of the population may need an intake of Vitamin D, mostly those living in regions with less sunshine.” The message was often followed by “first you should try to get out in the sun and eat food with some Vitamin D like fish“, and always followed by “please do not take Vitamin D on your own as it may be dangerous to take too much, get tested by a professional first, then get tested regularly after you start, because you may cause your level to be too high.”
What happened since? From those tame advices to today’s loud command of: “Thou shall take a ton of Vitamin D in order to survive“.
Today, regarding vitamin D, there is no valid long-term independent evidence to support supplementation, nor research that shows the safety in taking it in such large dose as per current recommendations.
The supplementation madness
Those of a certain age remember earlier vitamin C messages (which made moguls in the Sunshine State), followed by the multi-vitamin, and multi-mineral madness of the 70’s, how about the Vitamin E insanity of the 80’s, with its unfounded promises of solving all matter of joint, cardiovascular and even cancer problems? Off course we must take calcium and magnesium, iodine, iron, saw palmetto, beta-carotene, alpha lipoic acid, selenium. How about the CO Enzyme Q10, the baby aspirin, the B vitamins, let’s not forget B12, more recently the Omega 3, how about the all promising reservatol, and many more to come.
And now you should add Vitamin K !
To Supplement or Not?
My mentor Dr. Michael Kiriac, once told me that if one wanted to use “supplements” to maintain health, that one would have to take handful of pills all day long, and that even that, would not come close to matching the thousands of digestive enzymes, co-enzymes, hormones, and alkalizing juices that are synthesized each seconds by the cells of our pancreas. Imagine – this self-supplementation of biochemicals is ongoing in all internal glands, organs, lymphs, and ultimatly in each of our cells. In our current “so called scientific” era, we have been blinded in thinking that we can add “specialized” molecules of our choice to this mix.
We now know that health does not come in a pill. We know that we can achieve prevention of, and recovery from disease by applying health principles that are supportive to the cells of our body in their myriad of activities; osmosis of water and oxygen, synthesis of hormones, enzymes, and co-enzymes, regulation, repair, regeneration, detoxification and protection. This innate “self regulation” miracle takes place 24-7 in trillion cells of your body.
These health principles are:
- avoid overeating and eating after diner
- eating several small meals (fist size) instead of three large meals
- letting each meal’s chemistry complete before tossing another meal on top
- eating mostly plants, mostly greens and fruits, mostly raw
- exercising and staying active daily
- making water the beverage of choice and drinking some frequently
The famous saying “Let thy food be thy medicine” applies perfectly here. In essence our body is designed to derive the energy and all the necessary molecules for good health from sunlight, from the air we breathe, from the water we drink, and from the foods we eat. But instead, most people are influence by the powerful marketing machine of the supplement industry, and will not hesitate to ingest chemical substances called “supplement”. And in most cases, if they knew what they are made of, they would not put in the gas tank of their car.
This industry has become complex and blinding even to the experts. From hundreds of supplements available, results thousands of choices for the consumer. These supplements all vary in their regulations, ingredients, sources, mixes, labeling, quality, manufacturers, descriptions, and claims. At the rate that new molecules and their metabolic functionality are identified, like COQ10, alpha lipoic acid, selenium, etc, hundreds of supplements continue to be introduced annually in your health store, or on the Internet.
Synthetic Vs. Natural
After the beginning of the industrial revolution, researchers identified ways to replicate molecules of vitamins normally occurring in nature. With that the supplementation industry was born. Today many nutrients can be synthesized from substances ranging from corn syrup to coal tar. It is with these synthetics and the help of thousands of promotional articles published daily in hundreds of publications, newsletters and other media, that the multi billions dollars supplements industry capitalizes on the failure of the pharmaceuticals industry.
I propose next a few simple theory which I have confirmed in my own pursuit of health, and I know, many of you have, or would like to;
- nutrients left in their natural food are tremendously functional and non toxic
- nutrients isolated from their natural form are mostly inefficient and often toxic
- synthesized nutrients are greatly inefficient, often toxic and dangerous
- mega doses of synthesized and/or isolated nutrients are greatly inefficient, often toxic and dangerous (most supplements are taken in large dose; i.e. Vitamin C (actually ascorbic acid) is often taken in dose as large as 2,000 and 4,000 mg, while its is well known that the body needs only 60 mg per day which can be easily fulfilled with an orange, a quarter of a green pepper, etc.).
For the purpose of this article, I describe synthetic supplements as those concocted by man, usually composed of one or many of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants, phytonutrients, amino acids, etc., that are either made from chemicals, and/or that do not occur naturally with a whole food. Typically they are blends of isolate chemicals, or if from food, they are separates or extracts, their molecules are not complete and balanced with their original co-dependant molecules, as when they occur in the whole food. Most often they are taken in mega dose quantity much greater then our body can deal with, or tolerate. The bio-availability of synthetic supplements is either ZERO, or well below 80% that of naturally occurring nutrients, and often these supplements are toxic and dangerous for your health.
While natural nutrients, the “real / functional” ones are those that occur in their whole food natural state, complete in their complex family of co-dependent nutrients and micro-nutrients (known and unknown). Just like vitamin C in green pepper, the balance and synergy between its micro-nutrients cannot be duplicated and is indispensable for its proper assimilation, cellular absorption and utilization. NWhole food nutrients are the most efficient way to benefit our cells without causing toxicity or imbalance. Synthetic and isolated vitamins not only lack the supporting balance and synergy of natural nutrients, but often will cause metabolic imbalances.
Some scientist say that synthetic supplements have identical chemical structure as naturals do; that they are just as efficient. At one time most scientists believed the world to be flat. In the laboratory, chemists can duplicate sea water that looks chemically identical to natural sea water, but when fish are placed in this synthetic water they die. For decades now, common sense and research has casted doubt on the lack of biological activity of synthetic supplements. Isobel Jennings of Cambridge University says:
“ The synthetic supplements may look identical as naturally occurring (with the whole food) substances, or may appear closely related. The close relations, although useful in many ways, pose some problems in that they may have only a fraction, whether large or small, of the biological activity of the naturally occurring products… Synthetic vitamins may perform some of the functions of their naturally occurring counterparts while being useless in others. But what may be more important is the fact that synthetic vitamins, prepared from chemicals or separated from their natural state, are less active biologically than their naturally occurring counterparts, thereby reducing any beneficial effect they may have. ”
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