Vitamins, enzymes and minerals

Vitamins and enzymes are catalysts which enable body chemistry to function rapidly.

Supplementary vitamins pills and so-called “health powders” are entirely superfluous to a fit and healthy person on a correct diet an in fact may even cause the reverse effect.  They are “money down the drain”.

Vitamins derive their name because they are essential to life, but unlike enzymes, also essential, they cannot be manufactured from other chemicals within the body, they must be present in food. To make enzymes the body must be provided of course with the proper vitamins, minerals and amino acids.

Minerals are inert, and the body requires a wide range of them in its make-up. Apart from places here and there with soil deficiencies, adequate vitamins and minerals are to be found in natural food. Properly grown, organically grown foods could well be of higher quality than those grown with chemical fertilizers but the latter sustain people satisfactorily.

Food suffers depletion in nutrient value when cooked, processed or refined. When a processed food is described as "enriched" it merely means that having been almost destroyed in food value, some synthetic vitamins or minerals have been added to the remnants. Nutritional value lessens as food goes stale; best nutrition is gained by consuming food fresh and uncooked. Speaking on the subject of cancer, and referring specifically to the efficiency of the immune system, Dr Herbert Boynton of San Diego said in 1979 that by merely substituting proper food in place of fat, refined carbohydrate and excess protein, micro-nutrient intake can be increased 300-400%. As such fabulous results using no supplementary vitamins or minerals at all can be achieved merely by the elimination of the most dangerous food substances, and as in various dirty and poverty-stricken areas in the world the children run and play, bright-eyed and with flashing white teeth, it is apparent that the main threat of malnutrition to the world stems from the increasing adoption of Western dietary habits. And as we do not intend in future to subsist on cornflakes, coco-pops, meat pies, hamburgers and so on, I shall not carry on at length about vitamins except to mention a few that are harder to get or more easily destroyed.

Vitamin E

Blood fats, particularly polyunsaturated fats, become oxidized in the bloodstream and deplete blood oxygen. Vitamin E tends to prevent this process and many medical research doctors recommend large intakes of the vitamin because of the beneficial results they have observed. Dr Wilfred Shute of Canada has propounded the therapeutic value of Vitamin E for over 30 years and has written several convincing books about it.

Drs Manfred Steiner and John Anatase in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, March 1976, describe how doses of Vitamin E up to a maximum of 1800 iu per day reduced blood platelet aggregation by 40-50%. This subject was discussed in Chapter 10.

Dr Alton Ochsner, a leading US surgeon, recommends the use of Vitamin E and no longer uses anti-coagulants. Professor Cureton of the University of Illinois long ago demonstrated improved oxygen utilization by using wheat-germ oil.

Dr Lotz in the Medical Journal of Australia, 11 June 1977, described the alleviation of leg cramps by using Vitamin E.

These doctors describe results successful to different degrees, having used dosages sometimes varying enormously. However, all that their patients needed was to have the condition of their blood corrected by proper diet. Once this was done, the modest levels of Vitamin E (and other vitamins) available in natural food becomes entirely adequate.

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)

Vitamin C is probably the most talked about of all the vitamins, and probably the most critical in the lives of civilized people. Like Vitamin E, it is important to the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood, acts as a detoxifier of poisonous substances, and is essential to the integrity of the Protein substance, Collagen, which supports and holds together the cells of the various tissues. Vitamin C is essential to the function of the brain and nervous system and is needed in greatly increased amounts in conditions of any kind of stress, including illness.

It has been shown that a deficiency of Vitamin C renders the body more prone to atherosclerosis, cancer and all other metabolic diseases. Two of the obvious factors relating Vitamin C deficiency to atherosclerosis and cancer are the diminished integrity of the tissues of artery walls and other organs, in addition to diminished oxygen utilization in the body. Vitamin C neutralizes sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite contained in some kinds of processed meats, which chemicals have been shown to be potent carcinogens (cancer-causing agents). Vitamin C also facilitates the absorption of various essential minerals.

It is interesting that ascorbic acid is not a vitamin for most animals, because their bodies have the capacity to constantly manufacture it in varying amounts according to their current needs. Humans and the other primates, guinea pigs and certain fruit-eating bats, lack this capability and must rely on their diet for Vitamin C. Thus, in our "civilized" environment, and deprived of the Vitamin C-rich tropical fruits available to the more primitive primates (living instead on supermarket foods and cold-storage fruit and vegetables), it becomes apparent most people must be deficient in Vitamin C all the time, and it is doubtful whether and to what extent this deficiency can be made up by taking artificial supplements.

Vitamin C in food is perishable and becomes destroyed in long cold storage or when food is cooked, and to make things harder, it cannot be stored in the body, so must be always available in the diet.

There has been a great deal of confusion about the requirements for Vitamin C, much of it stemming from experiments aimed at the elimination of scurvy, whereby it was demonstrated that very small amounts only were needed to reverse or prevent the disease. Upon these findings it was concluded that only small amounts are needed for good health, and the authorities laid down the minimum daily requirement at only 60 mg.

In the light of what is now known of other body functions, it is clear that far greater amounts are required and that most people are suffering (albeit in apparent good health) a sub-clinical deficiency leading eventually to premature degeneration.

Comparing the amounts of Vitamin C found in the body tissues and blood of various animals, many researchers have concluded that adult humans require ideally up to 10,000 mg per day and when under stress perhaps even more. Their arguments are supported by quoting cases of dramatic improvements in very sick people who have been administered, sometimes by injection, large amounts of synthetic Vitamin C.

The writer once attempted to figure out the proper intake of Vitamin C for an adult on the basis of that contained in human milk, assuming that the milk of a well-nourished mother would contain optimal amounts. The information available varied widely. The British publication The Composition of Foods (H.M. Stationery Office) gives the Vitamin C content of human milk as only 3.7 mg per 100 gms, but this would appear a minimal amount. According to Dr Archie Kalokerinos, a world authority, much higher levels are desirable. He says: "If a nursing mother is deficient in Vitamin C her breast milk will be deficient. If the mother has plenty of Vitamin C then her breast milk will contain plenty. However, after a certain level (about 20 mg per 100 gs of milk) is reached, further increases in intake by the mother does not result in a proportional increase in the breast milk".

If it can be assumed that this latter figure is ideal, and if a baby's requirements are any indication of an adult's requirements, then it can be calculated that an adult diet of 2,070 calories should contain 600 mg of Vitamin C. However, this argument does not hold in the light of the fact I discovered, that a baby's requirements for Vitamin C are minimal because the physical activity of a young baby and the stress levels to which it may be subjected are minimal anyway and therefore not a good indication at all.

Whilst the official requirement for adults has been laid down by the US Food and Nutrition Board at 60 mg per day, it is interesting that the "Nutritional Requirements of Laboratory Animals" (National Academy of Science Committee on Animal Nutrition) recommends for monkeys 55 mg of ascorbic acid per kilogram of body weight per day, which equates to 3830 mg for the average adult human. The publication gives two diets for guinea pigs, one which allows a guinea pig 12.5 mg per day and another which gives 50 mg per day. Using a weight of 300 gs for a guinea pig and 70 kg for a human adult, these amounts equate to 2,900 mg and 11,700 mg for adult humans.

Dr Geoffrey Bourne, of the Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center in Atlanta, stated that an adult gorilla in the wild consumes about 4,500 mg of ascorbic acid a day, and Dr Linus Pauling, one the most informed person on the subject in the world, having taken all these arguments into consideration, concluded the optimal daily intake for human adults to be in the range between 2,300 mg and 9,000 mg, depending on levels of activity and stress.

Dr Pauling tested the amount of Vitamin C contained in over one hundred natural plant foods and deduced that a 2,500 calorie diet of an average cross-section of these foods would provide 2,300 mg of Vitamin C. If the foods richest in Vitamin C were chosen, then 9,400 mg would be provided.

Thus it can be seen that whereas the other vitamins don't present much of a problem, how do you know whether your diet is adequate in Vitamin C' How do you know if an orange was properly grown or how old it is? In fact comparison tables show that even good oranges don't contain great amounts of Vitamin C. Certain tropical fruits such as Acerola cherries, Peruvian camu camu and guavas, may contain up to 30 times more Vitamin C than good oranges, whereas pineapples, mangoes and bananas contain relatively little. From the foods available in temperate climates the best sources of Vitamin C are leafy green vegetables, tomatoes, berries, peppers, strawberries, cauliflower and citrus fruits, preferably, of course, eaten raw.

It is significant that the tropical fruits as a rule contain the highest levels of Vitamin C and that in temperate climates the summer fruits such as blackcurrants, gooseberries, strawberries, raspberries and tomatoes are the best available sources. Potatoes contain a little, but if sufficient of them are consumed, reasonable amounts of the vitamin are available. Cherries, plums, grapes, pears, apples, carrots, lettuce and celery contain very little Vitamin C.

Supplementary Vitamin C. It would seem advisable, unless extreme care is taken in selecting food, that benefit would be gained by people in temperate to cold climates in taking supplementary ascorbic acid. Always remember however, that in Nature all nutrients are accompanied by many others, such as the bioflavinoids, and that any artificial food substance can be regarded, at best, as second-rate.

Incidentally, Irwin Stone, who felt that synthetic Vitamin C was superior (there is no doubt he observed it achieve much good), and who took large amounts of it for many years, died recently, aged 75, of a heart attack. He had always indulged in the Western diet, claiming that Vitamin C fully protected him. Like Dr Wilfred Shute, who placed similar reliance on the protective powers of Vitamin E, he paid the standard price for his ignorance of Nature's eternal laws.

Vitamin B12

Herbivorous animals produce Vitamin B12 in their bodies and it is commonly thought that the human diet should include at least a little animal protein to supply this vitamin. Only minute amounts (one millionth of one gram per day) are required, and normal body stores are adequate for at least five years. It appears that Vitamin B12 can be synthesized in the human digestive tract as in other animals, but one way or another there is ample evidence that pure vegetarians maintain normal levels and good health indefinitely on a diet apparently devoid of Vitamin B12.

   Dr Richard Bargen (USA) in his book The Vegetarian's Self-Defense Manual (1979) says: "After careful review of all the literature often quoted as demonstrating 'pure' vegetarians often suffer Vitamin B12 deficiency because of inadequate dietary intake, not one solitary case was found wherein a vegan consuming an adequate, purely plant food diet suffered any ill health due to Vitamin B12 deficiency or any other deficiency. This finding contradicts the statements made in virtually every textbook of medicine and nutrition I've ever come across".

   Pernicious anemia can afflict meat-eaters as well as vegetarians and the disease may be corrected by Vitamin B12 injections. Thus it is shown that the anemia is caused not by lack of B12 in the diet, but by the body's inability to utilize it, the problem sometimes arising from deficiencies of other nutrients such as folacin, iron and Vitamin B6.

Vitamin supplements and megavitamin therapy

   Similar observations can be made of other vitamins and minerals. Obviously if a person's diet is deficient in them, he will benefit by proper amounts taken supplementary. A friend of mine swears by the efficacy of large doses of B complex vitamins taken before, during and after a big night out to replace those destroyed by alcohol. All refined carbohydrates use body stores of Vitamin B1 (thiamine) and many people are doubtless deficient in it a lot of the time with consequent thyroid malfunction.

   It is recognized that there probably are many vital foods factors still to be identified, and that in order to ensure we are not deprived of them, it is advisable to consume natural foods preferably uncooked and unprocessed.

   Administering large does of vitamins in excess of normal requirements in an effort to improve a sick person's condition is called "megavitamin therapy".

   The book Supernutrition by Richard Passwater insists that large doses of certain vitamins and minerals will lead to optimum levels of body chemistry. I don't doubt that they sometimes help, but there is evidence that in some cases some supplements cause actual harm in the body.

   Selling synthetic vitamins is profitable and is big business, and it is very dubious whether the consumer in most cases achieves anything other than processing very expensive urine. Choice magazine in Australia reported in May 1984 that most vitamin preparations available were extremely overpriced and many consisted of between 50% and 71 % sugar. They were colored with artificial chemicals and some contained undesirable levels of sodium.

   Optimum levels of body chemistry can be achieved only by first eliminating poisoning factors from the diet. Vitamins by the cartload cannot rectify the condition of "lipotoxemia". So in all cases the remedy is to clear the toxic condition of the blood and permit the body chemistry to return to normal of its own accord, nourished by a wholesome natural diet.

VEGETARIAN, ken laming, kenneth laming, frugan, health, fresh food, raw food, famous vegetarian, vegan, nutrition, fitness,

VEGETARIAN, ken laming, kenneth laming, frugan, health, fresh food, raw food, famous vegetarian, vegan, nutrition, fitness,