Do we need to pop those vitamin pills?
Vitamins seem to be so good for everything. The newly born needs them to grow properly; women take them to be happy; men use them to maintain or increase potency; athletes ingest them to stay fit; and older people take them to become younger or to avoid the flu. Even foods are categorized into good and bad, depending on how many or few many vitamins they contain. Ever since vitamins were produced synthetically they were made available in every drugstore or health shop around the world. Now you don’t have to eat all that vitamin-rich food anymore to stay healthy, all you need is to pop in a couple of those essential vitamin pills a day, or so the advertisements tell you. But if you don’t pay heed to this advice, you are told that you may become vitamin deficient and put your health at risk.
And so we act obediently, out of fear of risking our lives. If you feel tired or suffer from lack of concentration (which could be due to lack of sleep or overeating), you may be prescribed vitamin B pills. Then there is vitamin C if you catch a cold (which could result from stress, working too hard or eating too much junk food). Vitamin E, you are told, helps you prevent a heart attack (so you may no longer need to watch out for the true risk factors of heart disease). Accordingly, we spend billions of dollars on vitamin pills each year to fight off every kind of ill from the common cold to cancer.
Nowadays, artificial vitamins are added to almost every processed food – not because they are so good for you, but because foods that are “enriched” sell better. Cereals, bread, milk, yoghurt, boiled sweets, even dog food with added vitamins leave the supermarket shelves much faster than do those without them. Smokers, meat eaters, sugar addicts, or people who drink too much alcohol can now continue enjoying their self-destructing habits without having to fear the dreaded vitamin deficiency, thanks to the blessed food industry. The magic food supplements have become an insurance policy against poor diet, and nobody has to feel guilty anymore over eating junk food. And on top of that, scientific research suggests that taking large doses of supplements may protect you against disease, even though there is no real evidence to support that claim. As seen in the sales figures, the public believes that the more vitamins you take, the healthier you get.
But are vitamins really so good for your health? Despite the massive amounts of vitamins consumed in modern societies, general health is declining everywhere, except in those countries that still rely mostly on fresh farmed foods. Could the mass consumption of vitamins be even co-responsible for this trend?
Sodium and water are essential to maintain sodium levels and hydrate the body, but too much of either can seriously upset the body’s electrolyte balance. Overconsumption of vitamin A, for example, can cause loss of hair, double vision, headaches, and vomiting in women, all indications of vitamin poisoning. If a woman is pregnant, the supplement can even harm her unborn baby. As we will see, vitamins can even endanger a person’s life.
Vitamin Deficiency – Or Something Else?
In the beginning of the 17th century, Japan was afflicted with a disease, called beriberi, which killed many people. By the year 1860, over one third of Japan’s marines had fallen ill with symptoms of weight loss, frequent heart complaints, loss of appetite, irritability, burning sensations in the feet, lack of concentration, and depression. The symptoms quickly disappeared whenever rice, Japan’s most important staple food, was replaced with other foods.
Thirty years later the Dutch physician Christiaan Eijkman conducted an experiment feeding chicken with white rice. The chicken developed symptoms such as loss of weight, weakness, and signs of nerve infection, which Eijkman interpreted as being beriberi. The symptoms disappeared again when the chicken were fed with brown rice. Soon later Eijkman discovered a few, previously unknown substances within the bran of the whole rice; one of them was named B1. This initiated the era of vitamins.
But, as it turned out, beriberi wasn’t caused by vitamin B1 deficiency. People no longer suffered from beriberi once they discontinued eating rice altogether. It should have been noticed from the beginning that, with “no rice – no vitamin B1 – no beriberi,” the disease must have had other causes than vitamin deficiency. Japanese marine soldiers died within three days after consuming white rice, yet it takes much longer than that to get a B1 deficiency. The origin of this mysterious disease was revealed when in 1891 a Japanese researcher discovered that beriberi is caused by the poison citreoviridine. Citreoviridine is produced by mold in white rice that is stored in filthy and humid environments.
Yet until today, the vitamin B1-beriberi-hypothesis is still maintained in medical text books around the world. Although it has never been proved that a B1 deficiency causes such symptoms as fatigue, loss of appetite, exhaustion, depression, irritability, and nerve damage, many patients having these symptoms are told that they have a vitamin-B deficiency. During vitamin B1 trial studies, all the participants complained about the highly monotonous diet they were given; they suffered fatigue and loss of appetite, regardless of whether they received B1 in their diet or not. As soon as they returned to their normal diet, even without B1, the symptoms spontaneously disappeared.
Another B-vitamin is nicotinic acid or also known as niacin. It has become very popular and is now routinely added to many foods. Niacin is supposed to safeguard us against diarrhea, dementia, and the skin disease pellagra. Pellagra is more widespread among people who eat maize, though not everyone who eats maize gets pellagra. Pellagra was found to be caused by food poisoning through spoiled maize. The poison involved has been identified as T2-toxine and is known to disturb niacin metabolism, thus producing pellagra. Besides the great importance given to taking extra niacin today this substance is not really a vitamin at all since it can be produced by the body itself.
Nobody Knows How Much You Need
Governments and international organizations such as the WHO frequently release figures that propose a Daily Ratio of Allowance (DRA) for every vitamin that you supposedly need to stay healthy. The nutritional experts in different countries however, have different opinions about how much of each vitamin your body must have. An American, for example, is supposed to take at least 60mg of vitamin C, whereas a British citizen is considered better off taking only 30mg. A Frenchman can only remain healthy if he consumes 80mg of this vitamin whereas Italians are told they need 45mg. These figures are “adjusted” every few years, although our bodies’ basic nutritional requirements have not changed over the past several thousand years.
Nobody really knows how many vitamins are good for us because the requirements, constitutions, and absorption rates for vitamins differ from person to person. Vitamins need to be digested before they can be made available to the cells and tissues. Once a person’s the digestive ability (AGNI) has diminished due to congestion of liver bile ducts with intrahepatic stones, for example, foods and even vitamins can no longer be digested properly.
When scientists calculate our vitamin requirements, they usually add a 50 percent “safety factor” to the original figures to make certain that we eat enough of them. And because vitamin extraction from food during the digestive process is so much less than 100 percent, these figures are increased one more time. The official methods of analyzing the amount of vitamins we require are inadequate because we simply do not know how much of each vitamin the human physiology needs. The thin, hyper-metabolic Vata body type, for example, may have a far greater need for vitamin B-6 than the heavier-set, hypo-metabolic Kapha type who can never really run out of it.
It is also not known how much of each vitamin is contained in a banana, an apple or a junk of cauliflower. Vitamin contents fluctuate greatly with the size of the fruits, their maturity, the condition of the soil, country of origin, time of harvesting, and the use of pesticides. How many of the vitamins contained in these foods actually end up being utilized by the body depends on the digestive capacity and body-type. All this makes official nutritional figures highly unreliable and speculative.
The vitamin theories originate in the assumption that the human physiology has stores for vitamins that always must be full up in order to saturate the tissues of the body. This assumption, however, has never been proven by scientific research. While calculating human vitamin requirements, nutritional science assumes that the body’s metabolic processes take place at a top speed, which would require plenty of vitamins. Our bodies, however, are not machines that run at top capacity day and night. Most of us are not marathon runners, and even they don’t run for 24 hour’s day after day, month after month, and year after year.
It is very questionable whether the saturation of our body tissues with vitamins is even desirable. We need a certain amount of fatty tissue in our body, but this does not mean we should all be excessively filled with fat. Oxygen, too, is considered vital for all our body’s functioning, yet if its concentration in the air is consistently too high it can cause serious bodily harm. Why should vitamins be an exception? And anyway, vitamin deficiency is…
Rarely Caused by Lack of Vitamins
In the majority of cases, a vitamin deficiency does not occur because of insufficient vitamin intake in the diet. A vitamin deficiency is rather caused by a congested capillary network that is unable to diffuse sufficient amounts of the vitamins into the intercellular fluids. This can have a number of reasons, overeating protein foods being one of the major ones.
A diet rich in protein foods, such as meat, fish, pork, cheese, milk, etc., will eventually block the basal membrane (BM) of the small and large blood vessels in the body (see The Key to Health and Rejuvenation, chapter 9 on heart disease). Stress, over-stimulation, and dehydration can have a similar effect. The subsequent thickening of the BM and connective tissues makes it increasingly difficult for the basic nutrients, including vitamins, to reach the cells. If trans-fatty acids are consumed, as contained in most processed and refined fats, oils and fast foods, cell membranes become thick and congested, thereby preventing nutrients from reaching the cell interior. All this greatly increases the amount of metabolic waste and toxins in the body, overtaxes the liver, and causes the growth of gallstones. The gallstones inhibit the flow of bile, which subdues AGNI, the digestive power and increasingly hinders the assimilation of nutrients, including fats. When fats are no longer properly digested, the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K, which are normally stored in the liver, become deficient. This problem becomes exacerbated by eating low fat foods (see The Key to Health and Rejuvenation, chapter 14).
If vitamin A becomes deficient, for example, the epithelial cells, which form an essential part of all the organs, blood vessels, lymph vessels, etc., in the body, become damaged. This can literally cause any kind of disease. Vitamin A is also necessary to maintain the cornea of the eye, allow for eyesight in dim light, and reduce the severity of microbial infection. Vitamin A is only absorbed from the small intestines properly when fat absorption is normal. Fat absorption cannot be normal as long as gallstones obstruct the bile flow in the liver and gallbladder. It is, therefore, very sensible to remove the gallstones and cleanse the digestive system so that the vitamins contained in food you eat can actually reach the cells in your body.
Taking extra vitamins can be harmful if the body is unable to make use of them and is given the additional burden of having to break them down or try eliminating them from the system. Because vitamins are strong acids, an overload can lead to vitamin poisoning (vitaminosis) and thus damage the kidneys, and actually cause the same symptoms that accompany a vitamin deficiency. Instead of filling the body up with large doses of vitamins it cannot even process properly, it would be more healthful and efficient to cleanse the body from accumulated toxins, stored proteins in the blood vessel walls, and impeding gallstones from the liver. Although taking mega doses of vitamins may temporarily increase the pressure of diffusion of these nutrients for a short time and quickly relieve symptoms, the “benefits” are often short-lived. If digestive functions are impaired, taking extra vitamins may actually endanger your health.
Contrary to popular belief, vitamins do not have isolated functions, but are work as a “team” in the body. If taken in supplemental form, versus from food, may be counter productive as excess of one vitamin can have a suppressing effect on another. When isolated and extracted from foods, vitamins arouse your nervous system should you take them. Feeling stimulated, and therefore energized, you naturally assume these vitamins must be doing you good. But stimulants never give you extra energy, they force the body to spend and give up energy.
The best source of healthy vitamins is fresh fruit, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, etc. Fruits and vegetables also contain important health-essential nutrients known as phytochemicals -nature’s food coloring agents. They are what gives them their color. To obtain vitamin D, the best and cheapest source is sunlight. B12 is produced from microbes living in your mouth and gut.