The Vitamin Controversy: Debunking the Debate

Aug 14


Tom Gruber

Tom Gruber

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The debate over vitamins still rages. Do we really them? Are synthetics just as good as natural? Which vitamins and minerals do we need? What's the proper dosage? Which brands are best? Tom Gruber debunks the debate with authoritative answers.

Ever since I became an independent distributor of vitamins,The Vitamin Controversy: Debunking the Debate Articles friends and acquaintances have been looking up to me as an expert in the field of nutrition. It's one thing to understand a matter well enough to be convinced of it's truth yourself. This I have done by becoming an avid reader. But it's a horse of a different color to equip oneself to explain those truths to others persuasively and authoritatively, in simple layman's language. This is especially true when it comes to a subject as complex as vitamins because there exists a shroud of confusion and misinformation surrounding this controversial topic.

There are four reoccurring questions that people ask over and over again:

1. If I eat properly, why can't I get all the vitamins and minerals my body needs from my diet alone?

2. Are synthetic vitamins as good as all-natural vitamins?

3. Which vitamins and minerals should I take and in what quantities?

4. With all the multi-vitamin supplements on the market today, how do I know which brand is the best?These questions are both complex and important. So let me address them one at a time.

Question #1:

If I eat properly, why can't I get all the vitamins and minerals my body needs from my diet alone?My Answer:

My answer is yes, "if" you were to eat properly, you would get all the vitamins and minerals from your diet alone and therefore you would not need to supplement your diet. But that's a very big "if" because we don't live in The Garden of Eden. That's like saying, "I would not need car insurance 'if' I never got into an automobile accident." (Actually you would still need car insurance because it's illegal to drive without it.) Vitamins are like insurance; quality vitamins taken in proper dosages prevent illness and insure wellness.

The biggest culprit is the way our foods are processed. Numerous studies conclude that the nutritional content of many food products found in our supermarkets is a small fraction of what it should be. Organic foods are much more nutritious, but also more expensive, which makes them cost-prohibitive for many people. It's becoming increasingly difficult in today's fast-paced society to get everything we need to nutritionally support our bodies from our diet alone. Therefore, taking a quality nutritional supplement is critically essential for most of us.

Question #2:

Are synthetic vitamins as good as all-natural vitamins?My Answer: Some claim that synthetic vitamins are just as good as all-natural vitamins made from whole-food sources. Of course, the manufacturers of synthetic vitamins want you to believe this, while distributors of natural vitamins (like myself) do not. Both sides have an agenda. If synthetic vitamins really are just as good as natural vitamins, there is no logical reason to take natural vitamins because synthetic vitamins are much cheaper.

Since I am a distributor of natural vitamins, you might assume that I am biased. Nevertheless, I sincerely believe the weight of evidence is on my side. Numerous studies conclude that synthetic vitamins are simply not as effective. In fact, they may even be dangerous.

Whether or not science has been able to fully duplicate vitamins in the lab is still open for debate. Some say yes, some say no. But there's more to the debate than that. An important consideration that many have overlooked is simply this:

In order for vitamins to work properly, they must work together with several other components, i.e. enzymes, co-enzymes, and cofactors. Otherwise, they simply will not produce nature's intended effects in our bodies. Vitamins, therefore, are not solitary components that act on their own.

When we get our vitamins from a whole food source, such as an organic fruit or vegetable, or a whole food vitamin supplement, all the necessary components are already there. The problem with synthetic vitamins is that they only contain isolated portions of the vitamins that are found naturally in organic foods. Tragically, the vast majority of vitamins on the market are synthetic.

Consider synthetic Vitamin C as a prime example. Think of Vitamin C as an orange. Most Vitamin C supplements contain only Ascorbic Acid or a compound called Ascorbate. Ascorbic Acid is simply a protective shell for the entire Vitamin C complex. To say Ascorbic Acid is Vitamin C is a half-truth. It's almost like saying an orange peel is the same thing as an orange. When we get our Vitamin C from quality oranges or other whole foods, we not only get Ascorbic Acid, we also get these other essential components: Rutin, Bioflavonoids, Factor K, Factor J, Factor P, Tyrosinase, and Ascorbinogen. So here's the problem with synthetic Vitamin C. Since a synthetic Vitamin C product only contains Ascorbic Acid, your body must gather Rutin, Bioflavonoids, Factor K, Factor J, Factor P, Tyrosinase, and Ascorbinogen from your body’s tissues in order to make use of it. And what happens if your body does not have adequate reserves of these other components? The Ascorbic Acid all by itself does not provide any of the health benefits that the full Vitamin C complex does. After circulating through your system, the unused Ascorbic Acid is eliminated through your urine. So it is essentially true that paying for vitamins is like paying for expensive urine - but that ONLY applies to synthetic vitamins, NOT to All-Natural Whole-Food vitamins.

Most of the other vitamins also need enzymes, co-enzymes, co-factors, and even minerals to obtain their full health benefits. Vitamin D has twelve different active components. Vitamin E needs the mineral Selenium to produce anti-oxidative effects.

The Dangers of Synthetic VitaminsIt's one thing to say synthetic vitamins are inadequate. It's quite another to claim they may be dangerous. After all, certainly a dangerous vitamin supplement couldn't legally be sold in a store or over the internet, could it? According to a May 2004 Consumer Report investigation, "many dangerous supplements can easily be purchased in stores and online."But isn't the FDA there to protect us?According to Bruce Silverglade, legal director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer-advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.:

“The standards for demonstrating a supplement is hazardous are so high that it can take the FDA years to build a case. ” Nevertheless, many dangerous side effects of synthetic vitamins have been well-documented. Allow me to cite just a few.

Two Independent Studies Conclude: Taking Synthetic Vitamins is Worse Than StarvationTwo independent studies on synthetic vitamins both reached the conclusion that taking synthetic vitamins is worse than starvation. One was a recent Finnish study published in the New England Journal of Medicine; the other was the result of experiments performed at the University of California in Berkley.

Why Silver Foxes Don't Take Synthetic VitaminsAs early as 1940, a Scandinavian Veterinarian Journal detailed a vitamin experiment performed on Silver Foxes. The first group was fed synthetic Vitamin B while the second group was given all-natural sources of B complex. Three things happened to the first group:

1) They did not grow.

2) The quality of their fur deteriorated. And

3) they died prematurely.

(The Scandinavian Veterinarian Journal, 1940, Volume 30.)Meanwhile, everything was normal with the second group.

Synthetic Vitamin D Causes Complications In PregnancyAnother report involved synthetic Vitamin D and human pregnancy. Vitamin D was given to 500 pregnant women. Some were given synthetic Vitamin D, others were given natural Vitamin D. All the women given synthetic Vitamin D developed diseased kidneys. None of the women given natural Vitamin D had any problems with their kidneys.

( Dr. Weston A. Prince, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.)

Synthetic Vitamin B Causes Sterility in PigsAnother report involved pigs and Vitamin B. This study was done clear back in 1939. The first group of pigs was fed synthetic Vitamin B. The second group was fed natural Vitamin B. All of the offspring from the pigs fed synthetic Vitamin B were sterile. None of the offspring from the parents fed natural Vitamin B were sterile. (Study by Dr. Barnett Sure, Jol. Nurt., Aug., 1939)So unless you're a nutritional masochist, getting your nutrients from whole food sources is your best option because whole foods provide complete vitamins and minerals rather than fractions of them. Question #3: Which vitamins and minerals should I take and in what quantities?My Answer:

Your body needs everything from A to Zinc. Here are five examples:

1. Vitamin A is important for healthy vision, bone growth, reproduction, cell division, and more. It also helps regulate our immune system.

2. The Vitamin B-Complex Group is responsible for providing energy to your body. The B Vitamins are required for the metabolism of fats and proteins, as well as the health and maintenance of the body's nervous system.

3. Vitamin C provides health benefits to many parts of the body: skin, teeth, bones, adrenal glands, pituitary, the brain, spleen, lungs, lymph nodes, liver, thyroid, pancreas, kidneys, salivary glands, and much more. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant.

A deficiency of Vitamin C can result in acute scurvy, which is characterized by easy bruising, loose teeth, superficial bleeding, fragility of blood vessels, poor healing, compromised immunity, and mild anemia.

4. Calcium is essential in muscle contraction, building strong bones and teeth, blood clotting, nerve impulse transmission, regulating heartbeat, and fluid balance within cells. According to "Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Calcium" (March 03, 2006), between 50 percent to 75 percent of adults living in the USA are calcium deficient.

Zinc is an essential mineral found in almost every cell. It stimulates the activity of approximately 100 enzymes, which are substances that promote biochemical reactions in your body. Zinc supports a healthy immune system and is needed for the healing of wounds. Zinc also helps maintain your sense of taste and smell, and it is needed for DNA synthesis. Zinc also supports normal growth and development during pregnancy, childhood, and adolescence. How many vitamins and minerals do we need?Humans require thirteen vitamins: Vitamins A, C, D, E and K, and eight B vitamins. As for minerals, we need the following bulk minerals:

Calcium, Chlorine, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium, and Sulfur.

The most important trace mineral elements are:

Chromium, Cobalt, Copper, Fluorine, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Selenium, and Zinc.

Many other minerals have been suggested as required in human nutrition, such as Boron, Nickel, Silicon, Tungsten, and Vanadium.

What dosage is best?Knowing how much of a particular vitamin or mineral to take is usually as simple as reading the label. Recommended Daily Allowances (RDAs) were established by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council. The RDA states the amount of a nutrient that is needed for most people to stay healthy. Question #4: With all the multi-vitamin supplements on the market today, how do I know which brand is the best?My Answer:

Although there are many multi-vitamin supplements on the market today, we've already established essential criteria in making a wise selection.

1. Choose a vitamin and mineral supplement that is All-Natural and made from Whole-Food sources. Since the vast majority of vitamins are synthetic, this one step alone narrows your search considerably.

2. Choose a vitamin and mineral supplement that has all the vitamins and minerals your body needs in one bottle. Buying a bottle of this and a bottle of that can easily become extremely cost prohibitive.

3. Check the Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA) . Make sure a daily serving contains 100% of the RDA whenever established.

4. Make sure the minerals are chelated. Chelated minerals are easier for your body to absorb.

5. Make sure your vitamins contain probiotics and enzymes. This will insure that your body is digesting food properly. A high-quality multi-vitamin supplement that meets these criteria, accompanied by a healthy diet and proper exercise, will insure optimal health. Isn't your health worth it?

[DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed herein are my own, although they have been compiled over the years from my research through books and articles. My opinions should not be considered as medical advice to treat or cure any diseases or illnesses. For these matters, consult a qualified professional.]

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