very critical about taking supplements. For sure it is difficult in these
days to have a 'balanced diet' which provides all vitamins and minerals
that one need. To succeed one has to be extremely conscious about every
detail and this is hardly possible, especially with people on the fast
lane, were food is an inevitable effort. Even people who are conscious
about what they eat and who are selective can't avoid that food contains
substances which are damaging the system or that there is a lack of elements.
So if there occurs a deficiency with a disease as a result then supplements
seem to be indicated, but - as a healing mean and not as a permanent solution
for poor food or eating habits. Here in Spain supplements are handled by
law like medication and I think this is right. In the first place one has
to care that one's alimentation is as complex as possible, avoiding most
of the things which are offered to consumers and then trying to get as
much fresh vegetables and fruits as possible and if there is the space
then producing at least some fresh stuff oneself. If there is no other
way then in a flower pot in one's window, germinating seeds, etc. There
is given enough information how to do it in a very simple way and efficient
enough not to depend on supplements in form of pills and capsules.
It is indispensable
to point out that taking supplements is the same as taking medication.
The most significant in this is one's attitude. To stay healthy or to be
healed is a process which needs one's full awareness and this for sure
is not given by taking pills. The supplement might be efficient and the
symptoms might disappear, but if one depends then on the supplement there
will develop another disease, maybe on another level or in the next generation.
I understand disease as part of one's healing process and this includes
the growing of one's consciousness and awareness. If this is not part of
the healing then supplements will not do good on the long run... (Apart
of that the 'supplement business' is not so different than the pharmacy
business, one can't proof what really the effect is and from my own experience
I can say that most of the sold supplements so called 'miracle formulas'
have no effect at all, except giving the feeling of having done something
good for oneself, but at least these don't have those side effects of pharmaceutic
To prevent a deficiency
one can take beside one's balanced diet some natural things for example
not only prevent from disease but also can cure. I have taken for about
twenty years every day Kefir and Kombucha and I had worked up to twenty
hours daily for several years and in good health. For twenty years I went
every morning ten minutes passing the forest to the neighbor who had cows
to buy some fresh milk for the Kefir. Then one day he couldn't sell anymore
milk to me because the company who bought all the milk from this farmer
didn't allow to sell milk to others. So I quit making Kefir. About the
same time when I went for a journey the caretaker of my Kombucha had not
fed it and so it didn't survive. From then on I didn't take Kefir and not
Kombucha. One year later the first symptoms of my Fibromyalgia started...
Use of nutritional
Many people are using
nutritional supplements to improve general health and for treating a specific
disease. One would think that eating a balanced diet should provide all
the vitamins and minerals that one needs, but in practice this is not the
case. There are many factors that can effect our vitamin and mineral intake.
First it is very hard to determine what exactly is a balanced diet, as
there is great variation in recommendations from many 'expert' sources,
for more information about this see the Alimentation
page. There are also other aspects besides our diet that can affect our
nutrient intake such as: genetics, environment,
practices, stress levels and your
health history. Determining what is the correct Recommended
Dietary Allowances (RDAs) of nutrients we need is difficult given
that most information available is based on research studies that have
been funded by corporate multinationals, where money is the main interest...
Supplements can enhance a healthy diet but they are not a substitute for
it. One can't continue on a highly processed diet and think that one is
healthy just because one takes supplements... A comprehensive approach
to good health includes practices that aid in stress management, regular
exercise and proper diet.
Throughout all species
there is wide variation in genetic makeup. This variation includes differing
abilities to survive in a given nutritional environment. In other words,
to survive well, one animal may require much more or less of particular
nutrients than another animal. Dr. Roger Williams has shown in experiments
with rats that after five generations of inbreeding, litter mates, which
are very close genetically, can vary in nutrient needs up to 40 times for
particular nutrients. In other words, one may need 2.5 mg. of pantothenic
acid (vitamin B5) and another may need 100 mg for the same level of vitality,
physical endurance and life span. There is an even greater variation in
human beings, as we have a greater genetic diversity than other species.
There have been studies that show that blood type and geographical location
can be determinants of which types of foods are needed on an individual
In the natural course
of events, species evolve when those animals with greater nutritional needs
fail to survive or to reproduce as well as those with lesser needs. Except
in a few known genetic disorders, we cannot determine subtle variations
in nutritional needs for human beings. It is therefore wise to make sure
that our internal environment (including all cells, tissues and organs)
are abundantly supplied with all the nutrients. In tissue cultures (cells
growing in laboratories) the culture medium is made quite rich in all the
required nutrients. If the cells were only given minimum requirements,
some cells would not thrive and researchers would risk losing the cell
line. In human beings the blood plasma provides nourishment for the cells,
and needs a constant and abundant supply of all the nutrients. This requires
both a healthy diet and some times supplements.
reality of our world is one of increasing toxicity in our food, water and
air supplies, as well as being exposed to external toxic materials in dental
fillings, aluminum cookware, buildings and in personal care products. This
increasing toxic burden stresses our capacity to detoxify our body and
most likely exacerbates most health problems, or is a significant factor
in causing them. Just in the air that we breathe we are exposed to many
toxins, including: carbon monoxide, lead from fuel exhaust, hydrocarbon
pollutants from industrial waste, byproducts from burning of fossil fuels
is rare to find water that is pure these days, it is often contaminated
with toxic heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, fluoride, chlorine, industrial
chemical wastes, pesticides and herbicides.
Exposure to pollutants
leads to an increase of high-energy molecular fragments known as free
radicals . These free radicals can severely damage tissues, destroy
nutrients, and lead to premature aging, heart disease and cancer. All of
these environmental problems increase the need for nutrients, antioxidant
supplements can help control the damage of toxic exposures and help to
remove excessive free radicals.
practices have adversely affected the quality of our food supply. Growing
foods with methods designed to increase quantity, or to facilitate transportation
and storage is often detrimental to their nutritional value. Nutritional
value is rarely considered when developers play with the genetics of plants
or soil modifications. To find out more about the main producers of agricultural
products, see the web site: What
are we swallowing.
Soil quality has been
degraded through modern farming methods. Most chemical fertilizers do not
replace all of the minerals needed for human nutrition. Organic foods have
been shown to have a higher nutritional value than conventionally grown
foods. They are also free of the pesticides, herbicides and thousands of
other risky chemicals that are added to foods during processing. There
is also wide variation in the natural mineral content of the soil. For
example, in northeastern united states (and elsewhere) the soil has a very
low selenium content. Selenium is important for protection from heart disease
and cancer. In spite of a diet that includes foods from many geographic
areas, research has shown that people living in regions with low soil selenium
have a higher risk of cancer. Although selenium, as well as chromium and
iodine, are essential for human nutrition, they are not required for growing
healthy plants. They are rarely added to the soil for agricultural purposes.
Foods are often picked
before they are ripe and allowed to ripen in transit, at the market or
during home storage. They do not acquire their full complement of minerals
and vitamins, which frequently increase greatly during the later stages
of growth. In addition, transportation and storage of foods, whether in
the market or at home, allows time for nutrients to deteriorate. Fruits
and vegetables can lose significant amounts of vitamin C after 3 days in
cold storage, and even more at room temperature. Dried fruits can also
lose vitamins A, C and E if exposed to oxygen and light. This is not to
say that stored foods are of no value, but the lower nutrient content increases
the importance of taking supplements.
We can overcome some
of these problems if we grow our own food or buy organically grown fruits
and vegetables (which are generally fresher because they cannot be stored
as long). Also we can increase the nutrient content from food, by eating
it as unprocessed as possible, which generally means raw. Commercial fruits
and vegetables are frequently sprayed with toxic chemicals. Many of these
substances are harmful, and they accumulate in body fat, with deleterious
health effects over the years. An example is DDT, which is still present
in human fat tissue although its use was banned years ago.
Many of the pesticides
prohibited in the United States have been freely sold to third world countries,
which then export foods to the US. Controls on the use of pesticides and
other chemicals are not strict in many of these countries. The workers
who apply these chemicals frequently have diseases that are the result
of their high exposures. Certain nutritional supplements can help counter
the ill effects of many of these poisons. They include vitamins C, E and
B complex, carotenes, bioflavonoids, and others. Of course, it is also
wise to choose untreated foods as much as possible.
Stress, whether emotional
or physical or due to injury or illness, depletes the body of nutrients,
especially vitamin C, the B complex and zinc. Vitamin B6 and pantothenic
acid are also particularly important in times of stress. Vitamins C and
E and zinc promote the healing process.
It is important to
realize that potential human life span is well over 100 years. Living to
80 or 90 years may result from growing up with cleaner air and water, fresher
food, fewer chemical exposures and lesser availability of highly processed
foods. Also, many people who survive a long time have numerous health problems.
In spite of these occasional reports of decadent oldsters, we are seeing
more frequent and earlier degenerative diseases. In the United States alone,
it is estimated today that 1 of every 5 people have an auto-immune related
disorder. Many poor health habits, such as consumption of sweets, alcohol,
caffeine, highly processed foods and artificial food additives, lack of
exercise and high stress, increase nutrient needs. The typical American
diet is a sad joke. It would be hard to design a diet that could do more
harm to health than the one most Americans eat every day, and the most
absurd fact is that this joke is spreading out and becomes also a common
habit in Europe and other parts of the world. Specific chronic and acute
illnesses can be treated with large doses of nutrient supplements. They
can usually reduce or eliminate the need for drugs or surgery.
Dietary Allowances (RDAs)
The Recommended Dietary
Allowances are established by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National
Research Council, National Academy of Science. These nutrient levels are
supposed to prevent deficiency diseases in most healthy people. Unfortunately,
the values have been heavily influenced by the food industry, economic
considerations and politics, not just by science.
Many researchers question
the value of the RDAs. They make the highly processed American food supply
look more nutritious than it is, and they appear to be influenced by the
food industry. The RDAs are not useful in establishing optimal health.
You are at little risk of developing the deficiency diseases - pellagra,
scurvy, or beriberi. Our modern problems are not deficiency diseases but
degenerative diseases. Nutrients play an important role in preventing these
conditions. The RDAs cannot be used in evaluating the therapeutic and preventive
value of large doses of dietary supplements.
Looking around, we
will see many people who do manage to get the RDA levels of most nutrients,
but they still go on to develop early heart disease, cancer, arthritis,
and diabetes. They have frequent viral infections (colds, the flu, herpes),
they are overweight, and they lose their teeth to decay and gum disease.
In terms of life expectancy, infant mortality and health care costs, Americans
are not in the most favorable position in world statistics.