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September 28, 2011

Vitamins should be whole foods, not preservatives

GROVE CITY — The last column I wrote discussed whole foods, whole food vitamins, and synthetic vitamins. The body is made up of millions of cells. These cells need food for fuel and repair. Most vitamins sold are synthetic, manmade, or imitations of the real thing. The molecule might look the same under a microscope, but it's really a mirror image. It's like putting a right glove on the left hand.

High doses of these synthetic vitamin fragments may stimulate (like a drug) a cell's metabolism, but will never improve the health of the cell itself, thus increasing body function. Your body knows the difference.

Let's look at the common vitamin C, most commonly known as ascorbic acid. The problem with this is that ascorbic acid is only a tiny part of the whole vitamin C complex, which also includes numerous bioflavonoids, rutin, five copper ions, tyrosine, J factors, various ascorbigens, vitamin K, iron magnesium, zinc, selenium, magnesium, and phosphorus -- plus more. Wow, that's a mouthful -- and the ascorbic acid is really just a natural preservative of the other important contents! Many believe ascorbic acid is the whole vitamin C, but as you can see, it's only a little portion -- yet it can be synthesized in a lab and sold as such.

Eating foods containing vitamin C has been known for years to help with the common cold, but very little evidence has proven taking high doses of ascorbic acid for a prolonged period of time helps. Taking only that tiny portion of vitamin C forces the body to pull from other nutrient reserves to complete the complex, thus resulting in other nutritional deficiencies. This is why any benefit of taking ascorbic acid alone lasts for only a short while.

God never made isolated components of the vitamin complexes. Chemists have a hard time looking at the value of the whole complex; they like to take the components apart to identify and reason out the actions they perform. That's when it is theorized that a specific component of a researched diet is responsible for the outcome rather than the entire food eaten.

There is a lot of good in the old adage about eating your fruits and veggies. I realize that sometimes it's hard to eat everything that's good for you -- so there is another way.

Whole food vitamins actually contain the foods high in vitamin C, representing the whole complex in one supplement. 

Linus Pauling, American chemist and Nobel Prize winner, was a huge proponent of mega-doses of ascorbic acid to aid the common cold and many other illnesses. Scientific evidence has failed to back these claims. As the University of California -- Berkley Wellness Letter states, since 1932, no vitamin has been the focus of more research than vitamin C, yet little has been learned of the expected miracles from using ascorbic acid. It goes on to say that foods contain "many other nutrients that, all together" help keep you healthy and ward off many chronic illnesses. On the other hand, foods containing larger amounts of vitamin C are extremely helpful!

Information on supplements can be so confusing. Various studies show the same amount of various results. Some studies are done in fragmented or synthesized components. The one thing many scientists and doctors agree on is that a diet of primarily whole, natural foods is very beneficial for every aspect of health and wellbeing. Fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and minimally processed food, fats and oils, organic meats and other real foods reduce the risk of disease.

One of the best examples is to eat what our ancestors ate 100 years ago. If it wasn't available to them, we shouldn't be putting it in our mouths! This of course, is easier said than done. It does makes you think, though.

Rhonda Brooks is a licensed practical nurse and massage therapist. She owns a health food and supplement store in downtown Grove City.

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