VITAMINE, from the Latin “vita” (life) and amine (generic name of the compound ammonia, vitamins were originally thought to be of this group) the vital substance of food, present in most foods in their natural state, i.e. before refining, preserving, packaging, cooking; essential to normal growth.
The desire for a healthy, integrated body is a developing consciousness as we strive to build a society in which we can control our own lives. Today, our search for a healthy way to live is influenced by the government and corporations which control the food market.
The health food industry, though an alternative, is still an extension of the same structure. Vitamin supplements are some of the hottest items in the health food industry, but their actual function in nutrition is not widely understood.
How does your body grow?
Similar to your garden, believe it or not. Each living cell carries on activities known as metabolism: absorbing and converting into its own protoplasm materials the body takes in, or oxidizing these materials to create energy and regulate functions.
The plant takes up minerals from decomposing rocks in the soil and absorbs ultraviolet rays from the sun. Photosynthesis, the sun’s effect on the green chlorophyll in plant leaves, converts soil minerals to an organic complex that the human body can absorb.
Using the living cells of plants and animals (food), the human body carries on its processes of anabolism building up of living material in cells; and catabolism breaking down of material into other or simpler products.
Each cell adequately uses and replaces the substances of which it is composed only in the presence of organic catalysts – vitamins. Vitamins control the body’s use of minerals; in a mineral deficient body there is little for vitamins to do. Minerals, however, can be used by the body to some extent without vitamins.
Vitamins were originally considered a single substance, then were differentiated into a family of related substances with alphabetical names. That separation led to the misconception that each vitamin (A, B1, B2, C, D, etc.) had a separate function and effect: that one vitamin was needed for anyone symptom or ailment.
But now it is believed that all vitamins and minerals work together – a nutritional complex that cannot be broken down. No one vitamin is more important than any other.
Your present eating habits, however, may create a deficiency in only some of the vitamins; for instance, if you eat no citrus fruit, especially oranges, you’re probably lacking vitamin C, and therefore very susceptible to colds and to bruising. In such a case, you could concentrate on supplying the vitamin or vitamins you lack while still maintaining your adequate supply of the others.
Where do you obtain the vitamins necessary for a healthy body?
The main cause of disease in the US today is the diminishing quality of our foodstuffs. When food is grown on soil rich with minerals, without chemical fertilizers, and then processed without chemical preservatives, without chemical dyes, and without chemical flavorings, it is the best source of the vitamins and minerals the body needs.
Vitamins obtained from natural foods are more useful to the body than vitamin pill supplements because in food there is a concentration of lots of vitamins and minerals, including trace minerals (zinc, manganese, cobalt, copper), enzymes and co-enzymes, all of which are necessary for natural physiological action, and all of which are not available in pills nor in liquid vitamin supplements either.
But processed food in the US today has very little nutritional value. The public became aware of this a few years ago, and we changed from a calorie-conscious to a vitamin conscious market.
We have very little control over our bodies because we have little control over what we eat. In a capitalistic society, unless you have your own garden, the only food available is that which is profitable for someone to supply; and it goes without saying that what is profitable for one is not necessarily healthy for others.
We are a ready market for the vitamin-pushers because we are already in a pill culture: aspirin, tranquilizers, and diet pills are familiar products; now we can pop a pill for health.
We are also a youth-oriented culture, and everyone wants to look younger, feel younger, and act younger. The vitamin and the health food industry in general use this appeal with their products. Through advertising, the industry can create almost any kind of market. Giant pharmaceutical corporations, not surprisingly, have developed the potential vitamin market.
There are two forms of vitamin supplements sold today. One is crystalline vitamins, which are made by treating natural source material (such as the liver for iron or B-complex vitamins) with chemical solvents:
- ether: made from alcohol and sulphuric acid
- benzine: petroleum derivative
- toluene: coal tar derivative
- trichloroethylene: petroleum derivative treated with chlorine gas
- methyl alcohol: synthetic wood alcohol (known to be poisonous).
Then the material is treated with precipitants (they cause separation and deposition of solid matter from a solution of liquid) such as iron chloride, barium chloride, lead salts, aluminum salts, etc. Then it is filtered, distilled by heat, and recovered in crystalline form.
The second form is synthetic vitamins, which are chemical reconstructions of the crystalline form from cheap materials, usually coal tar or petroleum derivatives, without even the natural base used in the crystalline form. Synthetic vitamins are not guaranteed to be digestible by your body, your friendly health food store salesperson will tell you. And it’s true!
As discouraging as the contents of crystalline vitamins sound, they have been used successfully by many nutrition-conscious people to regain and maintain health. At least people keep coming back to buy more vitamins from the ever-growing number of health food stores.
Also, books full of success stories using vitamin supplements to cure certain ailments are abundant. Adelle Davis’ books include such stories; for instance 100,000 milligrams of Vitamin A daily for four months cleared up a severe case of warts.
The vitamins and minerals demanded by the government in such products as white bread, so that you get “enriched” white bread, are usually coal tar derivatives, possibly causing cancer.
The vitamin D added to pasteurized milk is synthetic and not necessarily absorbable by the body. The “enrichment” law originated when the government recognized that people were becoming aware of their vitamin deficiencies.
Wheat, from which all flour originates, contains lots of good vitamins and minerals. In the refining process necessary to make fine white flour from coarse grain, there is so much heat from friction that the flour is pre-cooked; it loses nearly 25 nutrients in the process.
Then, according to law, one-third of the original B1, niacin, and iron are replaced. That’s your enrichment! Stoneground flour, which you will see labeled on packages of whole wheat flour, has not undergone the high heat refining and thus still retains its natural nutrients.
The ultimate solution to the problem of getting the vitamins and minerals we need to be healthy will be to remineralize the soil since no food can contain more than it derives from the soil it grows in. Then we will need to find ways to process the food, distribute it, cook it, and chew it, without destroying the nutritional value. Simple, no?
What to do?
To improve our health through diet will require a complete change of eating, and possibly living, habits from those fostered on us by the media, advertising, and what is available in the markets.
Brewer’s yeast is not the tastiest food, but more nutrients are more concentrated in yeast than in any other known food. It is relatively cheap. It comes in pill, flaked, and powdered forms. Neither the pill yeast nor the flaked is worth the money. You have to take 16 pills to equal a tablespoon of good powdered yeast. The same low concentration is true of flaked yeast.
To select powdered brewer’s yeast, you’ll have to read the labels to compare milligram contents to figure out the concentrate/cost ratio. A couple of tablespoons a day can supply enough protein to cure anemia. It can be taken in a glass of orange juice and added to bread and other things you bake.
All of the following nutrients in natural form are supplied in good brewer’s yeast: calcium, phosphorous, iron, copper, zinc, magnesium, potassium, manganese, sodium, iodine, B1, B2, B6, niacin, pantothenic acid, B12, biotin, inositol, para-aminobenzoic acid, and lots of amino acids.
An apple a day probably won’t keep the doctor away this winter, but three to six oranges a day might! Rosehip tea is another good source of vitamin C, necessary to prevent disease, especially colds.
Oatmeal is an excellent source of many minerals and trace minerals necessary to good health; a bowl of oatmeal in the morning (without sugar and milk which cause fermentation in the stomach) is great for you.
If you don’t like it, you can make a medicinal drink (i.e. you’re not supposed to like it!) with two heaped tablespoons of rolled oats to a quart of water. Simmer for 30 minutes. Beat with a spoon or egg beater, then strain. Rolled oats contain potassium, sodium, calcium. magnesium, iron, phosphorus, sulfur, silicon, chlorine, fluorine, iodine, and ash.
Certain herbs have high vitamin content and make nutritional teas.
Scientific studies have shown alfalfa to contain vitamins A, C, D, E, B8, K, and a high organic mineral content of iron, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium. It is also a rich source of organic salts.
Scientific studies of dandelion reveal it has exceptionally high vitamin A content; also a good source of B1, C, G, E, and organic calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium.