Most drugstore-quality vitamins are made from synthetic chemicals – they are not derivatives of natural food substances. Although this is also true of some brands sold in health food stores, most vitamins sold in health food stores are concentrations of nutrients from such natural sources as rose hips, green peppers and acerola berries (vitamin C); brewer’s yeast, liver or rice polishing (vitamin B); fish liver oil, or lemon grass (vitamins A and D); vegetable oils (vitamin E); kelp (iodine); bone meal, egg shells and milk (minerals); etc.
There is a great deal of controversy regarding the difference and the usefulness of synthetic vs. natural vitamins. Natural health authorities usually claim that synthetic vitamins are useless, ineffective and extremely harmful. Most orthodox doctors and nutritionists claim that synthetic vitamins have a molecular chemical structure identical to the so-called natural vitamins, and that they are just as effective. Who is right?
I have made studies of world-wide vitamin research to find an intelligent answer to this question.
In Sweden, two groups of silver foxes were fed identical diets, but one group received a food supplement in the form of all the known synthetic B-vitamins; the control group received vitamins in the form of brewer’s yeast and liver. The synthetically fed animals failed to grow, had bad fur and acquired many diseases. Animals fed the natural vitamins grew normally, developed beautiful fur and enjoyed good health. Approximately similar results were demonstrated in other animal studies in various countries.
“On the whole, we can trust nature further than the chemist and his synthetic vitamins”, explained Dr. A. J. Carlson, of Chicago University.
We must keep in mind that in nature vitamins are never isolated. They are always present in the form of vitamin complexes. There are 24 known factors in vitamin C-complex. There are 22 known B-vitamin factors. E vitamin, as we know it, is composed of at least 9 natural tocopherols. And so on. When you take natural vitamins, as for instance in form of rose hips, brewer’s yeast or vegetable oil, you are getting all the vitamins and vitamin-like factors that naturally occur in these foods – that is, all those that are already discovered as well as those that are not discovered yet. Our knowledge of vitamins is not complete. New vitamins are discovered frequently. For example, it has been clinically demonstrated that foods which are naturally rich in B-vitamins, such as brewer’s yeast and liver, contain some potent, but as yet unidentified or isolated, B-vitamin factors. When you take your vitamins in the form of vitamin-rich supplements or in the form of “complexes”, you are getting the benefit of all the known as well as unknown vitamins.
Does this mean that synthetic vitamins are useless? Not necessarily. The rightful place of synthetic vitamins is in their therapeutic use where extremely large doses of easily-soluble and fast-acting vitamins are necessary. For example, Dr. W. J. McCormick, the world-famous authority on the therapeutic uses of vitamin C, has successfully used huge doses of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) in acute cases of poisoning or infection, preferably intravenously. His treatments brought spectacular results and often saved lives. You cannot very well inject rose hips intravenously and get such results. Dr. Linus Pauling had used synthetic ascorbic acid to successfully prevent or cure the common cold. In huge doses, synthetic vitamins perform as fast-acting drugs. Their action is often more rapid than the action of natural vitamins. This fact can be invaluable in acute conditions of poisoning or ill health.
Vitamin E is a good example. Proponents of natural vitamins advise taking vitamin E-rich vegetable oils, particularly wheat germ oil instead of isolated vitamin E capsules. Or, if capsules are used, they advise taking vitamin E in the form of mixed tocopherols, as it occurs in nature. But, Drs. Evan and Wilfred Shute, the world’s foremost authorities on therapeutic uses of vitamin E, use only an isolated alpha-tocopherol in their successful practice and research work. They contend that alpha-tocopherol is the only active part of the vitamin E complex and that the other tocopherols are not necessary in therapeutic use.
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