“Added value” is in quotes because it is the title of an article written by Sarah Murray, and published in the “Health” magazine of yesterday’s (9/16/09) Financial Times newspaper. The subtitle is: “Public-private partnerships in food fortification are an efficient and sustainable way of improving the health of the world’s poorest”. I will speak about the health related topics. This article is intended to explain the value of nutritional supplements of human health.
Many people believe that supplements are not necessary and some go as far as saying that the body won’t utilize supplements for the intended purposes, basically saying they don’t work. I imagine these people would agree that supplements derived from whole foods (dried and ground into a tablet, capsule, or powder) will work. However, I’ll be referring to both natural supplements and those synthesized in a laboratory; which end up as the exact molecule (vitamin, mineral, or amino acid) contained in food; or even further, it’s activated form (i.e.: the form the body converts it into to make it usable at the cellular level). Let’s begin with some information contained in Murray’s article.
In 2007, health specialists evaluated students in Beijing, and concluded that their ability to learn was not hampered by mental factors, but in fact physical. “Many of the children had iron-related anemia and were deficient in vitamins A and B.” The children were then fed a diet fortified with these nutrients. As Murray states: “The impact was dramatic. There was a fall in the anemia rate from 13.7% to 2.5%, and vitamin B1 deficiency dropped from 24.8 to 4.5%, while vitamin B2 deficiency fell from 17.7% to 7.9%. As a result, the children’s attention rates increased considerably and their performance improved markedly.” The rest of the article speaks mainly about helping feed and nourish the world’s poorest, and the economics of it. This clearly illustrates that supplementing one’s diet (through fortification in this instance) can have a marked, measurable change on a person’s health and functioning. I do not recommend my patients eat fortified food however, because they are often highly refined and processed. And they may even require the body to use up extra nutrients (those that were provided by nature and removed by man) in order to be properly metabolized.
I would also like to bring attention to a book written by Gary Null, Ph.D., titled “The Clinician’s Handbook of Natural Healing – The first comprehensive guide to scientific peer reviewed studies of natural supplements and their proven treatment values“. The inside cover reads: “Covering more than 1.3 million studies, Null looked at each of the primary nutrients found in both foods and herbs as well as in supplemental and higher therapeutic dosages”. Null’s book contains 857 pages of text, but then again the 1.3 million studies says it all. I don’t know the process which he went through to analyze these studies, however, I do know he is probably one of the brightest individuals in the world; and I believe he is a researcher and certainly knows the process well. Also, Appendix C contains “toxicity studies” – this section makes up 21 pages of the 857 pages of text (not including table of contents or index). PS: I bought mine when it was first released, there are now updated versions available (I have no financial connection with this product).
I have one quick word on therapeutic dosages and toxicity. If you are taking supplements at less than therapeutic dosages or less than recommended time, you may not see any change in your health or health condition. Therefore, it would not be “fair” to say that supplements don’t work, or that you don’t need that supplement. Additionally, if you are taking dosages that are above therapeutic ranges, you may potentially experience side effects. Obviously, therapeutic dosages will vary individually. Remember, too much of anything, including water, can actually actually kill a person. A quick note about myself. My doctor (and one of my mentors), Tim Francis, DC, DIBAK who practices in Las Vegas, NV once prescribed me 180 mg of zinc (in a single dose) for about 6 months before decreasing it. Studies vary tremendously on toxicity levels with some reporting as low as 75mg, some saying 500-1,000mg, and one reporting 10,ooomg or more in one single dose resulting in nausea, vomiting and diarrhea from zinc. The higher doses were reported from the highly reputable National Research Council. The information was obtained here. I only noticed beneficial effects and “watched” excessive levels of lead, mercury, and copper “pour” out of me (via lab tests). And, in case you were wondering; yes, I make it point to travel there at least once a year, consult with him throughout the year, and get treated structurally and emotionally by local doctors.
Here is some information prescription drugs. According to this reference (the article was first released in 2004): “Over 100,000 people are hospitalized each year with GI complications caused by NSAID use, and an estimated 16,500 patients die from NSAID induced GI bleeding. This is far more people than die of AIDS (13,500). In fact, such GI bleeding is the 14th leading cause of death in this country, according to the CDC”. Examples of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are ibuprofen and naproxen (of which one brand name is Aleve®). Let us not forget the complications with Vioxx® and the enormous experiment on the female population with hormone replacement therapy (and it’s devastating effects). There are many, many more examples of death from drugs I choose not to explore. They should be easy to find. One more thing about Null. He co-authored an amazing study with other medical doctors titled “Death by Medicine”. The study begins by saying; “These statistics contained in this report confirm that American medicine is the number one cause of death in the United States”. Additionally, it reports that outpatient adverse drug reactions total 199,000 deaths and $77 billion in cost per year.
Let’s forget about statistics, and go back to why I feel supplements are usually necessary. First, I do believe we should get our nutrients from whole, organically-grown foods. However, I feel it can be close to impossible to correct certain nutrient deficiencies through food alone; especially if you are already suffering from a health concern related to nutrient deficiencies. Also, your condition may not necessarily be “related” to a nutrient deficiency, but high levels of nutrients may be necessary to correct its problem. For example, excessive toxic metals in my case. That may be considered a toxic exposure and not a nutrient deficiency case, however, I can’t figure out how I would have gotten those metals out in that amount of time without supplementing (with high doses of zinc). And I also don’t consider more than 6 months of supplementation very quick. Could it have been done through diet, maybe. Do you realize how many oysters I would have had to eat on a daily basis to get that same amount of zinc. And I really don’t care for oysters. And I’m just like you; how much time are you really willing to wait before you feel better?
I’ll finish off with some simple examples of how nutrients get used up quickly during normal lifestyle activity.
1) The mineral molybdenum is required to detoxify aldehydes. You are exposed to aldehydes every time you smell perfume or cologne, and smell the wonderful fragrances when you walk down the detergent aisle in the grocery store. Here is a patient example for you: after not getting adequate results from treating a woman’s chronic neck pain structurally; I probed deeper into her lifestyle and asked her to avoid spraying perfume on her neck. And sure enough, she no longer noticed that neck pain. This example did not require supplementation; however, if she insisted to continue with perfume, that would have been the next step. I will continue to look deeper to find out if supplementing with molybdenum may help other aspects of her health; as I don’t really think she consumes enough through her diet. This could easily be considered “toxic exposure”, but if her molybdenum stores were optimal, and she was able to detox the aldehydes, would you still call it that?
2) Every time we smell diesel fumes from the trucks that go by, our anti-oxidant stores and depleted. By the way, they are depleted from many other environmental toxins we may not even be aware of. And, you may not have enough stores in the first place. Or they may be used up through the body’s natural and normal production of them to run biochemical cycles. Also, exercise increases free radical production.
3) The alcohol that might be enjoyed at celebrations requires a zinc-dependent enzyme, alcohol dehydrogenase, to be metabolized properly. Don’t forget you may need that zinc to detox heavy metals; and definitely for the enzyme DNA polymerase (necessary for EVERY CELL in the body to grow properly).
There are plenty of more examples. Diet is primary, supplements are secondary. However, supplements are often necessary based on the conditions I see in my patients. If you don’t have a particular health concern, you may consider using supplements for prevention purposes. Here’s another article on wrote on my top 5 recommended supplements for overall health. And another article on why it may be necessary to supplement. Lastly, one great way to get your nutrients through food is by drinking organic green vegetable juices daily. Thanks for reading!
Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology