Many people insist that they can get all their nutrients from food. “If God wanted me to take vitamins, He would have made a vitamin pill” typifies their thinking. The American public has long been told by the medical profession that all the nutrients they require are available through a ‘good diet’ and that vitamins do nothing but create expensive urine. The truth is that most doctors know very little about nutrition. Virtually nothing is taught in medical schools. At least at the time I attended, the emphasis was on curing disease not preventing it. While pharmaceutical companies were loud and clear in promoting the benefits of drugs of every type, we never heard from representatives of vitamin companies. In fact we were taught to regard the whole health food and supplement field with scorn. As a young medical student, however, I had the unique opportunity of doing a three month nutritional rotation at the University of California at Davis. Here I learned about the benefits of supplementing the diet.
I now know that pharmaceutical companies have an interest in making people take medicine and in encouraging doctors to write prescriptions. They are among the most profitable industries in our country. On the other hand, if we were taught to focus on prevention and health maintenance, including the use of vitamins and minerals, pharmaceutical companies might not be so profitable. It seems to me that it is a lot safer to have some Vitamin C wash out of your system in your urine than to accept the side effects of virtually all prescription drugs.
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Another important factor in the campaign against supplements is that we really don’t know how much of any nutrient people need to be healthy in our current environment. The government has established something called the RDA -Recommended Daily Allowance of the major vitamins and minerals. These amounts, however, were developed by determining how much of the substance was needed to prevent disease. The RDA for Vitamin C, for example, is the amount required to prevent scurvy. These studies were done on young healthy persons many years ago before we had to contend with our denatured food and environmental toxins. In a diseased state the requirements of vitamins are increased. The damaged or injured cells are trying to repair themselves and need more nutrients.
A third reason why supplements have been controversial is that, until recent decades, there were no studies that demonstrated how valuable they were. Pharmaceutical companies had no financial incentive to perform studies on a product that they could not patent. Doctors believe in studies because they are scientifically acceptable. So now we have studies showing the role of Vitamin C in protecting against many diseases; Vitamin E protecting against heart disease, and an herb, St. John’s Wort, helping with depression.
I firmly believe that it is prudent for almost everyone to supplement their diet. It certainly is necessary for persons who are aged, who have a chronic illness, who are exposed to toxins or other environmental hazards, who handle stressful situations poorly, and who have a family history of heart disease, cancer, or diabetes. I add serious eye disease to this list, of course. This is why I can safely say that virtually everyone needs to take supplements. The amount and particular mix of supplements for an individual depends on age, overall health, family history, and any early signs of degenerative disease.
I have just explained how the RDA dosage of supplements is determined. This level of nutritional supplements is too low for almost everyone. Since you will be using nutrients like medicine, you need to take larger amounts of the nutrients recommended in this chapter. After explaining each nutrient, I will share with you a formula that contains an adequate amount of each one. Taking this formula, or a similar one, will ensure that you receive sufficient amounts of every indicated vitamin and mineral discussed. You could take more of some of the nutrients, but you would need to buy extra bottles of pills and capsules.