Thursday, March 1, 2012


Everyone knows that vitamins are necessary to life and that they are normally obtained from the consumption of naturally occurring foods. There are also a number of minerals that are just as vital but general knowledge of them is not as well known. Over the years I have often had the thought that the entire periodic table is required for maintaining optimum health. This may sound strange but it is known, for example, that lead is actually a nutrient. A completely lead free diet is extremely hard to create but this was achieved and given to animals. They failed to grow until the minute dose of lead was restored. We all know that lead is a poison but in these minute concentrations it is a nutrient, perhaps as some kind of modifier of metabolism. Compare this with selenium, now known to be a vital antioxidant. Until 1957 this was classified as a poison and when someone announced that it was an essential nutrient he was thought to be crazy. How many more elements do we actually require? This concept has the advantage of causing the burial ceremony “dust to dust and earth to earth” to make sense.
The point of all this is that everything we eat has a “dose window”, even water! Lead, as a nutrient, obviously has a minute dose and its “window” is extremely small. Selenium taken in a dose of micrograms is a nutrient but it also has a very narrow “window” and can easily reach toxicity. By contrast, vitamins have large dose “windows” and it is very much harder to reach a toxic dose. Water soluble vitamins have no storage in the body and Mother Nature obviously required us to receive a daily dose, supplied by the “God-made” food that surrounded our primitive ancestors. Fat soluble vitamins like vitamin E are stored in the body and it is less easy for them to become deficient although that still does occur.
So why are we talking about treatment (therapy) of disease with these naturally occurring chemical substances? It obviously requires some explanation of what they do in the body and why we can no longer rely on “God-made” food to supply them. In a purely natural setting, vitamins and essential minerals are recycled, but as civilization has developed, we now have a sewage system that empties into a processing plant. Farming practices have changed too. Phosphate fertilizers, rather than the old fashioned manure, result in healthy looking plants but they are woefully deficient in these vital “non-caloric” nutrients.
The body functions through the use of enzymes, each of which is under genetic control. They can be roughly compared to cog wheels in a man-made machine, a mechanism that enables energy to be used in producing action. They are synthesized in the cells that require them and are used to perform all the needed operations of their specific cell. They are complex proteins built up from chains of amino acids that create a code for the desired function. Each enzyme requires one or more chemical substances that are known as cofactors to the enzyme. Without cofactor(s) the enzyme becomes very inefficient. Vitamins and certain essential minerals are these cofactors and that is why they are so vitally important. One example of this is the disease known as beriberi that I have discussed in previous posts. Vitamin B1 (thiamin) is one of the cofactors to an enzyme that enables glucose to be used as fuel for cells, so it is easy to see how important this vitamin is for it stands astride the complex mechanisms that create energy. That is why I have compared thiamin to a spark plug in a car cylinder. We know that the Required Daily Allowance (RDA) for thiamin is about 1.5 mgs a day, so why does it take about 100 mgs three times a day for several months to reverse the symptoms of beriberi? We have to assume that the lack of this important vitamin for a long enough time results in structural deterioration of either the enzyme itself or its capacity to bind with its cofactor(s).
A cofactor has to bind to its particular enzyme to create the right chemical combination. There can also be a rare genetically determined error in the binding mechanism, resulting in the need for a huge increase in concentration of the cofactor. This is known as vitamin dependency rather than simple dietary deficiency but the clinical results of dietary deficiency and dependency are the same. The first case of vitamin B1 dependency to be discovered was a 6-year old boy who had recurrent episodes of a neurological illness that imitated childhood, dietary caused beriberi.
It is also necessary to consider why a prolonged dietary deficiency of a vitamin cofactor requires mega doses of the vitamin to revive the action of the enzyme/cofactor combination. The exact reason is unknown but it is relatively easy to assume that the enzyme itself undergoes constructional changes from disuse or perhaps the binding of the cofactor(s) becomes gradually more difficult. I can certainly confirm that Recommended Daily Requirement (RDA) doses of a given vitamin do nothing for a patient if deficiency has been prolonged.
There is also another twist to this. Calories, as I have indicated in a number of posts, are produced by oxidation (combustion) of fuel represented by protein, fat and carbohydrate. If the calories are increased without the necessary corresponding vitamins they are known as “empty” or “naked” calories. My analogy bears repeating. The effect can be compared with the loss of energy in a car engine when there is either an inefficient spark plug to ignite the gasoline or too high a ratio of gasoline to oxygen. With an excess of gasoline in the cylinder we call the engine choked and the result is poor engine performance and black smoke (unburned hydrocarbons) issuing from the exhaust. This principle applies to the human body and although the details are widely different, the resulting lack of energy is noticed by an affected patient as unusual fatigue. The equivalent of exhaust smoke is the finding of organic acids, derived from inadequate oxidation, that can be extracted from the patient’s urine.
I refer to this as high calorie malnutrition and it is incredibly common in America. Its effect is quite different from that of starvation, the word that is usually associated with malnutrition. In the former category the stomach is well filled but “the cellular engines are choked”. It results in obesity, inflammatory diseases, fatigue and the common conditions that are so frequent in this era. In the latter category, all forms of nutrients are missing and the patient gradually sinks into attrition. Proper nutrition is based on the correct ratio of non-caloric substances to the calorie-providing protein, fat and carbohydrate. As I have pointed out in many posts, sugar is the most abused calorie bearing carbohydrate and in the last post I reported the findings of Dr. Yudkin 38 years ago. The overall health of millions is compromised by this largely ignored error in the vital importance of appropriate nutrition. It is truly amazing that nutrition has for long been almost completely ignored in medical schools although that is at least beginning to change. Self responsibility is gained through knowledge and we have been delinquent for too long in expecting doctors to heal us when we are sick. Doctors do not heal. The body performs this amazing activity and all it requires is energy to run the "mind/body" combination. The most important aspect of prevention is in knowing what to eat and drink. It far outweighs the present preventive approach that depends on a variety of medical examinations and tests.


  1. Dr. Barbara Gilchrest, who fired Dr. Michael Holick from one of his professorships several years ago after Holick wrote a book saying God knew what she was doing when she created sunlight, gave the Plenary Lecture. Wisely, Dr. Gilchrest overwhelmed the audience with graphic pictures of invasive skin cancer to support her argument that sunlight is evil. Of course, it's harder to show pictures of invasive colon cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and the 15 other internal cancers caused by sunlight deprivation.

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  2. I guess that you are talking about vitamin D deficiency as a result of sunlight deprivation. I agree with you on this. We were certainly born to live under the sun and I have come to think that our skin cancer response is because we are no longer adapted to living out in the open.

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