Why Take Vitamins?

by Zoltan P. Rona, M.D., M.Sc.

The commonest question I hear as a health care practitioner is, "Do you recommend that everybody takes vitamin and mineral supplements?" The answer to this question is an unequivocal "yes." The quality of our food grown in mineral depleted soils is not what the agribusiness people would have us believe. With over 70,000 new chemicals added to our environments since the 1940's, how could anyone say that our food supply is the best it's ever been? Studies indicate that our daily vitamin and mineral needs are not met by food alone.

"On its way from the garden to the gullet," as Dr. Emmanuel Cheraskin of the University of Alabama School of Medicine puts it, "the food on your table has had 50 percent of its nutrients removed." Countless others echo this leading nutrition researcher's findings: up to 80 percent of the food's value is lost through processing, transportation, freezing, storage, cooking, spraying and chemical additives. This also refers to organic food. In order to get the same amounts of vitamins and minerals your grandparents did from food alone in the early part of the 20th Century, you would have to consume six large meals per day. Since this would overload you with calories, it is far better to take vitamin and mineral supplements. Some have argued that one of the reasons for the epidemic of obesity, fatigue and mental illness in the population is micronutrient deficiency.

Another good reason for taking supple-mental vitamins and minerals is to protect our bodies against the toxic effects of a polluted environment. Over the past decade, extensive research has been done on the subject of "free radical pathology." Many reputable scientists and medical doctors believe that "free radical pathology" is at the root of immune system disorders, cancer, heart disease and a long list of degenerative diseases, including aging. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules (containing an unpaired electron) which can cause damage to the body. They can be offset by antioxidants (vitamins, minerals, enzymes). Free radicals come from radiation, hydro-carbons from car exhausts, cigarette smoke, drugs, pesticides, herbicides, food additives, industrial waste products and many other sources. The gradual deteri­oration of the ozone layer plays a part. All of this necessitates even greater protection with antioxidant nutrients like beta carotene, vitamin A, B vitamins (espe­cially Bt and B6), vitamins C and E, bioflavonoids, selenium, zinc, silicon, amino acids, enzymes like S.O.D. (superoxide dismutase), coenzymes and essential fatty acids.

The ideal situation would be to have a preventive health care system that tested individuals for vitamin, mineral and enzyme deficiencies. Specific nutrient supplements could then be prescribed to promote wellness on the basis of biochemical individuality testing. Unfor­tunately, we have a disease care system that ignores the value and importance of prevention, natural treatments and nutrient supplementation. This is gradually changing but, until a true health care system emerges, what can the average person who has no access to wellness doctors and nutritional testing do?

First of all, even in the face of less than ideal food quality, eating a healthier diet is possible. Most importantly, lower the intake of saturated fat and cholesterol by eliminating red meats from the diet. Keep high fat dairy products, especially cheeses to a minimum. Cultured dairy products such as yogurt or buttermilk in small amounts are fine as long as they are low in fat. Avoid coffee, regular tea, alcohol. sugar and white flour products. The more vegetarian your food selection, the better.

Next, take some broad spectrum anti-oxidant supplements. The two worry-free supplements I recommend for a variety of reasons are bee pollen extract (Enrich Bee Pollen capsules) and super blue green algae (Enrich Chloroplasma). This combination provides a perfect mixture of the richest, maximum spectrum antioxidants available in tablet or capsule form. Some scientists have called both bee pollen extract and super blue green algae nature's most perfect foods. Together they contain a very well balanced supply of all the essential amino acids, vitamins, trace minerals, essential fatty acids, RNA, DNA, plant enzymes, co-enzymes and prostaglandin precursors. Super blue green algae is one of the few palatable vegetarian sources of vitamin B12.

Aside from fulfilling daily essential vitamin and mineral needs and providing antioxidant protection for life extension, both these products can be used to enhance work and sports performance. The use of bee pollen by professional and Olympic athletes for physical endurance and power is well documented. Naturopaths and medical doctors have also had excellent results prescribing bee pollen in high doses to treat coronary artery disease, high blood fats and nocturia (the need to urinate at night caused by an enlarged prostate). The world medical literature reports benefits from bee pollen extract in a long list of chronic conditions: anemia, depression, chronic fatigue, premature aging, poor memory and concentration, obesity, insomnia, arthritis. senility, menopause and prostatitis. Super blue green algae, on the other hand bas been demonstrated to help in both the prevention and treatment of all viral conditions including Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and AIDS. Testimonials of its energy enhancing properties are legion.

Side effects and toxicity from overdoses of either super blue green algae or bee pollen even in children have never been reported in over thirty years of broad scale use. For those who want a safe and effective way of optimizing health, preventing illness and living longer, these whole food supplements may very well be the answer.

Dr. Zoltan P. Rona is a practising medical doctor in Toronto and is the author of the best selling book, The Joy of Health (Hounslow Press).

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