This month newsletter we will be focusing on How important supplements are and how it can affect your life. However, before beginning on this topic, I would like to greet each and every one with a happy holiday blessing.
Vitamins: What are they and what do they do?
Reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, PhD, MSN, RN, IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT
Vitamins are organic compounds that are needed in small quantities to sustain life. Most vitamins need to come from food.
This is because the human body either does not produce enough of them, or it does not produce any at all.
Each organism has different vitamin requirements. For example, humans need to consume vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, but dogs do not. Dogs can produce, or synthesize, enough vitamin C for their own needs, but humans cannot.
People need to get most of their vitamin D from exposure to sunlight, because it is not available in large enough quantities in food. However, the human body can synthesize it when exposed to sunlight.
Different vitamins have different roles, and they are needed in different quantities.
Fast facts on vitamins
Here are some key points about vitamins.
There are 13 known vitamins.
Vitamins are either water-soluble or fat-soluble.
Fat-soluble vitamins are easier for the body to store than water-soluble.
Vitamins always contain carbon, so they are described as "organic."
Food is the best source of vitamins, but some people may be advised by a physician to use supplements.
What are vitamins?
A vitamin is one of a group of organic substances that is present in minute amounts in natural foodstuffs. Vitamins are essential to normal metabolism. If we do not take enough of any kind of vitamin, certain medical conditions can result.
A vitamin is both:
an organic compound, which means it contains carbon an essential nutrient that body cannot produce enough of and which it needs to get from food.
Fat-soluble and water-soluble
Vitamins are either fat-soluble or water-soluble.
Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the fatty tissues of the body and the liver. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble. These are easier to store than water-soluble vitamins, and they can stay in the body as reserves for days, and sometimes months.
Fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed through the intestinal tract with the help of fats, or lipids.
Water-soluble vitamins do not stay in the body for long. The body cannot store them, and they are soon excreted in urine. Because of this, water-soluble vitamins need to be replaced more often than fat-soluble ones.
Vitamin C and all the B vitamins are water soluble.
Using Supplements to Help Fight Cancer
The main difference between chemotherapy and vitamin or herbal supplements is that most chemotherapy is designed to kill cancer cells, while most supplements are designed to strengthen the immune system so that it can then remove cancer cells. The hope is that, by creating an internal environment that is incredibly strong and healthy, cancer cells will not be able to thrive.
Today’s fruits and vegetables contain much smaller amounts of vitamins than they did a hundred years ago. This is due to pesticide use, a lack of trace minerals in the soil, and the harvesting of fruits and vegetables long before they are ripe in order to transport them across the country. Consider this staggering fact: today’s fruits and vegetables have up to 40% fewer vitamins and minerals than they did just 50 years ago. Given this widespread lack of minerals and nutrients in the food supply, you can see why supplements may be necessary for maintaining health in today’s world.
However, when it comes to the science, the jury’s still out. Sadly, this is because many herbal supplements can not be patented, and therefore large pharmaceutical companies have very little incentive to conduct research on them—because they would not be able to make money off them. Nevertheless, smaller studies have shown that various supplements do indeed have cancer-fighting properties. For example, numerous studies done on epigallocatechin (ECGC)—a compound found in green tea—have found that it actively kills cancer cells, while other studies have found that mushroom supplements such as “turkey tail” increase the number of natural killer cells in cancer patients. Additional studies have shown that high doses of vitamin C, high doses of turmeric spice, and daily doses of probiotics all help to boost the immune system’s cancer-fighting capabilities.
FINALLY, QUAILITY AND STRENGTH OF SUPPLEMENTS
There has been a dramatic increase in the use of nutritional supplements over the last several years, with many relying on these alternatives as a means to prevent and treat disease. There is a common belief held by the population that all supplements are created equal. This has led some to seek the best value, not the best quality. A consumer should know that the grade, form, purity, bioavailability and third-party verification all contribute to the effectiveness of the product they're ingesting.
Nutritional supplements are typically available in four different categories: pharmaceutical grade, medical grade, cosmetic or nutritional grade, and feed or agricultural grade.
Pharmaceutical grade is the highest quality grade of vitamins, meaning the purity, dissolution and absorption meet the highest regulatory standard verified by an outside party. Pharmaceutical grade vitamins may be available without a prescription, but they are typically only sold by licensed health care practitioners.
Medical grade vitamins are also a high-grade vitamin, although they may not meet all of the standards of pharmaceutical grade vitamins. Prenatal vitamins typically fall into this category.
Cosmetic or nutritional grade supple-ments are typically sold in health food stores. These supplements might not always be tested for absorption, dissolution or purity. Additionally, these supplements do not always have the same concentrations of active ingredients as what is listed on the label.
Feed or agricultural grade supplements are produced for veterinary use, and patients should not use this grade of supplement.
You may be asking, “Why are things such as form, purity and bioavailability so important?” The ability for your vitamin to work properly can vary greatly depending on the form used. An example of this is the difference between natural or synthetic vitamin E. Natural vitamin E is absorbed better from the GI tract and is more active than its synthetic counterpart. Magnesium aspartate is better absorbed and more bioavailable then magnesium oxide, but some manufacturers of lower-grade supplements use the oxide form because it takes up less room in the capsule or tablet and is less expensive. Purity is another important quality. All vitamins should be screened for impurities such as lead, mercury, pesticides, insecticides or other toxic ingredients.
The best way to make sure you are purchasing a high quality nutritional supplement is to buy a pharmaceutical grade form. These are usually only sold by a licensed health care practitioner such as a doctor, nurse practitioner, compounding pharmacist or chiropractor. The manufacturers of pharmaceutical grade supplements know their high quality products can have a profound effect on an individual’s health; therefore, they want a licensed health care practitioner monitoring the use of their product. If you don't know if the supplements you are purchasing are pharmaceutical grade, make sure the company is Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) certified and find out by whom they are certified. You may also want to make sure they perform laboratory analysis on their products, find out what kind of assays they perform on their products, and see if they do disintegration studies on their supplements. You may also want to see if the company performs human trials to ensure they are safe and effective. Seeking out a health care provider trained in integrative medicine can be a step in the right direction to help you through the process of finding a high quality nutritional supplement that will meet your personal needs.
WORDS FROM publisher, Sheryl Malin
For a little over seven years, I have managed my cancer with a lifestyle change of eating organic as well as all products that I use. I have learned to exercise my body as well as mediate my mind. It is a state of body, heart and mind. With all of these and taking supplements, both my husband and I have survived cancer. Throughout the years I have been researching and educating others on the different kinds of supplements that are out there. For both my husband and I we have found out that Life Extension and USANA are the best quality on the market. I have been using both brands for seven years.
I have lately been researching a new type of supplement the seed. Soul, Core, Form. This product is taking the organic seed and cold pressing it into a mixture to boost your immune system up and detoxing your body. Dan and I have been taking it and hoping soon to slowly get off some of the supplements for more information go to http://www.myrainlife.com/thejourneytogoodhealth
UNTIL NEXT YEAR, Have a safe and merry holiday season. Blessings to all and all a good month.