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A Close Look at Supplementation - Part 1 of 4: Natural Vs Synthetic

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The supplementation industry was born after the industrial revolution, when researchers figured out how to replicate molecules of vitamins normally occurring in nature. 

Today many vitamins can be synthesized from substances ranging from corn syrup to coal tar!  It is with these synthetics -- and the help of thousands of promotional articles published worldwide daily -- that the multi-billion dollars supplements industry capitalizes on the failure of the pharmaceuticals industry.

This industry has become so complex to be blinding, even for the experts!  

From the hundreds of supplements on offer, the average consumer faces thousands of choices about regulations, ingredients, sources, mixes, labeling, quality, manufacturers, confusing descriptions, and outrageous claims. 

At the same rate that new molecules and their metabolic functionality are identified (like COQ10, alpha lipoic acid, selenium, etc) hundreds of supplements are introduced annually in your vitamin store, or on the Internet.

After many years of using and learning about supplements, and in the process realizing their inefficiency and potential danger, I abandoned all non-food supplementation for myself and my clients.  That was in 2007. 

Fortunately one alternative solution had been there all along: Natural Supplementation. 

This simple yet powerful solution eliminates 95% of supplements, and cuts right through complexities and confusion about supplementation.

Over the next several articles, in a series called “Supplementation”, I will shed light on this important health topic. My goal is that you too will be delivered from the firm grasp of the supplementation industry.

In this series, I will propose what I have confirmed and experienced personally, and like many of you, what I had known instinctively all along, that:

  • nutrients left in their natural form operate dramatically better then synthesized or isolated ones, and will cause ZERO toxicity
  • nutrients isolated from their natural form are mostly inefficient and often toxic
  • synthesized nutrients are greatly inefficient, often toxic and dangerous
  • mega dose of synthesized and/or isolated nutrients are greatly inefficient, often toxic and dangerous

I will provide you with information to help you discern between the good and the bad.  I will share with you criteria with which to dissect manufacturer’s claims and promotional articles.  Knowledge is power, and you will know more than most; you will be able to make intelligent decision on nutrition and supplementation.  We will cover topics like:

  • Synthetic Vs. natural?
  • Why supplement at all?
  • When is natural really natural?
  • Characteristics of a good supplement
  • Supplementation simplification!

OK, so here we go!

Synthetic Vs. Natural

Some scientist say that synthetic vitamins have identical chemical structure as natural vitamins do; some say that they are just as effective.  And at one time many scientists believed the world to be flat.  In the laboratory, chemists can duplicate sea water that looks chemically identical to natural sea water, but when fish are placed in this synthetic water, they die!

In this series, I start with proposing that the only “real” natural vitamins are those that occur complete with their complex family of micro-nutrients (known and unknown) within the whole food in its natural state, like vitamin C of green pepper. 

The balance and synergy between these micro-nutrients cannot be duplicated and is indispensable for proper assimilation, cellular absorption and utilization. 

Natural vitamins are the best way to benefit cellular nutrition without toxicity.  Synthetic and isolated vitamins not only lack the supporting balance and synergy of natural vitamins, but often will cause metabolic imbalances.

Let’s pick on Vitamin C as an example

Vitamin C -- as naturally occurring in citrus fruits, acerola cherries and a myriad other fruits and vegetables -- comes as a complex containing vitamin P factors such as bioflavonoid and rutin, vitamin K, vitamin J, various enzymes and coenzymes plus a small amount of ascorbic acid, the antioxidant of the complex.  In the supplementation industry, vitamin C is rated according to the amount of ascorbic acid it contains.  Ascorbic acid is not vitamin C, ascorbic acid is ascorbic acid, a fraction of the biologically utilizable natural vitamin C complex.  Most vitamin C (ascorbic acid) on the market are produced synthetically.  

According to The New York Times, a team of British pathologists at the University of Leicester studied 30 healthy men and women for six weeks, giving them 400 milligrams of synthetic vitamin C daily in the form of ascorbic acid. They found that at this level, vitamin C promoted damage to the DNA in these individuals.

Dr. Szent-Gyorgi won the Nobel Prize in Medicine, in the 1930s for identifying vitamin C and all its many health benefits.  Although he successfully isolated the molecule ascorbic acid in his research, his studies clearly demonstrated the vastly superior benefits of consuming foods rich in vitamin C.  For this reason, even though he discovered ascorbic acid, he did not recommend its use!  In fact, Dr. Szent-Gyorgi affirmed over and over again that the best results occurred when people consumed vitamin C in its natural food form.

Yet even with these facts known, as much as 97% percent of vitamin C supplements are calcium ascorbate, ascorbic acid, magnesium ascorbate or potassium ascorbate.  Despite marketing claims, these laboratory-produced molecules are not natural vitamin C, far from it. They are chemically synthesized molecules manufactured in test tubes and often made from genetically modified corn sugar. These synthetic molecules mimic ascorbic acid, which is only one of the numerous life-supporting molecules found in 100% natural vitamin C.

Over the years, as the scientists keep uncovering the assimilation requirements of vitamin C, you may have noticed the marketeres of vitamin C adding those required factors. In 1970 synthetic ascorbic acid was sold stand alone as vitamin C; in the 80’s, scientists identified the need of zinc for human assimilation of vitamin c; the marketers proceeded to add zinc to their vitamin C supplement; by 2000 we know that vitamin A and E are required, in 2005 we know that bioflavanoids are required and the marketers are now adding these flavanoids to their formula. 

This will go on until we realize that the only way to reach full vitamin C functionality is when eating the whole green pepper. In the mean time millions of people are buying synthetic and dysfunctional vitamin C.

We are familiar with many scientific studies demonstrating vitamin C’s important health-enhancing and antioxidant benefits. What we may not know is that much of this research is conducted using foods high in vitamin C and not synthetic ascorbic acid supplements. The proven health benefits we all associate with vitamin C are actually created by the intricate interaction of numerous supportive co-factors found only in food, not in isolated, synthesized molecules. 

Test-tube vitamin C simply cannot re-create the magnificent synergy of whole-food vitamin C. This is a significant distinction. Unbiased scientists and healthcare providers consistently emphasize the importance of obtaining all our nutrients from mixed whole foods.

And what about Vitamin B?

In 1920, the vitamin B-1 compound was identified. By 1970, ten other members of the vitamin B complex had been identified, bringing the total number of B factors to eleven. Following the current supplementation industry principle, had you selected to take the newly isolated B-1 compound in 1920, you would have missed out on the rest of the B factors, which we know today, are all required to occur “together” in order to efficiently fight stress. Had you relied instead on a diet rich in b-complex vitamins, like fruits and vegetables, you would have gotten all the vitamin B factors known, including those still unknown that are yet to be identified!

How about famous Beta-Carotene!

Most micro-nutrients are found in families or complex like those of vitamin C and B. Another example is beta-carotene that is sold as a separate supplement. 

You can be certain that most beta-carotene on the market are isolated synthetic compounds made from acetylene gas! 

It’s no wonder that testing done with the synthetic form of beta-carotene produces mixed results, and even hazard to health.  In nature, beta-carotene is part of a large family of carotenoids that never occur alone.  For example, even in the carrot and tomatoes you find beside beta-carotene, other wonderful carotenoids like alpha-carotene, cantozantheen, gamma-carotene, licopene, omega-carotene, etc.  And although beta-carotene is a popular antioxidant, the unknown cantozantheen is more effective as an antioxidant then beta-carotene, while the even less known alpha-carotene is at least 20 times more effective then beta-carotene.  When isolating beta-carotene from its natural family of carotenoids, supposed experts or marketers are removing other beneficial antioxidants, and more importantly their synergistic power when working together. 

Even the American Cancer Society recommends that the best source of cancer fighting nutrients should be obtained from a diet rich in mixed fruits and vegetables.

Fortunately, more and more biochemical experts now realize that without the whole-food complex, the body does not achieve the intended nutrition. They also know that isolate vitamins and supplements lack the full complex and cannot function as claimed. On the contrary, their research is proving synthetics and isolates to cause imbalances and nutritional deficiencies, forcing the body to use its own reserves of nutrients and energy in the futile attempt to make these incomplete vitamins work.

Yet there is an ever-greater increase in the industry promotional activities for synthetic supplements.

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