Do we need to take vitamin pills to be healthy?


We are reading a lot these days on the new scientific discoveries about vitamins and minerals. Some of these reports confuse me. Are the vitamins and minerals in pill form the same as nutrients in food, or is there a difference? Do we need to take vitamin pills to be healthy?

Answer by Michael Dye

Vitamins and nutrition have become hot topics these days. News media, books, health food stores and advertising campaigns are educating us about why we need vitamins and minerals. It is encouraging to see an increased realization of the role nutrients play in preventative health-care and in helping the body to heal itself with a strengthened immune system.

But we get a lot of misinformation on this subject from those who profit from the manufacture, distribution or advertising of the multi-billion dollar synthetic vitamin and processed foods industries. Let's take a look at what modern science knows about nutrition, what we are being told about nutrition, what we are not being told about nutrition... and why:

Talking Apples and Oranges

  • The result of the influence from the big business of synthetic vitamins and processed food is a neglect of any distinction between natural vitamins and synthetic vitamins. For example, we are generally not told there is any difference between the Vitamin C in a fresh apple or orange versus the Vitamin C in a pharmaceutically-manufactured, synthetic pill, or synthetic vitamins added to "enrich" or "fortify" processed foods, such as white bread and sugar-coated cereal.
  • In most of this mass-disseminated wisdom of modern medical science, you also find no distinction between nutrients that are dead and nutrients that are alive. We are told to eat our fruits and vegetables, but we are not told there is a difference between a fresh, living, raw carrot and one that has been boiled, baked, steamed, radiated... or processed, preserved and canned on a grocery shelf.
  • Another point overlooked is the essential fact that our body is a living organism made of living cells that are constantly regenerating ... and that living cells need living food to create healthy new living cells. Scientists understand and accept the fact that the life of our body stems from the life of some 100 trillion living cells that are constantly regenerating. It is estimated that 300 million cells are replaced in our body every minute. 

We know the food we eat, the liquids we drink and the air we breathe provide the energy and the building blocks for this massive, ongoing rebuilding of cells. We know that raw vegetables and fruits are composed of living cells, and that the cells of these fruits and vegetables contain the same organic minerals, natural vitamins, living enzymes and assimiable protein that our cells need. We also know that cooking, freezing, radiating or processing kills food, stopping its cellular activity ... and that once we have taken the life from food, there is nothing we can do that can restore that life. This irreversible change alters amino acids (protein) and minerals, and destroys all enzymes and most vitamins.

But despite what we know, there are those who would like us to believe processed foods are as beneficial to us as raw, living food, and that synthetic vitamins in pills and processed foods are as good as natural vitamins in raw food. The truth is that modern science knows relatively little about the long-term effects of how man-made chemicals and altered natural substances interact with our bodies on the cellular level. Warnings have been issued about the dangers of high doses of synthetic Vitamin C, B1 and A, and similar problems are suspected with synthetic Vitamin E. It's possible that a short-term boost may be felt from some synthetic vitamins. But let's address the question of whether they can take the place of living nutrients in supplying material for our cells to function, regenerate new living cells and build a healthy immune system. There appear to be three schools of thought on this comparison between natural nutrients in fresh, raw food versus synthetic vitamins and inorganic minerals.

The first school is characterized by a total silence on the subject of any distinction between natural and synthetic. They'll say a pill has X number of international units of certain vitamins, and they may say what these vitamins are good for. You may notice one of these little pills has a lot more Vitamin C than an apple or orange. But they make no claim about whether X amount of synthetic Vitamin C is as good as the same amount of Vitamin C in oranges. They also avoid the subject of whether a person could live healthily on synthetic vitamins alone without ever consuming natural vitamins in food.

The second school of thought includes "experts" who recommend synthetic vitamin supplements, but warn we should also eat a balanced diet. Some of these experts acknowledge food is a more "reliable source" of nutrients than vitamins found in pills. But they don't explain the difference, and they still say we should take the synthetic supplements, just in case we don't get enough nutrients in our diet.

The third school of thought is a minority opinion. This school teaches that there is a major difference between live food and dead food (or live nutrients and dead nutrients), and that the living cells in our bodies are designed to be nourished by live food and live nutrients, rather than dead, processed food and synthetic vitamins.

Science has substantiated the superior nutritional value of raw fruits and vegetables, but this emphasis on live foods is still a minority opinion among nutritionists and even in the health food business. From almost every direction, we are told that cooked, frozen and processed food is comparable to fresh, raw food, and that synthetic vitamins can fill our nutritional needs.

How could we ever comprehend an explanation for this tremendous lapse in mass-disseminated scientific knowledge if we didn't consider the fact that there is more money to be made from selling synthetic vitamins and processed foods than from raw, live food that can be grown in a backyard garden.

A book from six decades ago is more advanced than some of the latest scientific work with vitamins. Dr. Norman W. Walker wrote Fresh Vegetable and Fruit Juices in 1936, with the premise that a deficiency of vitamins, minerals and enzymes is the primary cause of practically all sickness. Dr. Walker was seriously ill in his early 50's when he was encouraged to try natural healing. He went on to develop the concept of healing with fresh vegetable and fruit juices, and lived to be 119 years old, writing his last book at age 115. Dr. Walker taught all healing and regeneration of the body must come from within. Hippocrates, the Fourth Century B.C. Greek physician who is the Father of Medicine, based his teachings on this same principle. To best nourish our immune system, Dr. Walker taught we should eat a vegetarian diet composed predominately of fresh, raw vegetables, fruits, seeds and nuts. He agreed with nutritionists who say it is difficult to get optimal amounts of some nutrients from eating food. Advocates of synthetic vitamins use this as an argument for taking mega-doses of vitamin pills. Dr. Walker's teachings are more advanced than these modern nutritionists because he recognized the difference between live nutrients and dead nutrients.

Dr. Walker developed Juice Therapy as a means of consuming more nutrients than can be obtained by eating food. In drinking fresh juice, nutrients come from live, raw vegetables and fruits, without heating, freezing or other processing that would alter or destroy nutrients. When juice is separated from the pulp (or fiber), most of the nutrients from these raw vegetables and fruits stay in the juice, while the pulp is expelled and discarded. Without the pulp, the nutrients can go directly to the blood stream and to the cellular level without the time and energy-consuming process of digestion. And because the pulp has been removed, we can consume a much larger quantity of nutrients than would be possible by eating that same food. For example, we can consume nutrients from a pound of raw carrots in minutes by drinking an 8-fluid-ounce glass of carrot juice.

Contrasting Juice Therapy with synthetic nutrients, Dr. Walker states, "One pint of carrot juice, daily, has more constructive body value than 25 pounds of calcium tablets." He notes the calcium in pasteurized milk "is just as inorganic as that used in making cement."

Medical science knows we need calcium to build strong bones, but we also know the inorganic calcium we put into our bodies can form kidney stones, gall stones, tumors and calcium deposits in joints, while leaving our bones deficient in calcium. This paradox could be explained if orthodox medical science would acknowledge the difference between inorganic calcium (which our bodies can't use) and organic calcium (found, for example, in raw carrots or green, leafy vegetables.)

Dr. Walker, a doctor of science, was among the first to differentiate between organic and inorganic minerals. He offered an example to explain this distinction simple enough for a six-year-old to understand. Dr. Walker noted the Earth is full of minerals, but the only source of organic minerals our bodies can assimilate is from plants. We know we can't eat a scoop of dirt and get nutrition from minerals in the earth. That's because these minerals are inorganic. The only means of turning inorganic minerals from the earth into organic minerals we can assimilate is through plants and their photosynthesis. Plants take in these dead, inorganic minerals through their roots and transform them into living, organic minerals we can use. Heat from cooking returns these minerals to their dead, inorganic form.

In their book, Fit For Life II: Living Health, Harvey and Marilyn Diamond emphasize: "It is physiologically impossible for your body to use an inorganic mineral... Anyone who knows biochemistry and physiology knows this to be true ... chemically an organic mineral is the same as an inorganic one. But there the similarities cease," because inorganic minerals have not been organically processed by plants.

Nutrients Don't Work Alone

Modern science is also learning more about the ways in which minerals, vitamins, amino acids and enzymes work together, and in relationship with other factors, ranging from pH (acidity and alkalinity) to stress. The more we know about nutrients, the more we realize they don't work on their own as isolated chemical compounds. Minerals in their natural form (in raw foods), are always combined with specific amino acids, and sometimes with vitamins, in a process known as chelation. Our bodies are designed to consume minerals in chelated form.

Amino acids and enzymes also have a vital working relationship. While amino acids (which make up protein) provide building material for our cells, enzymes are the life forces that do the building. Promoters of synthetic vitamins and processed foods don't talk much about enzymes, because they are found only in living organisms (including raw food). Enzymes are a vital element of nutrition. They are the catalyst for all chemical changes in our body, such as digestion of food, sending oxygen from the lungs to our blood and cells, body movement, synthesizing proteins from amino acids to make muscle, and even thinking. Vitamins and minerals work together to help these enzymes function, and are sometimes referred to as "co-enzymes." Those who depend solely on cooked food and synthetic vitamins for nutrition will be deficient in enzymes.

We also know some nutrients are necessary for the absorption of other nutrients, but modern science has just begun to discover the interrelationships that exist between these nutrients. So, our goal should be to ensure that our body has a sufficient, balanced supply of all necessary nutrients in natural form, rather than focusing on just one specific vitamin...

...You don't need a Ph.D. to figure out man-made synthetic nutrients are not the equivalent to natural. How much education should it take for a scientist to know a mega-dose of synthetic Vitamin C in pill form is not superior (or even equal) to a smaller amount of Vitamin C in fresh, natural food? And although the nutritional claims may be identical, how much reasoning is required to know that a tin can of processed and preserved vegetables from a grocery store does not contain the same benefit to your body as live, raw vegetables? Promoters of synthetic vitamins and processed foods expect us to ignore our common sense and scientific fact when they offer man-made or altered products as the nutritional equivalent to the natural foods from which our bodies were designed to be nourished.

Raw vegetables and fruits are the perfect source of the live nutrients our living cells need. The chemical complexities of nutrition on the cellular level are such that it is futile to attempt to duplicate this in a laboratory. Our bodies are not designed to obtain nutrition in pill form, and we are being misled when we are told otherwise. It should be equally obvious that when food has been cooked (killed), processed and preserved, it is not of the same nutritional value as it was when it was alive, despite what the label claims...

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