I first got clued in to the power of vitamins and other food supplements when I suffered an attack of asthma in my mid-thirties. I was used to asthma as a childhood disease but had gone a long time without puffing and struggling for breath and I was determined to do something to deal with it.
I knew from my experience of inhalers and asthma "tablets" that conventional medicine did not work so I went looking elsewhere and found that I was advised to use vitamins, minerals and other food supplements. And they worked! The asthma and dermatitis that I was also struggling with – just vanished – never to return. Writing this 30 years later I know that vitamins and other supplemental tablets work well when expertly prescribed and often miss the mark completely when used or tried without using the right dose and the optimum procedure.
In fact I was so impressed with the ability of vitamins and minerals to help people solve their health problems that I studied first as a nutrition consultant and later as a Naturopath. So in this 2 part article I want to share some information to help with why we should take extra vitamins and then with how we should take them.
What About the Vitamins In My Meals?
The vitamins and other nutrients in the tablets I started taking were not any different from those in the food I was eating – so why did they work when my "diet vitamins" did not? I would need a complete scientific breakdown and analysis of the diet I was eating then to answer that completely and such an analysis is not available, but here are some answers I can give now. How Much Vitamin C is there in your diet?
At the time of my illness – I had several months of asthma before I started my nutrient programme, I was working as a College Teacher of Physics. And as a Physicist I appreciated numbers, indeed part of my job had been teaching maths too! So if we look at the numbers in my case – we would see that my diet provided an initial amount of each vitamin and mineral and so forth and my nutrient programme ramped that up.
In some cases the increase was huge. In the case of vitamin C for example the average daily intake for a male of vitamin C is around 100 mg or one tenth of a gram. And now let's compare that to what my supplements gave me… One of the tablets I started taking had 1 gram of vitamin C – so immediately I began taking vitamins my vitamin C intake went up ten-fold. No wonder my asthma vanished!
One thing I noticed as I studied Nutrition was that the more advanced nutrition students were in their courses the more vitamin C they took! The official government advice is around 70 to 100 milligram and beginner nutrition students will often take 500 mg to 1000 mg.
Then they move on to 2000 or 3000 mg. Linus Pauling, the pioneer of so much research on vitamin C took various amounts through his life – as much as 19 grams a day at one point. But later on in his life he settled down to taking around 12 grams a day.
My advice is to optimise your diet and then use at least 3 to 5 grams a day vitamin C and to double or treble this amount if you get a cold or some other infection. This gives the body the resources it needs to power up and defeat the virus or other infective agent. Taking extra amounts of selected vitamins and minerals is a sensible and prudent response to global problems of pollution and industrialised farming.
The meals we eat do not have the perfect theoretical amount of vitamins in the first place. The best way to so this is to work with an experienced Nutritionist or Naturopath who will design a nutrition programme according to your needs and circumstances.
The Answer Lies in the Soil
The vitamins and minerals are only present in our crops if the soil is rich enough and functioning properly. That depends on the mineral and microbe content of the soil and on the amount of ploughing and fertiliser used. It's complex and assuming that all this is prefect and you can get the theoretically perfect amount of nutrients in the food plants we grow is wildly silly.
I eat the best I can and then add to that with the food supplements I use. It is not a matter of "I eat good food so I don't need vitamin tablet". Rather it is "I eat good food as well as good food supplements".
We have challenges the early pioneering scientists did not dream of when they were discovering vitamins and essential fatty acids and other nutrients. We adapt to current conditions by taking extra stress busting nutrients such magnesium to help us relax, flax for our omega 3 needs and more vitamin C to increase the strength of our bones and our immune system – both under massive challenge from modern lifestyles.
The best way to think of this is as a boost to our food intake. Sometimes people say that they don't like "Taking tablets" and my answer to that is…"Neither do I but the choice is to take these nutrition tablets or you'll likely have to take drug tablets from the pharmacy prescribed by a medical doctor.
That's a "no brainer" for most people.
We take well thought out food supplements to get the edge we need to meet the demands on us. Getting this very special help is a blessing that once realised and understood you will not want to go without. I hope that helps to make sense of why we take vitamins and other nutrients.
Next in part 2 of this article we'll look at how to take them. There are pros and cons in taking minerals and vitamins and having a good look at those helps us choose wisely and not waste our money.