Many years ago, when I was writing my thesis, I realised that there is a major flaw in the entire concept of taking vitamins to improve one’s health. I called it the missing link in vitamin therapy. The essential idea is that real foods contain a host of nutrients that vitamin pills do not. And we need these other nutrients — often more than the vitamin itself — for healing, prevention and cellular function. In real food, vitamins exist within a complex of interwoven, interactive and interdependent nutrients. Vitamins and multivitamins, on the other hand, do not contain this complex structure and therefore do not act as natural nutrition inside the body.
Vitamins do not work like foods, and foods are what our bodies were designed to use by virtue of evolution and biology. There is no substitute for food nutrition, and no matter how you look at it, vitamin pills are an invention of scientists, so they are prone to cause side effects, be incomplete and lack what we need to overcome our health problems.
Vitamins have been sold and marketed as the “magic bullet” for all health problems, yet food science researchers are bringing out the truth about vitamins, minerals, multivitamins and antioxidants— and it’s not an easy pill to swallow. Vitamin C is not the same as an orange or an acerola cherry; vitamin A is not the same as liver or carrots, vitamin B is not the same as brewer’s yeast or rice bran.
Here are a few basic facts about foods and vitamins
- Food contains not just vitamins, but the co-workers (synergists) and helper nutrients that allow vitamins to work
- Food is never found in high potency, so you won’t suffer any toxic side effects that have been proven to exist with ALL vitamin pills. As one expert stated, “Foods never delivers toxic doses [of vitamins]. (Hamilton, p.205)
- Vitamins are just a small part of what our bodies require for health and healing. It is very often that it is the other food properties that help us while the vitamins are secondary.
- Vitamin pills need other nutrients in order to work.
The best optimal thing to do, of course, is to merely eat a variety of whole, real, unadulterated foods. But we all know that this is not doable for most people. So, at least, it is better to consume organic, whole food supplements than it is to pop vitamin and mineral pills, whether “natural” or synthetic. But make sure that your whole food supplement isn’t “food based” or a combination of real foods and isolated vitamins. You have to carefully read the labels to see.
Look for these words to identify vitamin chemicals on a label:
- Thiamine or thiamin
- Niacin or niacinamide
- ascorbic acid
- Mixed tocopherols
Vitamins are not foods so instead of vitamins and minerals on a label, you should be looking for the names of foods and herbs on the label. Don’t be fooled by high milligrams, high potency, standardisation or any other such terms that just do not apply to real foods from nature.
Vitamin B Complex Deficiency
Vitamin B complex comprises a number of vitamins that exist as a family.
Millions of people suffer from a deficiency of vitamin B complex for several reasons
- Stress: emotional, physical and spiritual
- Processed foods in the diet: these are not real foods and so they tax the body
- Refined sugar. The average person consumes at least 140 pounds of sugar a year which robs the body of its vitamin B stores
- Drugs: both recreational and prescription drugs deplete vitamin B
- Toxins: poisons in the environment and personal care products deplete vitamin B complex
- Malnutrition. Most people are malnourished because they are not eating the right kinds of foods
- Cooking. Most people do not eat enough real, raw food, so vitamin B is killed or so depleted that people are not getting enough of it in the diet
Do You Have Any Of These Symptoms?
Once your body has been deprived of the vitamin B, it begins to show symptoms (signs) of altered, diminished or poor health. This is because the vitamin B complex in whole is needed for a wide array of functions, including cellular differentiation, transmission of nerve electricity, health of nerve cells, heart pulse rate, muscular contraction, digestion, brain function, thought processes and energy production.
Without adequate vitamin B complex from foods, you can experience one or more of any one of these symptoms
- mental problems
- heart palpitations
- heart arrhythmias
- chronic fatigue
- chronic exhaustion
- paranoia, vague fears, fear that something dreadful is about to happen
- nervousness and/or anxiety
- ADD (attention deficiency), inability to concentrate, irritability
- feeling of uneasiness
- thoughts of dying
- easy agitation, frustration
- inability to sleep (insomnia)
- tingling in hands, fingers and/or toes
- crying spells, inability to cope
- soreness all over
- and so much more.
Chronic Vitamin B Deficiency
Medical researchers have discovered that very often there may be no detectable signs according to scientific instrumentation, yet you are still experiencing a deficiency. For example, “memory impairment due to vitamin B12 deficiency can precede blood symptoms of deficiency by years. Evidence that vitamin B12 deficiency accounts for some cognition deficits in older people comes from a study that revealed abnormal short-term memory in more than two-thirds of clients with pernicious anaemia…The researchers recommend that a diagnosis of senile dementia should not be made, even in the absence of anaemia, until vitamin B12 status is determined biochemically.” (Hamilton, p. 476) Certain mental disorders can be directly attributable to vitamin B complex deficiency, and it is easier to first start replenishing stores of vitamin B complex than to begin treating difficult mental illnesses with drugs, therapy or psychological counseling.
What You Can Do To Help Yourself
There are a number of things you can do to prevent and overcome vitamin B complex deficiency:
- Stop taking vitamin pills and switch over to a non-GMO, organic whole food product.
- Stop eating refined sugar. It depletes vitamin B, and creates a host of other health problems.
- Stop eating artificial ingredients. Read all labels on your foods and if there are names of chemicals, don’t eat them. Switch to organic foods.
- Reduce stress through a regular exercise program, meditation, counselling and/or hobbies
- Stop drinking coffee; switch to organic decaffeinated coffee or organic green tea
- Eat more vitamin B-containing foods — oats, barley, wheat bran, avocado, salmon, Brazil nuts and others.
- Be patient. It takes a while to create a vitamin B deficiency, so it takes a while to reverse the problem; with severe cases it can take a year or so, with milder cases it can take just a few days.
Written by Vic Shayne, Ph.D.