Dr. Warwick D. Raymont, Ph.D., D.Sc., Grad.Dip.Tech.Comm., M.A.C.S., M.N.Y.A.S., D.G., O.I.A.
Why should the world’s nutritional resources be monopolised by the affluent few?
This is a question that many scientists, nutritionists and conservationists are beginning to ask.
More and more people in Australia and, indeed, the western world are taking vast amounts of vitamins, most of which finds its way into the nation’s sewers with alarming speed. Few of these health conscious individuals realise that vitamin macrodoses may be more of a health hazard than taking no vitamin supplements at all!
Recent studies in Finland, for example, have revealed that people taking just 20mg of beta-carotene as a daily supplement expose themselves to a greater risk of bowel cancer than taking none at all. Vitamin A has long been known as a teratogen or a substance that may cause birth defects. Supplementation by unbalanced excesses of the B-group vitamins can actually lead to a B-group vitamin deficiency.
Vitamin C supplements, on their own, need to be taken almost hourly and in extremely large amounts to maintain a high serum ascorbate (blood vitamin C) level while vitamin E can only be taken up into the human body with any efficiency if carried by a fat or oil. Indeed, a fat-free diet can often contribute to a Vitamin E deficiency!
These examples, while in themselves true, are often used by some of the medical profession as evidence that vitamin supplementation is unnecessary. “You obtain all the vitamins you need in your normal diet!” is the catch-cry. Unfortunately, this is about as far from the truth as is the counsel from the other extreme that large quantities (macrodoses) of vitamin supplements are beneficial to one’s health. What few people realise is that the truth does not even lie somewhere between these two extremes!
Synergy - The Natural Answer
The answers to these paradoxical extremes lie in Nature. However, these natural answers are only just beginning to be recognised.
The answer is synergy and the microdose - or, simply, the synergistically balanced microdose.
A commonly understood example of this is White Willow (salix alba) bark and aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid). Since time immemorial, an infusion (tea) made from White Willow bark has been used as a traditional remedy for pain, fever and inflammation. The main active ingredient of this tea was identified, by chemists, as acetylsalicylic acid, synthesised and sold as aspirin. Unfortunately, it was later found that aspirin could cause a number of undesirable side-effects including gastric irritation and bleeding, gastrointestinal ulceration and haemmorrhage. And yet, the White Willow bark tea had no such effect. Why? The answer was found in that while the normal dose of aspirin was 600mg, as little as 10mg of aspirin in the White Willow bark tea was just as effective but without any of the undesirable side effects. This, however, posed an even greater question!
Quite naturally, many claimed that “natural” aspirin was obviously sixty times as effective as synthetic but, unfortunately, this was simply not the case. The truth, which took quite some time to emerge, was that the 10mg of “natural” aspirin was synergistically balanced with a number of other ingredients occurring naturally in the willow bark. These, in the true nature of synergy, all worked together to make the combined effect many times greater than the sum of the individual effects of each. That is the true meaning of synergy.
Synergy and synergistic balance are also essential with the B-group vitamins. In the first case, a synergistic balance is required to ensure bio-availability - how accessible each individual vitamin and the combination of vitamins is. The same balance effects bio-uptake - how efficiently the body is able to absorb these vitamins. Finally, synergistic balance is essential for bio-retention - how long the body is able to keep these vitamins before excreting them and this is probably the most important effect, or benefit, of synergistic balance with B-group vitamins.
The Macrodose -v- the Synergistically Balanced Microdose
It needs just one of the many B-group vitamins to be present in significant excess for the body to excrete them all quite rapidly. They appear in the urine in as little as thirty minutes and can be completely excreted from the body in as little as three to five hours! Classical evidence of this excretion is the appearance of vitamin B-2 (riboflavine) with its typical yellow discoloration of the urine and its readily identifiable odour. This excretion can, quite paradoxically, cause a B-group vitamin deficiency in a person taking B-group vitamin macrodoses and leave the person much worse off than having taken no vitamin supplementation whatsoever!
However, if the B-group vitamins are synergistically balanced one with another, then bio-uptake is very high and bio-retention for a day or even three is not uncommon. In this manner, a synergistically balanced microdose can provide complete B-group vitamin supplementation which is retained by the body and not readily excreted. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) suffers a similar fate. When a vitamin C macrodose is taken (hundreds or even thousands of milligrams per dose), it also appears in the urine within thirty minutes and is, as the B-group vitamins, excreted in just a few hours. The serum ascorbate (blood vitamin C) levels fluctuate dramatically as a result, seldom remaining for more than a brief time at the normal maximum of one hundred milligrams per litre.
However, when vitamin C is taken naturally (as in eating oranges), the serum ascorbate levels easily reach their maximum and remain there often for more than a full day! The reason for this is that the ascorbic acid (vitamin C) in the oranges is synergistically balanced with bioflavonoids and proanthocyanidins which ensure bio-uptake and bio-retention even in intracellular spaces! Furthermore, this is achieved with only a small fraction of the amount of vitamin C that many people take as a matter of course, further evidence of the benefit and efficacy of the synergistically balanced microdose..
The mineral calcium is another perfect example of synergistic balance. Many calcium supplements are little more than blackboard chalk and very little, if any, of that calcium ever finds its way into the bones of people in need. Calcium in this form has little, if any, significant bio-availability, and even that exhibits little bio-uptake and bio-retention is barely measurable. However, if calcium is in a human bio-available form, such as the protein-bound amino acid chelate, the bio-availability and bio-uptake are extremely high, almost complete. Then if that calcium is synergistically balanced with vitamin B-12 (cyanocobalamin) and vitamin Bc (folic acid or folate), then there is not only almost complete bio-retention, but also bio-uptake into the bones, the very place that calcium is needed! It has been reported in reputable journals that as little as ten milligrams of calcium in this form, when synergistically balanced with vitamin B-12 and folate, can result in as much calcium uptake into the bones as a full litre of full cream milk!
The world’s nutritional resources
There can be no doubt that the world’s nutritional resources are limited. There can be no justification for the world’s limited nutritional resources being monopolised by the affluent few by their wasteful, unretained macrodoses.
In contrast, the world’s nutritional resources would provide the entire population of the world with sufficient nutritional supplementation well into the twenty-first century if all limited themselves to the synergistically balanced microdose - the lesson that has been lying in Nature since the beginning of time - the lesson that has been patiently waiting for mankind to learn as the third millennium approaches.