Funny enough, when we learn our ABCs we might say “A is for Apple, B is for Berry, C is for Cherry…but we don't learn about vitamins A, B or C until many years later, if at all. This means that we have only a hazy idea of how important they are to us or where they comes from or even what they are.
That stops here because today I want to fill in the gap left by our schooling and show you how important your ABC of vitamins really is.
What Are Vitamins Anyway?
Before we get to our ABC we need to clarify what vitamins really are.
Vitamins were discovered around 1900. One by one scientists found that there were unknown ingredients in food, something that was so important that animals and people die if it is missing from their diets.
Poor diets were found to lead to disease and death and one by one as the cases were studied the missing nutrient was found to be a vitamin.
Scientists found that there were several of these missing “somethings” and they then had to be given a name. The first name given was “vitamine” which was short for “vital amine” and then the letters of the alphabet were used so we ended up with A,B,C,D,E…all the way up to K.
And then the first major mistake was spotted! Vitamins were called “vital” meaning essential to life and that's correct but an “amine” is a member of the ammonia family and in a chemical formula looks like NH2 where N is for Nitrogen and H is hydrogen.
Problem is that vitamins are not amines so the very first step into Vitamin science was on quicksand and ended up with a quick correction.
A “political” correction was made – they kept the name and just knocked the final “e” of the word!
So now we call them “vitamins”.
Vital to Life
But food is vital to life – we know that without eating we get weaker, hungrier, lose weight and eventually lose consciousness and lose life.
Food supplies us with energy which we measure in calories and nutrients which we know as vitamins and other nutrients.
Scurvy is an interesting example of a disease we can get if we eat insufficient amounts of vitamin C. The disease was first described by Hippocrates who was writing hundreds of years B.C and yet 2,000 years later scientists were still unsure what the cause was. The cure was simple and had been proven many times and yet Doctors ignored the evidence.
And this was not a rare disease either as this quote from the Wiki shows “Between 1500 and 1800, it has been estimated that scurvy killed at least two million sailors ”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scurvy
And how to cure this awful disease? Easily according to Johann Bachstrom an 18th C Polish Pastor here is the cure…
“scurvy is solely owing to a total abstinence from fresh vegetable food, and greens; which is alone the primary cause of the disease ”
Which is of course, correct.
I could fill this entire blog post with similar cases, stories and proofs of how vitamins were found to cure disease.
And rather than do that I want to focus now on how much vitamin C we need – so we will look at a few numbers and see how they can help you know how much of the vitamins you need to not just avoid obvious disease but to healthy enough to thrive.
Not knowing this is why many people nowadays have scurvy – but more of that in a minute – we need some details to be able to use this information powerfully to boost our own health.
How Much and When?
We've seen that a major killer disease was found to be caused by a deficiency of a vitamin – in this case we are looking at vitamin C.
The next thing we need to know is how much vitamin C to use – how many milligrams of vitamin C do we need and does everybody need the same amount?
The surprising answer is that it all depends on where you live! Every government has a health and nutrition board that makes recommendations for the healthy functioning of its people.
Of course the people who get to sit on these boards are all Nutrition experts…oops that should be obvious but it does not quite work out that way. In fact the members of government committees are people who have the time and inclination for the paperwork and who are politically acceptable.
Very often the real experts don't fit into these requirements and the resulting recommendations show all the signs of official data they are out of date and ignore important scientific research.
In Canada, the US, UK, India and Australia – to mention the main English speaking countries the “Official” recommendations for daily vitamin C intake for an adult are…
Adult Dosage mg
United States of America
60 to 95
In addition, just to show you that this is a political issue, there are values recommended by the World Health Organisation and the European Union which are 45 and 80 mg respectively.
Altogether then "Official" sources say that we should take an amount between 40 mg and 95 mg !
And remember we are only looking at vitamin C values, we will find a similar divergence of view with every other nutrient!
So who is right?
What is a person going to do here? Well the practical answer is,”Ask an expert!” and my definition of an expert is someone who is trained in Nutritional science and treatment and that answer will take you to people who use Nutrition with their patients.
That excludes the vast majority of Medical Doctors and includes Naturopathic Doctors and Nutritional Therapists and some Chiropractors and Herbalists.
It may surprise you that most Medical Doctors are not taught Nutritional Medicine but that reflects the situation. They are taught a lot of Drug Therapy and little to no Food and Nutritional Therapy.
Expert Opinion On Vitamin C
If my discussion on who is an expert does not quite convince you then let me refer you to the expert above all others on vitamin C; someone who is, you might say, the expert of experts…
And that is Dr Linus Pauling – yes the Linus Pauling with 2 Nobel Prizes. He recommended we take 2000 mg a day and that is what I take.
What I noticed in my time as a Nutrition student is that the more Nutrition people knew the more vitamin C they took. It was pretty common for us to take 4000 or 5000 mg a day and to do so for years.
I have taken these doses for decades now and have enjoyed almost perfect health.
A last word on the Official dosage.
Why do the officials get it so wrong? Part of the answer is politics and part is that they do not use Nutritional therapy on a daily basis with patients and simply do not base their recommendations on practical knowledge but on theoretical requirements about how much is needed for a white blood cell and how much is needed to help absorb iron in the diet and so forth.
Real practical advice for a adult seeking good health usually concludes with doses of 2000 mg upwards.
In the next post we look deeper into the ABC of Vitamins click here to read more.
Photo credits RubyGoes