VITAMIN C - THE MASTER NUTRIENT
Preface | Foreword | Introduction | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 | Chapter 13 | Bibliography
Vitamin C and Optimal Health
Who is NOT interested in achieving the OPTIMUM in every aspect of their life and that of their loved ones? It is an absurdity to imagine that ANYONE would willingly choose ill-health, disease and suffering, rather than vibrant health, happiness and prosperity. Given the unique determinants of who we are and what our particular situation is, what can we do to create what we really want in all aspects of our lives? The answer goes far beyond any single component alone – diet, supplements, subtle energies, exercise, spiritual work – and yet must embrace an individually determined synergistic totality of all these elements. Despite the multitude of advertising claims emanating from an almost limitless source of products, services and psychological and spiritual practices, the "magical" answer to whatever you want in your life will not be the latest vitamin or mineral discovery that comes in a bottle, or the newest form of spiritual awareness practice, or the most sophisticated form of food abstinence or combining dietary regime. Any or all of these products may be instrumental, indeed essential to your goal, but in the final analysis, it is YOU who plans, decides and implements your own life path.
Each one of us is unique in so many ways – genetically, metabolically, nutritionally, emotionally, spiritually – the combination of food and lifestyle which works for a Norman Cousins(59) or a Louise Hay(100) will not necessarily work for you. And, the proof of the wisdom of these and many more individuals, including authors Cheraskin(54) and Pauling(166), is that they emphatically recommend that each person discover and develop what works for them. There are general guidelines of diet, supplements and exercise which are a good place from which to start. This book has considered in great detail many of the therapeutic aspects of Vitamin C, one invaluable component to almost any health and life enhancing regime. This chapter will consider some of the other vital ingredients and practices which together might constitute and/or supplement your personal programme to optimal well-being.
Attitude Toward Health and Practitioners
Your role in your health programme is most crucial. Are you simply the body that gets sick, and the doctor the one who heals you? Do you follow your doctor's orders religiously without even questioning what he is prescribing for you? Do you know the potential side effects of medications you are taking, and what would happen if you didn't take them? Do you participate in formulating your own health care regime? Do you exercise the same degree of consumer awareness, common sense and discrimination in choosing your practitioner as you do in buying a carpet, a stereo, or even considering the colour and design of new wallpaper?
It is truly shocking that many people place themselves totally in the hands of their doctors and completely abdicate responsibility for their own health. There is a belief that doctors, by virtue of their training, know everything about everyone. The idea of questioning or even having a conversation about any proposed treatment with one's doctor is considered almost heresy. Yet, doctors are the first to admit that they are fallible, human, overworked, do not have adequate time to look into many contributory aspects of illness, and are not generally trained in nutrition, counselling, bereavement, etc. What do we expect of doctors? They are not superhuman. How can they know more about ourselves than we do? They have not lived within our bodies. Doctors generally are well-trained and technically proficient within their particular speciality. The best physicians are also superbly humane, compassionate, empathetic and realize that the efficacy of their medicine depends to a large degree upon the patient's state of mind, will to live and other intangible qualities.
One of the most important components in your health programme is your choice of health practitioner(s). The form of this could vary enormously, from a single general practitioner or orthomolecular physician to a team of complementary therapists upon whom you call upon as necessary. It is wise to build a good support network in all aspects of your life – including health. The paradigm of health care which appears optimal, in my opinion, would place the individual in the centre of a circle, surrounded by the entire range of health options available, including twentieth century sophisticated technology, traditional herbs, nutritional and botanical medicine, acupuncture, homeopathy, counselling and spiritual healing. The most appropriate therapies would be arrived at by a "matching" of the components of these therapies with the individual's condition, his nature and personality. The day is eagerly awaited when consultations across health disciplines can cross fertilize and optimize the course of treatment for the individual concerned, who might choose to take Vitamin C, homeopathic remedies and healing to counterbalance the trauma of a serious operation.
Your health programme ought to include numerous elements – diet(234), supplements, exercise, relaxation. At times when stressed you might need additional therapeutic support – massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, homeopathy, counselling, aromatherapy. YOU are at the centre of your life. Only you can make the decisions about what therapy and which therapist to choose. And although personal recommendations may be invaluable, only you can determine, perhaps with difficulty, whether what you are choosing is working. Except in cases of dire mortal illness, we can usually choose another option. If we are "terminally" ill, we can still make decisions which affect the quality of the remainder of our lives, and strive to make peace with ourselves and feel gratitude for the many blessings we have experienced. To be realistic, in one sense we are all "terminal", and to live each day of our lives with this recognition would enhance the planet immeasurably. The following health practice information is put forward for your consideration, contemplation and perhaps your consumption, if you see fit. None of it should be regarded as rigid – merely as guidelines.
General Dietary Guidelines
There are a multitude of diets each of which espouse a particular way of considering, preparing and eating food(135). These range from the high carbohydrate, low protein, low fat Pritikin diet, the raw food Gerson cancer diet, the brown rice and vegetable, yin/yang balanced Macrobiotic cancer diet, vegetarian diets, to simple low calorie starvation diets. What you eat represents a lot more than simply calories or biochemical nutrients – it also constitutes the nuts and bolts which build your body. The old computer adage "garbage in – garbage out" applies especially to the food which you eat. Its quality and freshness will nourish more than your hunger pangs. It goodness will reverberate onto more subtle levels of your being, and provide the sustenance to build and maintain a strong, healthy body. The following are a series of sensible dietary guidelines which will hopefully enhance both your health and happiness:
1. Eat a wide variety of food, especially fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains, which you enjoy. Buy produce which is free of pesticides or other toxic chemicals.
2. Prepare food in ways that do not deplete nutrients. Steam vegetables or eat them raw.
3. Eat more fish and chicken than red meats.
4. Eat butter rather than margarine; virgin and cold-pressed oils for salads and frying.
5. Drastically reduce consumption of or avoid altogether, sugar, coffee and alcohol. Do not smoke.
6. Discover your particular food allergies and avoid those foods.
7. Enjoy and celebrate food, present your meals in an aesthetically pleasing manner and eat with appreciation and gratitude.
There seem to be two extreme, "all or nothing" views regarding supplementation:
1. Take every vitamin, mineral, amino acid in creation – the more the merrier and in particular combination formulae;
2. No supplements – get all nutrients from food;
Somewhere between these extremes probably lies the sensible answer for most people. In an ideal world, with pristine water, environment, stress-free, we COULD perhaps obtain what we need from our food. However, as we all know, our world is far from ideal – our water and air are fouled with pollution, toxic chemicals, our soil is depleted of vital minerals and nutrients. The prepared food we buy is refined and processed out of most of its nutritional value. The jobs we have and lifestyles we lead create health-destroying stress, contributing to further deterioration of our health. Fascinating research isrevealing how our state of mind can influence almost every organ system in the body. Even parameters of how we utilize Vitamin C can apparently be modulated by our state of mind. For example, Dr. Russell Jaffe recounts the finding that the half-life of Vitamin C is 4 days rather than 4 hours in his friend, a 108 year old Buddhist monk (Personal Communication).
The following are merely general guidelines of supplements. Explore and validate your personal supplement regime with an othomolecular physician. Due to the complex interactions amongst the various vitamins and minerals, it is important to REALLY know what nutrients you ought to take at any particular time. Also, as your condition changes you may want to vary the nature of your supplementation programme.
Vitamin A (or Beta Carotene) – 25,000 I.U.
Vitamin B Complex – 25 – 50 mg.
Vitamin C – 3 – 6 gm.
Vitamin E – 500 – 1000 I.U. – Note that the most effective form of Vitamin E is the Unesterified Mixed Tocopherol Concentrate. Esterified, d-alpha tocopheryl acetate, or synthetic dl forms of Vitamin E are not fully effective as an antioxidant.
Take a balanced multi-mineral supplement, including macro and trace minerals.
Zinc – 25 – 50 mg
Essential Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acid supplement – linoleic, linolenic, Evening Primrose Oil, Fish oil.
Other Useful Substances, as Required
Herbs and Chinese Herbs
To view exercise as mere activity to burn off calories or keep your cardiovascular system fit is short-changing yourself. With the entire spectrum of recreational activities on tap, it should be possible to choose activities you genuinely RELISH and do them with gusto. Whether it be dancing, walking, golf, tennis, skiing or trampoline bouncing to music, enjoyment is an added bonus which significantly benefits both health and psyche. Exercise, in addition to its cardiovascular benefits, also strengthens the immune system and releases beneficial neurohormones which aid in relaxation.
Walking, especially while taking deep breaths, is a time-honoured tonic to mind body and spirit. While certain individuals may crave and even require the physical exhaustion that marathon runs engender, every person is unique. Exercises such as walking, yoga and Tai Chi can be combined with relaxation and meditation practices to enhance the beneficial effects to health.
Emotional and Spiritual Well-Being
How we feel about ourselves, our self-esteem, our ability to cope with daily living situations – these have a tremendous influence upon our health, our happiness, even our financial prosperity. The medical literature abounds with correlations between the stresses of lifestyle changes, divorce and bereavement and the detrimental effects to our health. Profiles of Type A personalities being more prone to heart attacks, the assessment of personality profiles for other diseases such as cancer, and even the esoteric causes of illnesses are being compiled(100). Norman Cousins in his book "The Healing Heart"(59) graphically describes how overwhelming feelings of panic can be when even someone like himself, a so-called expert in positive mental attitude, is faced with a life-threatening illness.
On a practical level, what can we do when we get angry, frustrated or devastated? Very often the people who need to cry most are those who are unable to, those who need to vent their anger insist they are never angry, or the people who are loneliest retreat deeper and deeper into solitude. Our feelings and aspirations are an integral part of who we are and to disown or disavow them is to kill a beautiful component of our life. Expressing our rage in ways that don't harm others, sharing our vulnerability and hopelessness, being courageous to be ourselves, these are practices which will certainly be reflected in our greater health and happiness.
Vitamin C and Ester-CR Ascorbate Compared
The market place abounds with a variety of forms of Vitamin C: plain ascorbic acid in crystals, tablets, capsules or timed-release capsules; mineral ascorbates (sodium and calcium ascorbate); food or "natural" sources of Vitamin C: Sago Palm, Rose Hips Acerola, Beet, Citrus. Once inside the body's biochemical factory, these are all the same substance – Vitamin C. The experts such as Linus Pauling and Robert Cathcart have been arguing this for years, and yet some consumers are being persuaded to pay significantly more for "natural source" Vitamin C. There is a difference with Ester-CR ascorbate, because Ester-C is the only form of Vitamin C which has included naturally-occurring, body-ready metabolites, metabolites, which enhance and potentize the effects of Vitamin C.
The pharmaceutical promise of these metabolites is only in its infancy. It is quite possible that in the future we will be able to purchase metabolites which may have modulating effects upon other substances in addition to Vitamin C.
Seeing More Clearly: Vitamin C and Cataracts
Recent biochemical and epidemiological research reveals that Vitamin C may be a significant protective factor in preventing cataract formation, and in promoting healthy eye tissues(141). Ascorbic acid levels are high in ocular tissues, and Vitamin C has been postulated to act as a protector against oxidation and free radical damage. In fact, with progessing cataract, Vitamin C levels decline, not from a reduction in the supply of ascorbic acid, but rather due to a rapid oxidation of Vitamin C.
It has been known that during autoxidation of ascorbic acid solutions, the colour changes from transparent to dark brown, very much like to the changes observed in lenses during cataract formation. Reports from University of Western Ontario compared 175 cataract patients with 175 age-and sex-matched cataract-free controls. The only significant difference between the groups was their intake of Vitamins E and C. Vitamin E intake was associated with a 56% lower cataract risk, while Vitamin C intake correlated with a 70% lower risk than those who took no vitamins. These human studies confirm results from earlier animal studies which demonstrated the protective effects of Vitamin E against cataract formation in diabetic rats. Another epidemiological study showed that high levels of anti-oxidants Vitamins E, C and beta carotene exerted a protective effect against cataract formation.
Thus, the benefits of Vitamin C may actually be visible, as well as tangible and palpable.
A Final Word About Vitamin C
For all of Vitamin C's considerable therapeutic properties, it is not a panacea that will automatically cure all ills. Having said this, however, it is hard to think of any other substance which is superior to Vitamin C in its preventive and therapeutic capacities. Here we have a safe, natural, inexpensive and integral component of many of the body's systems which manages our cholesterol levels, strengthens the immune system, builds stronger bones, modulates our hormones, reverses heart disease and kills viruses, even the deadly AIDS virus. Plain ascorbic acid, timed release ascorbic acid, mineral ascorbates, Ester-CR ascorbate – tailor your choice of Vitamin C upon your personal needs and experience, but don't leave home without it!