In the early 1900s, with the discovery of various vitamins, the pharmaceutical industry quickly figured out ways to manufacture them in large quantities. The main use of these manufactured vitamins has been their addition to animal feed—in fact it was manufactured vitamins that made confinement agriculture possible. The other main use for these supplements is their addition to food for people, to compensate for the vitamins lost during refining. As Dr. Mary Enig once told me, leaders in the food industry really do believe that the addition of manufactured vitamins to processed foods makes these foods just as good as real foods.
The earliest example we have of food “fortification” is the addition of B vitamins to white flour. In fact, one bread manufacturer (it may have been Wonder Bread) approached Dr. Weston A. Price, asking him to endorse their white bread product; of course, he refused. How could adding a handful of synthetic compounds possibly compensate for the loss of all the vitamins and minerals in the germ and bran? After that, Price became persona non grata, labeled as a quack and ignored by academia.
Most vitamins are manufactured in China, even the “high end” or “full spectrum” ones, usually through one or more fermentation processes and with the addition of various chemicals. For example, here’s the flow chart for vitamin C manufacture:
And here’s how vitamin A is made:
The result is always a single form of the vitamin—something that never happens in nature–without the various isomers and co-factors that allow the body to use the vitamin properly.
And vitamin supplements are big business. For example, Centrum vitamins, a division of Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, reports sales of one hundred seventy million dollars per year. The main ones are
- Vitamin A: Retinyl Palmitate
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): Thiamine Mononitrate, Thiamine Hydrochloride
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): Riboflavin
- Pantothenic Acid: Calcium D-Pantothenate
- Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine):P yridoxine Hydrochloride
- Vitamin B12: Cyanocobalamin
- PABA (Para-aminobenzoic Acid): Aminobenzoic Acid
- Folic Acid: Pteroylglutamic Acid
- Choline: Choline Chloride, Choline Bitartrate
- Biotin: d-Biotin
- Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid): Ascorbic Acid
- Vitamin D: Irradiated Ergosteral, Calciferol
- Vitamin E: dl-alpha tocopherol, dl-alpha tocopherol acetate or succinate (any “dl” form of a vitamin is synthetic)
As for minerals, manufacturers tend to use the cheapest forms, such as magnesium oxide (with an absorbability rate as low as 4 percent), calcium carbonate (only a fraction absorbed) and ferrous fumarate (well absorbed, possibly leading to too much iron).
Other ingredients include:
- BHT— Butylated hydroxyanisole is a chemical preservative linked to liver, thyroid, lung, and kidney toxicity.
- Soybean Oil —a GMO product firmly linked to cancer, heart disease and other diseases.
- Sodium Benzoate—promotes cancer
- Sodium Aluminosilicate—contributes to kidney failure and cancer .
- Artificial colors such as FD&C Yellow Aluminum Lake No. 6
We need to remember that vitamin supplements and related products are new to the scene and for thousands of years, mankind got the vitamins and minerals we needed from food. For example:
- Calcium and phosphorus: raw dairy foods or the crushed bones of small animals, added to food.
- Zinc: red meat and shellfish, like oysters.
- Iodine: seafood (especially fish eggs), sea weed and butter
- Iron: liver, red meat and shellfish
- Magnesium: present in virtually all whole foods, unrefined salt
- Vitamins A and D: liver, fish livers and fish liver oils, fish eggs, fish heads, egg yolks and animal fats
- Vitamin K: aged cheese, butter, cream, poultry fat including emu oil, poultry livers, egg yolks
- Vitamin C: fermented foods like sauerkraut, fresh and dried fruit, fresh vegetables, organ meats
- B Vitamins: organ meats, pork, fruit and vegetables, raw meat and raw dairy (B6), fermented grains
- B12: liver, organ meats, shell fish (clams are a very good source), raw dairy
As much as possible, we should be getting the nutrients we need from the foods listed above. If you are elderly and slim, you may need more calcium than others, so should emphasize raw dairy. Some people have a high requirement for zinc and would benefit from including a lot of red meat in their diet. Those with adrenal fatigue require more vitamins A and C, which they can get from concentrated foods like cod liver oil and sauerkraut.
A growing trend is the use of concentrated dried foods to bolster the diet—this practice accords with the habits of traditional peoples who preserved a number of foods for later use by pounding them and allowing them to dry in the sun. We have descriptions of traditional peoples preparing powdered and dried liver and other organ meats, muscle meats, shellfish, fish eggs, fruit and tubers. Modern powdered versions of these foods allow us to consume, for example, organ meats that are impossible to obtain or difficult to eat.
Radiant Life sells desiccated heart and liver; Ancestral Supplements sells a blend of desiccated liver, heart, kidney, pancreas and spleen, plus many dried organs separately. The only one I would urge caution on is desiccated thyroid, which should probably be taken under the care of a holistic practitioner.
For those who don’t like vegetables much, check out Dr. Cowan’s Garden for nutrient-dense vegetable powders. Your best bet for vitamin C is a dried fruit rich in C, such as Amla Plus or acerola powder.
What supplements do I take? My morning regimen includes one teaspoon fermented cod liver oil taken with one-half teaspoon high-vitamin butter oil and one-half teaspoon emu oil (all mixed with a little hot water and swallowed quickly); a few tablets of Amla Plus (more during allergy season); two capsules of desiccated heart (heart disease runs in my family) and two capsules of desiccated oyster (since I can’t stand the thought of eating raw oysters). These plus a nutrient-dense diet, including lots of raw dairy products, help support a busy life, a focused mind and good sleep.