Understanding Vitamins and Minerals

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body. Though it seems like everyone is supplementing their diet with some form of calcium, most people are deficient. Your body can’t process calcium if you don’t have enough magnesium and you can’t absorb calcium without ample stores of vitamin D. You need vitamin K to regulate your blood calcium. And if you don’t have enough calcium, you won’t be able to process zinc. If you don’t have enough zinc, you won’t be able to process vitamin A.

Too much calcium can reduce the effectiveness of vitamin A and magnesium, and can cause anxiety (while too little causes depression). Also, people taking too much (and the especially wrong kind) of calcium are calcifying their soft tissue. And if your diet is acidic, your body is going to pull minerals (especially calcium) from wherever it can get it (teeth, bones, organs, etc.) to keep your blood at its proper, slightly alkaline pH (read more about this in Acid vs. Alkalinity).

To make the issue more confusing, most of the calcium supplements on the market are not digestible. Some of them are downright toxic; they can cause kidney stones or a host of other problems. Got milk? Well, throw it out. You and your family don’t need to be drinking that toxic soup of antibiotics, pesticides, and bovine growth hormones. Even if you buy organic milk, it’s a dead pasteurized food. Besides, although milk does contain calcium, even the Harvard School of Public Health questions whether it’s the best source.

That’s just calcium. We could go on and on with every other vitamin, mineral, or other essential nutrient in similar fashion.

Vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and most of our other nutrients are all about balance. Growing strong and healthy bones is not as simple as taking a calcium pill. Let’s take a look at other vitamins and minerals to see what some of their roles are.

Minerals are found in rocks and soil. Plants get their minerals from the soil in which they are grown. If you grow the same vegetable in the ground year after year, the ground becomes deficient in the particular minerals that vegetable needs for development. Consequently the vegetable becomes deficient and so do the creatures that depend on it for nutrition. Through crop rotation, we replenish the soil. This is why crop rotation is so important.

Vitamins and minerals are necessary to sustain life and must be obtained from food because they are either not made in the body at all, or are not made in sufficient quantities. Even if you only eat organic, remember big business has joined the industry and is now growing organic foods, using mono-cropping methods (without crop rotation). The organic label does not guarantee that produce was grown in nutrient rich soil. GMOs are invading organic fields and contaminating organic seed stores and the FDA has just authorized irradiating lettuce and spinach (regardless of whether or not it is organic).

While it was previously stated that we should consume five to nine servings of raw fruits and vegetables per day, the National Academy of Science now states that we should double that amount due the decreased nutrient content of our food. But compared to 50 years ago, many foods don’t have 50% of their former nutrition; they have 10% or less. In addition, toxins so easily accumulated in our modern society, require us to consume even more nutrients for optimum health.

Obviously it can be very difficult to get enough vitamins and minerals from the foods we eat, and though that is exactly how we should get our vitamins, supplementation has become a necessity for optimum health. That said, don’t ever fool yourself into believing vitamin supplementation is a substitute for a healthy diet. Your body needs a diet filled with the healthiest foods available. Vitamins alone have no energy value. They can’t be assimilated without food. Choose whole food vitamins, not synthetic chemical reproductions (there are very few exceptions to this rule in the world of supplementation), and eat plenty of raw, fresh, organic fruits and vegetables. Other than growing our own organic food, this is the best we can do.

Some vitamins and minerals have specific preventive and therapeutic effects when taken in larger amounts. For example, niacin can be used to lower cholesterol and vitamin B6 is very useful in treating premenstrual syndrome. But never take a singular B vitamin for any length of time; take B complex. Studies have proven that taking one B vitamin alone seriously depletes the others. And many doctors don’t know this! But this warning is actually true for all vitamins and minerals in general.

Large doses of vitamins and minerals may slow, or even reverse many diseases previously thought to be an inevitable part of aging such as cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, impaired immunity, nerve degeneration, and other chronic health problems. Many experts consider larger doses of some vitamins to be necessary for optimum health. While OLM firmly believes that people should be fully responsible for their own health and strive to learn everything they can about how to heal and be healthy, we strongly recommend that significantly large doses of vitamins and/or minerals should only be taken under the supervision of a knowledgeable health care practitioner.

A lot of alternative health care practitioners recommend a hair mineral analysis to determine what minerals a person needs. A lab will analyze a sample of your hair and tell you which minerals are in your system, their ratios, and which heavy metal toxins you have accumulated in your body. Using your hair analysis as a guideline, your alternative health care practitioner will tailor a supplement program to get you body in balance and help you eliminate your accumulation of heavy metal toxins, while teaching you how to avoid heavy metal toxicity in the future.

There is some debate as to the reliability of hair analysis as a viable test for minerals, though the alternative health community does agree the test is accurate for heavy metals. All agree it is imperative to use a competent lab.

It is important to detoxify, as toxins can impede your ability to process vitamins and minerals. And detoxifying can “reset” your minerals and vitamins. Many detox programs require a juice fast, while others limit the foods you eat. Whichever detox program you choose, make sure you don’t rob your body of nutrients during the process, whether you are doing a “radical” detox or just a gentle cleanse. It is also imperative that your diet be alkaline, not acidic. You will never come close to optimum health with an acidic diet, no matter how many vitamin and mineral supplements you consume.

Once you get your body balanced properly, it becomes much more efficient at digesting and assimilating vitamins and minerals. Provided your body is not toxified, you will easily pull much of what you need from the foods you eat. You can then supplement your diet with a good whole food multivitamin/mineral for optimum health.

Choosing the right supplements is a whole other story (which we will get into in our next issue). For now we highly recommend Raymond Francis’s The Road Map To Choosing Supplements available for free at his website www.beyondhealth.com. For that matter we recommend anything Raymond Francis has ever written.

In our first issue, we stated that vitamin tablets are usually not absorbed properly, and we recommended capsules. Raymond Francis has educated us on this matter. “A well-designed tablet is superior because the ingredients are tightly packed and are protected from exposure to the ill effects of moisture, light, and oxygen. Vitamins in liquid and powder form do not have this protection and degrade rather quickly after being opened.”

But note that most tablets and most supplements for that matter are not “well-designed”. “It takes a vast amount of knowledge, care and extra expense to create an effective supplement,” Raymond says. “Since the basis of competition in the supplement market is price, there is little incentive for companies to spend the money to create quality.”

For a list of toxins, reasons to detoxify, and how to detoxify, check out How Burdened is Your Body by Ryan Harrison, Organic Lifestyle Magazine issue 3. We also recommend Dr. Shillington’s detox program.

Harvard Study: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/calcium-full-story/index.html

Thorne Research and Beyond Health (Raymond Francis’s company) are two of the highest quality supplement companies we have found. www.thorne.com www.beyondhealth.com

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