This article has been stimulated by the constant question as to the efficacy of the cheaper, synthetic varieties of food supplements which flood our stores today. It also should help those who have mistakenly purchased a synthetic product under the assumption that it was an organic because it was purchased in a Health Food Store. It is an unfortunate fact of life that there are many who demand high potency products and therefore the Health Food Store proprietor must stock them in order to keep his business. This mistaken concept (that high potency is equivalent to high activity) is a result of the chemical houses advertising programs which indicate that ‘Potency equals Quality.’ Research and experiments have determined that this is far from the truth, but the advertising goes on. It is under this assumption that we often hear the hopeless wail, “Oh, I’ve tried every kind of vitamin that there is and it never did me any good.”
The chemist can produce what he considers is a perfect chemical replica of the natural vitamins. But we have the same condition existing as the curator who did not have a supply of sea water to keep his ocean fish in. His chemist assured him that this was no problem as the chemical composition of sea water was well known and he would make him some. When the fish were introduced into the ‘chemical’ sea water they soon died. The chemist, feeling that he had probably erred in his composition, made another batch with careful attention to proportions. The fish still died and several subsequent batches were also failures. Then a curator with some common sense added minute parts of real sea water to the artificial concoction and the fish lived happily ever after.
Even in the face of evidence of this nature, most chemists still will not believe that there is a difference between a synthetically manufactured vitamin and one derived from natural food source. Such stubborn adherence to theory not based on fact is a true stumbling block to proper clinical evaluation of a food concentrate, be it a vitamin complex, a mineral complex or whatever. If one research group uses a substance derived from natural food source and notes the response in many different patients thus eliminating the variables, then publishes its findings in a professional journal, another group may decide to try to duplicate this experiment. The second group obeys every rule of research, identical environment, diet, controls, etc. but fails to question the source of the substance under surveillance because it was tagged with a name such as ‘Vitamin M’ and their source of ‘Vitamin M’ is from their local pharmaceutical supply house. The results of this test may be completely different from the original because of the lack of some unknown substance, as yet unidentified, which is present in an organic complex but not in a chemical complex. I personally know that this has occurred in our day and age and to a great extent contributes to the squabble over the effectiveness of supplementation as a means of therapy.
Products made from chemicals will never compare favorably with the product of nature, which is the living cell of the plant a complex compilation of the life-giving jays of the sun, minerals derived from a fertile soil, vitamins, enzymes, amino acids and many unknown substances which make up life. An excellent example of this is the commercially sold ascorbic acid, also labeled Vitamin C. It is my opinion that ascorbic acid should not be labeled Vitamin C because the original concept of Vitamin C was that it would cure scurvy. Ascorbic acid, synthetically produced, will not alleviate the condition of scurvy, although a product containing ascorbic acid from a natural source with all the associated factors will relieve the condition with ease.
Now we come to the little known differentiation between a synthetic, a crystalline and a natural vitamin. The synthetic is obviously just what it says the end product of a chemist’s compilation from inorganic substances. These are the products which are sold at cut rate prices because their source material is cheap usually coal tar or other petroleum derivatives. A crystalline vitamin is a natural substance subjected to various means of processing in order to get a single substance in concentration. High heat, toxic chemicals and filtration are all a part of this process. The end product is a highly refined, concentrated, crystalline substance without any contamination with the elements it was originally associated with. This product is usually sold under the banner From Natural Sources but the discerning buyer will note that the high potency listed on the label is not found in nature. It is difficult to perceive that such a product could conceivably bring health, after having been heated beyond the point where the activity of a vitamin substance ceases. On the other hand we have a completely natural vitamin which is of necessity low potency, but does contain the synergistic substances naturally associated in an organic combination.
Another good reason for not taking highly purified, single substances is the imbalance which the excess intake of a single vitamin factor may produce…Vita-. min B-1 is an excellent example of this. We know that without adequate amounts of Vitamin B-6 in the system, the excess B-1 may produce a deficiency of B-6 with resultant severe symptoms. Vitamins are associated together in nature and work together in’ our bodies. It is folly to take isolated, high potency substances and expect to receive benefits. Incidentally, Vitamin E is another good example of this. A large, intake of Vitamin E should always be balanced with adequate calcium as this is a synergistic necessity for Vitamin E utilization.
It behooves everyone who is interested in regaining or maintaining his health to distinguish which is more important and which makes more sense a one-sided, unbalanced, enzyme deficient, synergist ‘deficient, synthetic, high potency vitamin, or a natural food complex containing the balances of ingredients as found in nature. The answer is, or should be, quite obvious.