The human race walks a common road but once in awhile there is a revelation so profound that it changes the journey and all observations. It is then not possible to return unaffected and compliant with old beliefs, but begin to embrace a vision of wholeness and balance in all of Nature’s cycles. It is a return to the bounty of what Nature has provided immemorially for total health; thereby, redressing our shopping habits, dinner tables and dietary supplements.
This exercise is guaranteed to make you never look at a vegetable or fruit in the same way again. Nature’s plant foods are intrinsic to our body’s structure and function. As importantly, when we choose our supplements, it is Nature’s whole plants that best meet the needs of the internal pharmacist inside us.
A couple years ago I was walking in similar shoes as most people believing several commonalities. Clearly, there is a direct link between the food we eat and the structure and function of our cells. Clearly, it is wise to eat several servings of fruits and vegetables daily highly recommended by many organizations, but often not substantially followed. Commonly, we understand that modern agricultural and food manufacturing processes have depleted and denutriented our natural plants of many of the essential elements Subsequently, we are informed to do the next best thing …SUPPLEMENT…SUPPLEMENT… SUPPLEMENT
Now there are whole volumes that deal with vitamins, their role in health, best sources and more. But without a lot of training, most of us go to a store and decide to buy but based on what criteria. And on store shelves we are accosted by every kind of fancy labeling, claims, pills, capsules, powders, potions …and for some of us, the cheaper the better buy, right? And once in awhile there appears a new buzzword of something vital for your body, accredited by a doctor or two, and so we have to purchase that, too. Often, to make sure we were getting a full spectrum of essential nutrients, we end up swallowing a handful of pills. Sound familiar? The latest advertising images of various vitamins are shown as brightly colored blocks with human bodies jostling each other to try and rank importance. What insulting balderdash, in my opinion.
But how much do we truly understand what constitutes a vitamin ? Here’s an interesting exercise… Can you draw the elements of a vitamin (in the same way that you can draw the descriptive details of a cat, a dog, an apple or any other basic concrete object) I’ve asked this question many times and am not surprised by the responses. In truth, a couple years ago, I would have responded in like fashion with a simple sketch of a pill or capsule form speckled with dots to show different vitamins. A vitamin is not a dot, or speckle, a pill, a habit or a label. A vitamin cannot be manufactured by the body and must be obtained from our diet (or supplements). A vitamin is a biochemical catalyst for growth, maintenance and reproduction of all cells in the body. It is an integral part of hormones, genes, amino acids, minerals, enzymes and immune components.
We need vitamins and minerals to help fill in the gaps in our modern food supply to benefit from total nutrition and who doesn’t want that. Your choice of dietary supplement is one of the most important choices you can make for long term health for you and your family. The question is which kind of supplement? We better get the right source and validation. Undoubtedly, the most important drawing you’ll ever do is to see the real components of a vitamin. So take a few minutes now and draw what you understand to be a vitamin. Don’t worry about different kinds (B, C, D, A, etc.) because they all have three common features.
Don’t read ahead until you have actually drawn something because you’ll be amazed at the picture of what constitutes a vitamin. It is the revelation that transfigured my perception of what Nature’s provision is all about.
So what are the features of a vitamin?
A vitamin is an organic compound composed of three elements: carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.
Different vitamins have different combinations of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, some more a complex than others. A drawing of a vitamin is a series of Carbon atoms linked with Hydrogen atoms linked with Oxygen atoms…all interconnected. For example, Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) shows a fixed matrix with 2 Carbon molecules, 7 Hydrogen molecules, and 6 Oxygen molecules
You can check out the actual configurations for different vitamins by google searching ‘vitamin structures.’ Some structures are impressively complex which further asks how best to replicate them or keep them as natural forms found in plants already.
Furthermore, an antioxidant is also a series of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen molecules…
A phytonutrient, or natural phytochemical, found in plants is a set of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen molecules…
An amino protein is a combination of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen with a Nitrogen element…
A fatty acid is a long chain combination of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.
Our natural whole plants are also composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen molecules with the extra elements of minerals drawn from the soil. Make sure your mineral supplements also come from plants, not ground up rock or metals that can actually accumulate in the body’s tissues.
A natural question is to find out how many different configurations are found in plant foods. The answer is a second revelation. Fruits and vegetables contain hundreds of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, anti-oxidants, phytochemicals, enzymes, other co -factors and fiber. For example, if an apple is “labeled” correctly there would be over 600 nutritional elements that scientists can identify. Just imagine, if Mother Nature in the spirit of fair advantage, could also label the nutrients found in fruits and vegetables, their lists would be very long and very impressive! A bottle of manufactured supplement pills with 20 or 30 elements could never compare with Mother Nature’s nutritional powerhouses.
This is such a simple revelation in a market of information overload. Dietary supplementation is huge garnering about 17 billion dollars a year. There are least 29,000 supplement products made by at least 500 manufacturers, many with ingredients from the same supplier (some of which are pharmaceutical subsidiaries selling chemically derived, isolated vitamins and minerals). Strangely enough, some forms of chronic diseases have not changed and even increased. In my opinion, in the same way that refined foods are robbed of essential nutrients, so I believe “refined” or processed pill formulations also cause imbalances, especially if taken at high levels over a long time.
This personal revelation finally led to a crossroads…how to best supplement…increase our portions of whole foods, supplement with whole food extracts, or take manufactured pills with “fractions” of natural plants.
In making the decision, a few principles stand strong. First, the body functions properly with proper “fuel” (food) a synergy of at least 100 nutrients. Second, the body is designed to draw nutrients from a natural food supply all working synergistically. Third, be aware that our genetic paleolithic blueprint hasn’t changed and that for thousands of years “ethnobotany” was the basis for healing. Fourth, was the choice to focus preventatively on natural whole foods to treat any prevailing unhealthy condition, rather than on the disease itself hoping for a chemical cure.
I decided to put my faith and trust in omniscient Nature rather than sifting and sorting through a huge number of products made in laboratories on conveyor belts. I decided to align with the natural environment believing that the “whole food best treats the whole body”. I chose a whole food supplement that comes from the ocean because of its natural mineral formulation as well as many other vital ingredients, including the essential fatty acids. I can now drink all my essential nutrients as a delicious nectar. Just try and reproduce a bottle of sea water in a laboratory.