Paavo Airola - Let's Live - July 1977Index

Are Vitamins And Food Supplements REALLY Necessary?

Must You Use Them? What Kinds? How Much? Natural Or Synthetic?

Their Preventive, Protective, And Therapeutic Functions

IDEALLY, all vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients should be obtained from foods, without the addition of concentrated vitamins in pill or tablet form. This was possible 100 or even 50 years ago, when all foods were grown on fertile soils, were unrefined and unprocessed, and contained all the nutrients nature intended them to contain. But today, when soils are depleted, when foods are loaded with residues of hundreds of toxic insecticides and other chemicals, and when the nutritional value of virtually all foods is drastically lowered by vitamin-, protein- and enzyme-destroying food-producing and food-processing practices (such as the tendency to harvest the produce before it is ripened, for example), the addition of vitamins and food supplements to the diet is of vital importance. Nutritionally inferior and poisoned foods of today cause many nutritional deficiencies, derangement in body chemistry and lowered resistance to disease.

The prime purpose of food supplementation is to fill in the nutritional gaps produced by faulty eating habits and by nutritionally inferior foods.

But, vitamins and food supplements can also be used therapeutically and, as such, can be of tremendous help in fighting disease and speeding recovery.

Thus, vitamins can be used in four distinctly different ways:

  1. Prophylactically, for preventive purposes. Since it is almost impossible in today's denatured and poisoned world to obtain high quality, poison-free foods, vitamins and food supplements will help to assure that your diet is adequate in all needed nutrients and, thus, vitamin and mineral deficiency diseases can be prevented.

  2. For correcting deficiencies. When a specific vitamin or mineral deficiency is indicated, the prescribed vitamins or minerals can correct the deficiency and cure the condition caused by the nutritional deficiencies.

  3. For protection against toxic environment. The damage to your body by certain common poisons in air, water, food and environment can be minimized and even prevented by the regular use of certain vitamins, minerals, and other food substances, as I will show later in this article.

  4. Therapeutically, as drugs or biological medicines. Many avant-garde practitioners around the world are now using vitamins in massive doses, doses that are far above the actual nutritional needs, in the treatment of all kinds of conditions of ill health. It has been found that in large doses many vitamins have a miraculous healing, stimulating and/or protective effect on a variety of body functions - an effect that is totally different from the usual vitamin activity as nutritional and metabolic catalysts.
Here are a few examples:

Vitamin C. You need 100 mg. to 200 mg. of vitamin C a day for the maintenance of normal, healthy functions of your body. But, when you take the same vitamin in huge doses, let's say 5,000 to 10,000 mg. a day, it will assume totally different functions and can perform such miracles as:

Vitamin E. For normal, healthy functions of all your organs and glands you need, perhaps, 100 IU of vitamin E a day (the official estimation is only 45 IU). But, when you take large doses of vitamin E, such as 600 IU to 1,600 IU or even more, it assumes a drug-like role and can perform the following activities:

Vitamin A. The official recommended daily allowance is set at 4,000 U.S.P. Units. But when taken in such large doses as 100,000 U.S.P. Units per day, Vitamin A has been known to:

Niacin. The official recommended daily allowance is set at 10 mg., but many doctors around the world have been using large doses of niacin (up to 25,000 mg.) to treat schizophrenia, actually achieving dramatic cures with this so-called mega-vitamin therapy.

These few examples show that vitamins, in addition to their common use as food supplements to prevent or correct deficiencies, can also be used successfully in large doses therapeutically, instead of many commonly used drugs. While drugs are always toxic and have many undesirable side effects, vitamins are, as a rule, completely non-toxic and safe.

Preventive Use of Supplements

Where no specific disease is present, but a person needs a strengthening, health-building diet to achieve optimum health, more vitality and greater resistance to disease, I recommend the optimum nutrition, as outlined in my books and articles, supplemented with the following food supplements and vitamins. This supplementation is also advised for all those who are recuperating from disease and wish to restore health and vitality as fast as possible.
  1. Vitamin C - preferably in natural form from rose hip concentrate, or other natural sources: 1,500 to 3,000 mg. a day; even more in acute conditions of ill health, such as colds. Vitamin C is completely non-toxic even in large doses.

  2. Vitamin A - natural, from fish liver oil, or lemon grass: 25,000 U.S.P. units a day. Under doctor's supervision it can be taken in doses up to 100,000 units a day for shorter periods.

  3. Vitamin E - natural d-alpha tocopherol from vegetable oil: 600 IU a day. If you have not used vitamin E before, start with 100 IU and increase by 100 IU each week. If suffering from high blood pressure or rheumatic heart disease, consult your doctor on the proper dosage for your particular condition.

  4. Vitamin B-complex, with B12 - natural, from yeast concentrate, 1 to 3 tablets a day. (The usual strength of natural B-complex does not exceed 10 mg. for B1, B2,and B6 per tablet.)

  5. Brewer's yeast - or primary grown food yeast: 1 to 3 tbsp. a day. ,

  6. Kelp: 1 tsp. of granules a day, or 3 tablets.

  7. Fish liver oil, unfortified, for vitamin D and A; 1 tsp. a day.

  8. Lecithin: 1 to 2 tsp. of granules a day.

  9. Mineral supplement - bone meal or calcium lactate: 1 tsp. of powder or 3 tablets a day.

Vitamins And Our Toxic Environment

There is no longer any doubt in anybody's mind that poisons in our environment cause all kinds of serious disorders, disease and death - all the way from the vague, subclinical conditions such as headaches, irritability, chronic mental and physical fatigue and digestive disorders, to our most dreaded killers, heart disease and cancer.

There is much talk today, on every level, about environmental pollution. Even the President of the United States said that "We must clean our environment - or perish!" But if you think that those responsible for our health will take swift action to clean our air, water, and food supplies from disease-producing and killing poisons, you are in for a big surprise. Nothing of decisive value will be done for a long time. You should be prepared to see things get much worse before they get better. Not until real mass tragedies begin to occur, when millions of people will be dropping dead, will any real, effective measures be taken. Let's face it, the real powers that run our country are the financial and industrial big boys from the chemical-drug-medical-food processing-auto-oil and other vested interests. They will see to it that nothing is done that can hurt their profits. That all these poisons in air, soil, water and food are making Americans the sickest people in the world, does not bother them. You see, the whole economic structure of the American chemical-drug-medical and hospital industry is based on the principle: "The more sickness - the more profit!" The government agencies, which are supposed to protect us from the toxic dangers in our food, drug, and other environmental sources are controlled to a large degree by these interests.

Do It Yourself

Therefore, if you want to be protected against ever-increasing amounts of deadly poisons in your environment in the air you breathe, in the water you drink, and in the food you eat - you must do it yourself; no one else will.

What can you do?

I have made a thorough study and research of this question, with the result that I have found many ways and means that you can employ for your protection. The damage to your body by certain common poisons in air, water and food can be partially minimized and even prevented by the regular use of certain vitamins, minerals and other food substances. Certain minerals and vitamins neutralize and/or counteract the effects of toxins. Certain foods can help the development and growth of beneficial bacteria in your intestines, which can help to detoxify and neutralize certain toxic residues in food. Certain vitamins and food substances can increase your body's tolerance and resistance to toxins. Some other vitamins can help your body to excrete ingested poisons from the system. The complex detailed story of what you can do to protect yourself against specific environmental poisons can be found in my book, How To Get Well, but here is a list of specific foods and food supplements which can minimize the damage to your body from common poisons in air, water, and food.

Tips On Taking Vitamin Supplements

  1. As a general rule, all vitamins and food supplements should be taken with meals, or immediately after meals. They are better utilized with foods.

  2. Divide all the suggested daily amounts equally between three meals, or at least between two meals.

  3. Take all vitamins and food supplements continuously, with the exception of high potency B-complex vitamins, large doses of synthetic isolated B-vitamins, and large doses of vitamins A and D. These should be taken for 4 to 6 weeks, then after a one-month interval, taken for another 4-6 weeks, and so on. The reason for this is that the above mentioned vitamins are cumulative and may cause vitamin imbalances in the system if taken in large doses over a prolonged period of time. Also, the continuous ingestion of certain isolated B vitamins in large doses may cause deficiencies of other B-vitamins, and/or interfere with the body's own synthesis of these vitamins in the intestines. Naturally, brewer's yeast (B-complex) and plain fish liver oils (A&D) can be taken continuously.

  4. Special medicinal supplements, such as digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid, special vitamins and minerals in massive doses should be taken only on recommendation of a doctor or nutritionist who can determine your actual need and dosage. These should be taken only during the treatment, or for about one to three months, then discontinued. After a one to three month interval, treatment can be repeated, if needed. Between treatment periods, vitamin and mineral-rich natural food supplements should be used, such as brewer's yeast, bone meal, lecithin, fish liver oils and rose hips. Vitamin C can be used continuously in reduced dosage. When vitamin E is used for a heart condition, it also should be used continuously.

  5. Although vitamin E in the form of mixed tocopherols is perfectly safe to take by a healthy person for preventive purposes, those who take vitamin E for therapeutic purposes or for treatment of specific conditions, should take only the pure d-alpha tocopherol capsules (possibly supplemented by mixed tocopherols.) Only the alpha-tocopherol fraction of vitamin E complex is known presently to be effective in treatment of disease.

  6. As a rule, all vitamins and food supplements should be taken together. Being synergistic in their action, they work best that way, and complement each other. There is, however, a notable exception to this rule. Vitamin E and iron supplements are antagonists. Iron tablets have an adverse effect on the utilization of vitamin E. Therefore, when iron tablets are taken, as for example in anemia, they should be taken 8 to 12 hours after or before taking vitamin E. For example take the total daily dose of vitamin E for breakfast, and iron tablets at dinnertime. Natural iron-rich foods, however, have no adverse effect on vitamin E utilization.

    Although in my book, How To Get Well, I list specific vitamins for the biological treatment of most ailments, and, in most cases, list the commonly used therapeutic doses, there is no such thing as a common or average person or patient. As Dr. Roger J. Williams stressed so expertly, "Individual human beings have great diversity in human nutritional needs." There is also a great difference in every person's response to vitamins and other therapeutic substances, depending on his health condition, nutritional stature, the quality of the foods he eats, his ability to assimilate nutrients, the mineral content of the water he drinks, the toxicity degree of his environment and his emotional health. Due to many physical and mental disorders, Vitamins may not be utilized properly. Poor teeth, diarrhea, the lack. of digestive juices, intestinal parasites, infections, colitis, gall bladder or liver disorders, mental stresses - these are just a few of the conditions which interfere. with Vitamin utilization. Then there are countless vitamin antagonists which destroy or interfere with ingested vitamins, such as smoking (vitamin C), aspirin and other drugs (vitamin C), alcohol (Vitamin B), rancid foods (vitamins E and A), chlorinated water (vitamin E), laxatives (vitamins C and B), etc., etc.

    Therefore, since every individual's needs are different, your doctor, upon a careful examination and nutritional and metabolic evaluation of your condition, must determine the exact dosage and the duration of the vitamin therapy for you.

  7. When possible, all vitamins should be natural, not synthetic. See the following section for the difference between the two, and how you can know which is which.

Natural vs. Synthetic Vitamins

Most drugstore-quality vitamins are made from synthetic chemicals - they are not derivatives of natural food substances. Although this is also true of some brands sold in health food stores, most vitamins sold in health food stores are concentrations of nutrients from such natural sources as rose hips, green peppers, and acerola berries (vitamin C); brewer's yeast, liver, or rice polishings (vitamin B); fish liver oil or lemon grass (vitamins A and D); vegetable oils (vitamin E); kelp (iodine); bone meal, eggs shells, and milk (minerals); etc.

There is a great deal of controversy regarding the difference and the usefulness of synthetic vs. natural vitamins. Natural health authorities usually claim that synthetic vitamins are useless, ineffective, and extremely harmful. Most orthodox doctors and nutritionists claim that synthetic vitamins have a molecular chemical structure identical to the so-called natural vitamins, and that they are just as effective. Who is right?

In Sweden, two groups of silver foxes were fed identical diets, but one group received a food supplement in the form of all the known synthetic B-vitamins; the control group received vitamins in the form of brewer's yeast and liver. The synthetically fed animals failed to grow, had bad fur and acquired many diseases. Animals fed the natural vitamins grew normally, developed beautiful fur and enjoyed good health. Approximately similar results were demonstrated in other animal studies in various countries.

Trust Nature

"On the whole, we can trust nature further than the chemist and his synthetic vitamins," explained Dr. A.J. Carlson, of the University of Chicago.

We must keep in mind that in nature, vitamins are never isolated. They are always present in the form of vitamin complexes. There are 24 known factors in vitamin C-complex. There are 22 known B-vitamin factors. vitamin E, as we know it, is composed of at least 9 natural tocopherols. And so on.

When you take natural vitamins, as for instance in the form of rose hips, brewer's yeast, or vegetable oil, you are getting all the vitamins and vitamin-like factors that occur naturally in these foods - that is, all those that are already discovered as well as those that are not discovered as yet. Also, our knowledge of vitamins is not complete. New vitamins are discovered frequently. For example, it has been clinically demonstrated that foods which are naturally rich in B-vitamins, such as brewer's yeast and liver, contain some potent, but as yet unidentified or isolated, B-vitamin factors. When you take your vitamins in the form of vitamin-rich supplements or in the form of "complexes", you are getting the benefit of all the known as well as the unknown vitamins.

Does this mean that synthetic vitamins are useless? Not necessarily. The rightful place of synthetic vitamins is in their therapeutic use, where extremely large doses of easily-soluble and fast-acting vitamins are necessary. For example, Dr. W.I. McCormick, the world-famous authority on the therapeutic uses of vitamin C, has successfully used huge doses of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) in acute cases of poisoning or infection, preferably intravenously. His treatments have brought spectacular results and often saved lives. You cannot very well inject rose hips intravenously and get such results. Dr. Linus Pauling has used synthetic ascorbic acid to successfully prevent or cure the common cold. In huge doses, synthetic vitamins perform as fast-acting drugs. Their action is often more rapid than the action of natural vitamins, especially since they can be injected intravenously. This fact can be invaluable in acute conditions of poisoning or ill health.

Alpha For Active

Vitamin E is another good example. Proponents of natural vitamins advise taking vitamin E-rich vegetable oils, particularly wheat germ oil instead of isolated vitamin E capsules. Or, if capsules are used, they advise taking vitamin E in the form of mixed tocopherols, as it occurs in nature. But, Drs. Evan and Wilfrid Shute, the world's foremost authorities on therapeutic uses of vitamin E, used only an isolated alpha-tocopherol in their successful practice and research work. They contend that alpha-tocopherol is the only active part of the vitamin E complex and that the other tocopherols are not necessary in therapeutic use.

The intelligent solution to the controversy, synthetic vs. natural vitamins, seems to be as follows:

The isolated and synthetic vitamins and minerals in large doses have their rightful and indispensable place in the short term treatment of acute conditions or severe deficiency diseases, or where only the isolated fractions of a vitamin complex are needed for specific therapeutic purposes. But those who do not suffer from any specific disease or deficiency, but are interested in food supplements and vitamins mainly, for preventive purposes - that is, to protect their health and to prevent disease and premature aging - should use natural vitamins in the form of food supplements, such as brewer's yeast, rose hips concentrate, kelp, bone meal, fish liver oil, vegetable oils, etc. In these supplements, all the vitamins and other nutritional substances are present in their natural, balanced combinations, which is essential for better assimilation, synergistic action, and maximum biological effect.

To Avoid Confusion

For those who are confused as to which vitamins are synthetic and which are natural (as even most health food stores carry and sell both), we advise reading the labels. As a rule, if the formula on the bottle does not say that vitamin is natural or is derived from natural sources it is synthetic. Manufacturers of natural products are always eager to advertise their natural sources. Occasionally fancy chemical names are used which the consumer doesn't understand, and, thus, cannot make an intelligent choice. Also, some manufacturers employ clever wording, or even by colorful pictures of fruit or berries, to make you believe that theirs is a 100% natural product, when it is actually not. For example, if the label reads "Vitamin C Rose hips," it does not necessarily mean that the product is made from rose hips. It may only mean that ascorbic acid has an added rose hip concentrate with it, perhaps 95% ascorbic acid and 5% rose hips. If B-complex formula contains more than 10 mg. of each major B per tablet, it is not 100% natural. And, sometimes, even potencies less than that are synthetic. You have to be an expert label reader!

To help you orient yourself as you look through long shelves of many vitamin bottles, here is a helpful chart of the most commonly used vitamins:

Vitamin C Rose hips, acerola, citrus fruits, green peppers Natural
Vitamin CAscorbic acid, or if source not givenSynthetic
Vitamin B-complexBrewer's yeastNatural
Vitamin B-complexIf source not givenSynthetic
Vitamin B1Yeast or rice branNatural
Vitamin B1Thiamine Hydrochloride or Thiamine ChlorideSynthetic
Vitamin B1Thiamine MononitrateSynthetic
Vitamin B2Yeast or rice branNatural
Vitamin B2RiboflavinSynthetic
Vitamin B6Yeast or rice branNatural
Vitamin B6Pyridoxine HydrochlorideSynthetic
Niacin (B3)Yeast or rice branNatural
Niacin or NiacinamideIf source not givenSynthetic
Vitamin B12Yeast, liver, or fermentation concentrateNaturalSynthetic
Vitamin B12Cobalamin or CyanocobalaminNatural fermentation product
PABAIf source not givenSynthetic
Folic AcidYeastNatural
Folic AcidPteroylglutamic acid, or if source not givenSynthetic
Pantothenic AcidYeastNatural
Pantothenic AcidCalcium PantothenateSynthetic
InositolSoy beans, corn, or yeastNatural
CholineSoy beans or yeastNatural
CholineCholin BitartrateSynthetic
Vitamin AFish oils or lemon grassNatural
Vitamin AAcetate or PalmitateSynthetic
Vitamin D or D3Fish oilsNatural
Vitamin D or D2Irradiated Ergosterol or CalciferolSynthetic
Vitamin EVegetable oils, wheat germ, mixed tocopherolsNatural
Vitamin Ed-alpha tocopherol or tocopheryl acetateNatural
Vitamin EAlpha tocopherol acetate or dl-alpha tocopherol (or tocopheryl) acetateSynthetic
Vitamin ESuccinateCan be natural or synthetic
Vitamin KAlfalfaNatural
Vitamin KMenadioneSynthetic
Vitamin P or BioflavonoidsCitrus Bioflavonoids, rutin, hesperidin, citrinNatural


As the title of this article suggests, its purpose is not only to show how to use vitamins and supplements, but also why to use them. If this seems superfluous, may I inform you that this still seems to be among the controversial issues in nutrition. There are many health writers and nutrition experts who are still clinging to the outdated and antiquated belief, popular in the early decades of this century, that the diet of healthy people does not need to be supplemented with extra vitamins and minerals - that we will get all the vitamins, minerals, and other nutritive substances that our bodies require from the foods we eat.

In fact, perhaps more than half of all the books on a typical health food store shelf today - those by the proponents of natural hygiene, macrobiotics, mucusless diets, fruitarianism, Eastern oriented vegetarianism, to name a few expound the view that it is "unnatural" to take tablets and pills and that if we eat proper high-quality foods, we don't need them. Although, in principle, they are, of course, right, they forget the fact that what was true 50 years ago is not relevant today.

It is virtually impossible to obtain high-quality foods that are grown without agricultural chemicals on fertile soils, foods that are whole, unprocessed, unadulterated, and poison-free. Even so-called organically grown produce is grown in a polluted environment and smog, is watered by polluted waters, and transported long distances, which lowers its nutritional value. Therefore, vitamin supplementation is a must not only for the average American who subsists on a diet of devitalized, over-processed, and nutritionless supermarket foods, but even for those of us who make heroic efforts to eat so-called natural foods. If you add to this the fact that none of us can escape toxins in polluted air, water, and environment, and that many vitamins have a neutralizing and protective effect against these poisons, as shown in this article, the conclusion will be obvious: the dietary vitamin supplementation is a must in today's poisoned and denatured world.