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Newsletter July 23/01 - Susan Van Dueck

Natural versus Synthetic Supplements

Here is an article that came from Nutri-West, one of our suppliers. We thought this might be of interest to you as it discusses the differences between natural and synthetic supplements. You may want to see our own article on nutraceuticals as well.

  1. Semantic Confusion: Natural vs Synthetic

  2. Everything We Eat and Drink is a Chemical

  3. The Unreliability of "Natural Source" Vitamins

  4. All Manufacturers Buy From the Same Source

  5. Labeling

  6. Natural And Synthetic!

  7. Performance is Key

  8. Susan's Own Commentary

  9. P.I. Health Services Offers Supplemental Level Nutraceuticals

Semantic Confusion: Natural vs Synthetic

Much of the controversy over "natural” vs. "synthetic" stems from semantic confusion. "Natural" means "existing in or produced by nature." "Synthetic" means "manufactured or man-made." In a certain sense. no tablets are natural. They do not, for example, grow on trees. Supplements are man-made. 

To further complicate matters, the human body does a lot of synthesizing itself. It converts the amino acid, tryptophan, into the B-vitamin, niacinamide, for example. All animals and all plants take certain raw materials and convert or synthesize them into other essential substances. 

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Synthesis can itself be an entirely natural process. 

Man cannot manufacture vitamin C (ascorbic acid) in his liver the way that most other animals can. The vitamin C that is produced commercially is made form glucose outside the body in exactly the same way that animals make it from glucose inside the body. Is the end result natural or synthetic? Clearly it is both. The resulting ascorbic acid molecule manufactured commercially is identical to the one animals produce naturally. All and any scientific research uses ascorbic acid.

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Everything We Eat and Drink is a Chemical

Certain words are emotionally charged. The word "chemical," for example, conveys to some people images of pollutants, contaminants and carcinogens. Yet everything we eat or drink including water -- is a chemical. Natural chemicals are those which our bodies need. Artificial chemicals are those which are foreign to our bodies. Synthetic chemicals are those produced in a laboratory -- and may be either natural or artificial.

The Unreliability of "Natural Source" Vitamins

Natural sources of vitamins are both unreliable and of low yield for manufacturing supplements. Brewer's yeast is the richest natural source of B-vitamins, yet a whole tablespoonful contains, on average, only about 1.25 mg of thiamine (B-1), .34 mg of riboflavin (B-2), and 3 mg of niacin (B-3). This content fluctuates widely from batch to batch, making it difficult to maintain consistent label claims. Also, many people have sensitivities to yeast and might do better not to consume products from this source. 

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In order to comply with the strict rules regarding the potency of vitamin products, manufacturers use crystalline vitamins. A crystalline vitamin is one which may be isolated in its pure form. Even the so-called "low-potency" formulations use crystalline vitamins to meet government standards.

All Manufacturers Buy From the Same Source

All manufacturers of vitamin and mineral formulations -- even those who claim to have all "natural" ingredients buy their raw materials from the same suppliers. There are very few original sources of ingredients. There are, for example, only two producers of vitamin C in all North America.

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Labeling can be deceiving. "Rose Hips" vitamin and tablets, for example, often reveal a content of less than 5% rose hips powder--the balance being pure ascorbic acid. Who is kidding whom? Rose hips contain only a small percentage of ascorbic acid, and from 45 to 90% of that may be lost during the drying process. To provide, 1,000 mg of vitamin C entirely from rose hips, the tablet would have to be the size of a baseball and would cost hundreds of dollars (or perhaps thousands) per bottle. Entirely natural sources are both too expensive and too unreliable for the high potency which the body needs.  

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Acerola cherries are the richest known natural source of vitamin C, yet they contain only about 1.6% of vitamin C by weight. Those manufacturers who claim to use only vitamin C from acerola are not telling the truth. They use the same manufactured vitamin C that everyone else does-with only a dash of acerola powder added. 

As long as we are talking about vitamin C and B-Complex vitamins, it does not matter where the vitamin comes from; the molecule is identical and is handled by the body in the same way. In other words, vitamin C from rose hips and vitamin C from cornstarch are identical in their pure form.

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There is a difference, however, in the structures of fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, and E. The various forms are physically different when viewed under a microscope and they are handled differently by the body. All reported cases of toxicity from vitamins A and D have been from the man-made, water-dispersible forms and not from the extracted kinds from fish liver oil. Synthetic vitamin E has not been proven toxic; however, it does not seem to be utilized as efficiently as the natural form. It thus takes more to get the same result. ("d-alphatocopherol” or E-succinate) is the natural form of vitamin E; "dl-alphatocopherol" is the synthetic. 

Natural And Synthetic!

Again, many confuse "synthetic" with "artificial." "Artificial" means "not found in nature." A substance can be both natural and synthetic if the final, man-made product is identical to its counterpart found in nature-as in the case of ascorbic acid and the B-vitamins. On the other hand, synthetic products can be artificial, as in the case of man-made vitamins A, D and E.

The most artificial ingredients of all; of course, are the man-made colours, flavours and preservatives -- none of which occur anywhere except in laboratories.

Performance is Key

What is important is not the hysterical claim of "all natural," but how the substance performs in the body. Iron is  a case in point. The pharmaceutical type of vitamin/mineral products usually contain iron in the form of ferrous sulfate, which is poorly assimilated and which can cause constipation. Ferrous fumarate, iron peptonate and ferrous gluconate, on the other hand, are readily assimilated and do not cause constipation.

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The most effective formulations are those which provide as many nutrients as possible, in a reasonable balance. To improve results, the better combinations include extra synergistic factors. In a multi-vitamin/mineral formulation these extras could include certain herbs, amino acids, glandular concentrates, lipotropic factors, bioflavonoids, betaine HCL, and/or RNA depending on the nature and purpose of the formula. 

The ultimate test of a supplement is, of course, does it get results? Does it do what it was meant to do?

The following commentary is from Susan Van Dueck at P.I. Health Services.

Drugs Don't Cure

Drugs and supplements are relatively new, whereas herbs have been used as medicines for 1000's of years. Medicines are not necessarily drugs or supplements. Semantics again. Drugs do not cure so to speak, but rather mask the symptoms. 

How many times do you see someone undergo chemotherapy for say breast cancer only to see in a year or two the cancer manifest itself in the lungs or brain. The doctors will say you are clear, but why then does it come back? The patient actually was only clear in the area originally hit by the cancer. What has happened is that it has spread thru the lymph system and is looking for another home. It usually finds a home in a more crucial area such as lung and brain. If it doesn't come back, it probably hadn't gotten into the lymph system to start with.

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So when someone is said to be cured by drug therapy it is highly unlikely... drugs only postpone the inevitable... even antibiotics. It doesn't mean just because you take antibiotics that you actually have beaten the infection. It can still be lying dormant in your system waiting to mutate into something else... take Staph for example. Staph is the typical cause of tumours, carbuncles, boils, impetigo, and cancer...scary, but true.

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I had lots of antibiotics over the years and they never cured my Staph infection. It wasn't until it showed up in Dr. Van Dueck's testing that I was finally able to get rid of it. I did that by supporting my immune system (particularly the Thymus) to fight the infection and using a nutraceutical to eat up the waste so I didn't reinfect myself. (The immune system is the triad of spleen, liver, and thymus.)

Health Store Supplements Waste Your Money

Supplements bought in the health food store really are a waste of money. They are not really potent enough to help us conditionally and most are full of fillers, and the cheapest materials are used in them. However, nutraceutical companies have to obtain repeatable results with doctors so they must keep their standards to the highest. They are also under the scrutiny by government (FDA and HPB) agencies and are assayed to insure consistency and quality. They are formulated in such a way as to act as a medicine not a supplement. They can cure disease as they help the body overcome disease processes, not cover up symptoms. - Susan van Dueck

Although P.I. Health Services specializes in finding the right formulation for your condition, we are pleased to offer nutraceuticals at the supplemental level (vitamins and minerals) for your needs as well.

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