Grounded in history—but firmly oriented toward the future—Vitamania
reveals the surprising story of how our embrace of vitamins led to
today’s Wild West of dietary supplements and investigates the
complicated psychological relationship we’ve developed with these
thirteen mysterious chemicals. In so doing, Vitamania both demolishes many of our society’s most cherished myths about nutrition and challenges us to reevaluate our own beliefs.
Impressively researched, counterintuitive, and engaging, Vitamania won’t just change the way you think about vitamins. It will change the way you think about food.
Vitamania tells how and why vitamins have become so
important to so many Americans. Rima Apple examines the claims and
counterclaims of scientists, manufacturers, retailers, politicians, and
consumers from the discovery of vitamins in the early twentieth
century to the present. She reveals the complicated
interests--scientific, professional, financial--that have propelled the
vitamin industry and its would-be regulators. From early
advertisements linking motherhood and vitamin D, to Linus Pauling's
claims for vitamin C, to recent congressional debates about restricting
vitamin products, Apple's insightful history shows the ambivalence of
Americans toward the authority of science. She also documents how
consumers have insisted on their right to make their own decisions
about their health and their vitamins.
Vitamania makes fascinating reading for anyone who takes--or refuses to take--vitamins.
With wit, charm, accessibility, and impeccable scholarship (a powerful
and unusual quartet), Harvey Levenstein chronicles the long history of
Americans’ food fears, tracing their origins, exposing and debunking the
self-serving hucksters who promoted them, and, finally, offering his
own ‘cure’: healthy skepticism. It’s a riveting record of claims and
counter-claims, greed and venality, that will keep you reading and,
finally, reassessing your own diet.
At the heart of today's optimistic farm-to-table food culture is a dark
secret: the local food movement has failed to change how we eat. It has
also offered a false promise for the future of food. Our concern over
factory farms and chemically grown crops might have sparked a social
movement, but chef Dan Barber reveals that even the most enlightened
eating of today is ultimately detrimental to the environment and to
individual health. And it doesn't involve truly delicious food. Based on
ten years of surveying farming communities around the world, Barber's
The Third Plate offers a radical new way of thinking about food that
will heal the land and taste good, too.
A vivid and profound work that takes readers into the kitchens and
fields revolutionizing the way we eat, The Third Plate redefines
nutrition, agriculture, and taste for the twenty-first century. The
Third Plate charts a bright path forward for eaters and chefs alike,
daring everyone to imagine a future for our national cuisine that is as
sustainable as it is delicious.
human body is as vast consortium of sophisticated reactions, each
moderated by an internal traffic cop usually called a 'coenzyme'.
Thousands of coenzymes have been discovered in biochemistry; they
prevent your metabolism from 'running' too slow or too fast. But man,
like every species, has mutated; no longer is he able to manufacture
every necessary coenzyme. Those he cannot make, he must eat . . . and so
we have vitamins. Most coenzymes are abundantly available in fresh,
raw, unprocessed foods and needed only in trace amounts; an example
would be B-12, a teaspoon of which is a lifetime supply. Vitamins are
basically an all or nothing nutrient; you either eat them or you don't.
If you do have an exceptionally poor diet, however, you may not ingest
any of a particular coenzyme and your weight training program remains at
a standstill and you may even suffer from a deficiency disease which is
more than likely to be dramatically revolting.
true that few of you have clinical vitamin deficiencies; it's also true
that most people eat a very poor diet. The flood of nutrition provided
by frankfurters, french fries, processed cereals and bread, canned fruit
and vegetables is lowering your efficiency and interfering with your
ability to function normally. Vitamin tablets are the safest products
you can add to your diet. Taken for specific reasons and in specific
quantities, vitamins can add much to your life.
take too many vitamins? The answer is a qualified NO. You can't take
too many natural vitamins, which are food, not medicines. They are what
should be on your plate, but owing to modern conditions they are
missing. You must therefore supplement your diet. All of the top
bodybuilders and weightlifters have been doing it for years. They
realize the importance of proper nutrition for strength and health.
There is so much scientific proof of improvement through the use of
vitamins that it would fill this whole book and then some. New
information is coming out of laboratories almost daily and since there
are so many scientific reports I have selected only those which I felt
would be of primary interest to the weight trainer. If you desire
further information concerning vitamins I urge you to purchase one or
more of the many publications listed in the reference section of this
book [which will be listed after the last chapter].
classify vitamins on the basis of their solubility. Vitamins A, D, E and
K in their natural forms are soluble in fats whereas vitamins of the B
complex and C are soluble in water.
vitamin occurs naturally only in the animal kingdom but the largest
source of all Vitamin A is the carotenes which are synthesized by
plants. For instance, the pure sources of this vitamin are found in fish
liver oils such as cod and shark, and organ meats such as liver. The
plant carotenes are converted into vitamin A within the animal and human
body only when conditions for such conversion are conducive to the
utilization of the vitamin. If you suffer from liver or gall bladder
problems, or you have difficulty digesting fats you are not likely to
gain the full benefits from this vitamin. It is not recommended that you
depend upon the plant sources of vitamin A, because these plants, such
as carrots, spinach, broccoli and mustard greens are very fragile and
quite susceptible to oxidation.
Many men worry about
taking too much vitamin A because they have heard that fat soluble
vitamins have a propensity to accumulate in the liver and cause damage.
This has never happened with a natural vitamin A product, only with the
synthetic variety. But for those of you who are still concerned about
their lack of vitamin A may we suggest that you purchase the water
soluble form. This is a dry, powder form of vitamin A that comes in
tablet or capsule form and is used in dosages as high as 25,000
international units. Vitamin A is one of the most commonly deficient of
all the nutrients.
It's vitamin A which affects the
factors which stimulate mucus secretions and which maintains the
integrity of the membranes which line the gastrointestinal and
respiratory tracts. Vitamin A also is associated with the release of
enzymes necessary for the digestion of protein and the proper
functioning of the adrenal cortex. It is good sense to take vitamin E at
the same time you ingest your vitamin A tablets as the E helps prevent
the oxidation of A. Bad skin and poor muscle growth are two more common
problems caused by a deficiency of vitamin A.
a disease which plagued many, was produced in laboratory animals in
1919. It was found that if the lab animals were fed diets which
contained cod liver oil they remained healthy. The same diet, but with
the cod liver oil replaced by other types of oil, produced bone
abnormalities. It was not until 1922 that scientists discovered another
important factor in cod liver oil besides vitamin A. It was named
vitamin D. Soon it was discovered that experimental rickets in
laboratory animals could be prevented by exposure to the sun and that if
the diet that produced rickets was exposed to the ultraviolet light of
the sun, it could cure those who had rickets. This is because human skin
and the sinks of animals contain a substance called cholesterol which
is transformed into vitamin D-3 when it is exposed to the ultraviolet
rays of the sun.
The best known and understood function
of vitamin D is to facilitate the absorption of calcium from food in
the intestinal tract. The absorption of phosphorus depends upon the
absorption of calcium so that any factor that exerts a favorable or
unfavorable effect on one affects the other likewise. Thus by improving
the absorption of calcium and phosphorus and by aiding in the
maintenance of the normal blood levels of these two body builders,
vitamin D makes both available in a concentration that is suitable for
growth and development. What happens if you don't get enough vitamin D?
Well, as a starter, your muscles lose tone and become weak and flabby,
your bones soften and your teeth become especially prone to decay.
natural form of vitamin D, the type produced in your skin by sunlight
or the type that comes from cod liver oil, egg yolks or liver, is called
C-3 and should be the only type of vitamin D you use. Vitamin D-12 is
produced in plants by irradiating plant sterols with ultra-violet light
which causes a very potent type of vitamin D activity, the type which is
known to be toxic when used in excessive amounts. This is the form used
in the fortification of milk and a number of other foods and is used
also in a very large percentage of vitamin supplements. It is fairly
safe to assume that if the label of the supplement does not state that
the product contains fish liver oil, the source of the vitamin D is
irradiated ergosterol and is thus the D-2 form, which you should avoid.
Among the conditions which have been induced by vitamin D-2 are kidney
stones, heart-artery degeneration, cataracts, abnormal calcium deposits,
and excessively high levels of calcium in the blood. The University of
Texas (Austin) has conducted two years of research with D-2 and reached
the conclusion that even small amounts of irradiated ergosterol can be
highly toxic and may be one of the causes of arteriosclerosis. Again for
vitamin D use only cold liver oil, egg yolk, liver or supplements that
have their vitamin D-3 derived from these natural sources.
synthetic forms of vitamin D, known as D-2 are regarded by many
researchers as not a vitamin, but as a steroid hormone. Irradiated
ergosterol is not the natural form of the hormone, and so vitamin D-2
is, in fact, an unnatural growth-promoting steroid hormone, rather than a
member of a large family of vitamins. In this respect D-2 is very
similar to dianabol or diethylstilbesterol (DES), the unnatural
growth-promoting hormones formerly used to fatten livestock and unwary
Soviet Union has a little known 'secret weapon' that gives their
athletes a burst of superior power. Feeding it to their athletes, the
Soviet Academy of Medical Sciences Nutrition Institute and the Central
Institute of Physical Culture have discovered that it gives a healthy
burst of vigor so that average athletes can extend the training
The Soviet 'secret weapon' of physical
power is known to us as Vitamin E. While our government has only
recently recognized it as being essential in the diet, the Soviets are
far ahead of us in using this vitamin to boost the physical ability of
their athletes. Here is a run-down of the little-known test that were
conducted by the Soviet investigators, as reported to the Medical
Tribune and hardly mentioned elsewhere.
selected 34 cyclists and 37 skiers. All were between the ages of 15 and
25. The purpose was to see if Vitamin E could give them extra energy and
training vigor during competitive circumstances. In brief, they wanted
to learn, once and for all, if Vitamin E could turn an average athlete
into a champion. The athletes were divided into two groups. One would be
given Vitamin E. The other group would not. Yet both groups would be
put through the same difficult training routine and both groups would be
given the same high caloric diet to give them the required energy for
such responsibilities. About 4200 calories a day were judged suitable
for energy performance.
The doctors added that even if
you eat a balanced diet with whole grain foods, you still need
supplemental Vitamin E in order to meet the challenge of athletic
endurance. This controlled program effectively proved that Vitamin E
does give an energy boost and helps athletes excel in sports. They also
reported that those without Vitamin E were exhausted before the end of
the training period and showed symptoms of exhaustion. The athletes
receiving Vitamin E had good blood levels of this nutrient. They
finished their training sessions with no oxygen deficit. These athletes
did feel physically tired, but they were not depleted and could bounce
back for the next training session.
The group given
Vitamin E received 100 to150 milligrams of Vitamin E if they had a
training period of of 1.5 to 2 hours. They received boosted intakes of
Vitamin E of 250 to 300 milligrams if they had a training period of 3 to
4 hours, since the longer an athlete has to train, the greater his need
for Vitamin E.
The other group received no
supplemental Vitamin E, but it is assumed that they ingested about 20
milligrams through their regular diets.
reported that Vitamin E is helpful for everyone but particularly for
athletes in training and performance. The reason is that when your body
is subjected to increased physical activity, the metabolic system uses
up Vitamin E much more rapidly than under normal circumstances.
Vitamin E has superior powers in performing a unique anti-oxidant
reaction in the system. It makes more oxygen available to the cells and
tissues of the body. This oxygen then promotes more energy, giving a
more superior burst of strength. This is the key to the power of Vitamin
Every weight trainer knows how valuable oxygen is
to give him strength and vigor. Whether doing squats, cleans, deadlifts,
bench presses, curls, situps, jogging or swimming, the body needs more
oxygen. The more oxygen available, the more the body can respond.
Vitamin E has this anti-oxidant effect giving the body better use of
Other European doctors wanted to determine whether
Vitamin E can give an athlete a winning body, and they made tests which
were reported by the Czechoslovakian medical journal, Acta Universitatis Palakianae Olomucensis (Volume 42). The
study was undertaken by Dr. Z Jirka, head of the Institute of Sports
Medicine of the Medical Faculty of the Palacky Institute in Olomouc,
Czechoslovakia. Here is what Dr. Jirka had to say:
E and especially its most active component, alpha tocopherol, has a
widespread activity taking part in a great number of biological
processes. Its participation in enzymatic processes influences the
activity and metabolism of the muscles, and therefore, it is very
valuable to those engaged in athletic pursuits."
and powerlifters have often yearned for the 'strength of a horse'.
Tests were conducted at Winfields Farm in Toronto and the National Stud
Farm in Oshawa, Canada. Supervised by several doctors over a period of
two years, the results indicated that all of you horses out there can
also benefit from the use of Vitamin E. Horses given Vitamin E to boost
their strength were able to give a much better exhibition of themselves
by increasing their strength in jumping competition and by winning 66
percent or more of their contests during their first year of Vitamin E
Under supervision, the horses received
from 800 to 2000 units of Vitamin E daily. They exhibited increasing
bursts of vigor. Many of these horses became champions, this believed to
be in part due to the impetus of the 2000 units daily of Vitamin E. In
another situation, horses received 5000 units daily with equally amazing
improvement in their performance.
Vitamin E helps give
you more mileage for your oxygen. As for the horses, the doctors
describe it "as if one strapped an aqualung on the horses' backs. It
opens up huge reserves of capillary circulation, sets of vessels not
ordinarily used, but waiting for emergency demands. It helps to control
the passage of fluids through the walls of blood vessels. It may even be
a direct stimulant to muscle power. It improves the metabolism of
carbohydrates, fats and proteins. These are just a few of its unique and
Build storage-reserve depots of
Vitamin E in your body and it can be used to make your workouts more
productive by increasing your endurance. When you have a reserve of
Vitamin E in your body, your muscles can draw upon it to give your body
the needed extra burst of endurance to turn an ordinary workout into a
championship caliber one.
The question now remains:
From where should you get Vitamin E and how much should be taken? There
are many component parts that make up the vitamin which we call Vitamin
E. They have been given the names alpha, beta, gamma, etc. (However,
scientists have pinpointed the alpha factor or alpha tocopherol as being
the most biologically potent compound in the tocopherol family.) The
other tocopherols, if they have a function on the human body, remain a
mystery. This is why, when you buy Vitamin E, it is available in several
forms; mixed tocopherol containing the complete spectrum of Vitamin E;
alpha tocopherol, which contains only the active proportion of the
vitamin, and the synthetic form which contains only alpha tocopherol.
richest natural sources of Vitamin E are wheat germ and wheat germ
oil, and as in all vitamins, taking them in their natural form is
probably the best. The Shute brothers believe that only the alpha
tocopherol should be taken in the treatment of various circulatory
problems they discuss in their book, Your Heart and Vitamin E. Some
nutritionists agree with the Shutes, others do not, believing that the
mixed tocopherols are best; using the premise that as in the case of
Vitamin B and C, one should not break up the family in which the
nutrient belongs. One thing that all of the nutritionists agree on,
however, is not taking the synthetic form of the vitamin. Unless the
label on the bottle says that the Vitamin E contained is from natural
sources, don't take it.
In their tests, the Soviets
administered 50 units of Vitamin E for each half hour that their
athletes practiced their sport or engaged in physical activity. This
should be a good place for you to start, but try to take in at least 200
units of Vitamin E a day even if you don't train for two hours every
day. This is the amount that nutritionists feel is necessary, though I
have heard of many physique contestants taking as much as 1000 or 2000
units per day. There is no toxic level known for Vitamin E so don't be
afraid to take more than the recommended 200 units.
bear in mind that like Vitamins A and D, Vitamin E is a fat soluble
vitamin and should be taken with some food that contains rat, er, that
should read fat. Many men take their Vitamin E and wheat germ oil
immediately after their workout as they seem to find this most
effective. Another suggestion is to take it with Vitamin A, as E helps
prevent the destruction of A in the body.
Those men who
are on all-meat definition diets need extra reserves of Vitamin E.
Since the meat contains so much fat, the body's need for Vitamin E is
increased, and if it isn't taken, these men will be deficient.
at the other side of the coin, there are some men who have difficulty
in handling Vitamin E because it usually comes encased in capsules
containing oil. These men can buy chewable Vitamin E tablets which
eliminates the oil factor. These tablets could be the answer for them.
discovered following the observation that certain diets produced fatal
hemorrhages in laboratory animals. The symptoms looked like scurvy, the
Vitamin C deficiency disease, but they did not respond to the
administration of Vitamin C. Feeding alfalfa or other green leaves to
the sick animals brought about a dramatic relief from symptoms. Many
green leaves were studied and those of the alfalfa plant proved to be
exceptionally rich in the new factor. A Danish investigator isolated a
fat-soluble substance from alfalfa leaves and because it corrected the
clotting or coagulation time of the blood, he called it the Koagulation
Vitamin. This was shortened to Vitamin K for convenience.
K is essential for normal functioning of the liver an for the formation
of prothrombin by the liver. Prothrombin is one of several components
that react together to form a blood clot. Capillaries become fragile and
break down when the body is short of Vitamin K due to the hemorrhages
that accompany a shortage of prothrombin. Vitamin K shortages are quite
common among individuals with bizarre eating habits such as are quite
common among today's teenagers. You are born without any reserves of
Vitamin K but microorganisms in the intestinal tract make the vitamin.
The acidophilus bacillus, which we mentioned in the chapter on digestive
supports, synthesizes the vitamin, though many men use alfalfa tablets
routinely, not realizing that their bodies are not capable of extracting
the Vitamin K from the alfalfa because the human digestive system is
not equipped with the proper type of enzymes to break down the tough,
fibrous walls of the alfalfa.
In addition to that
available through bacterial synthesis in the intestines, Vitamin K is
obtained from green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, egg yolk, soybean oil
and liver. The only time it may be necessary for you to take a Vitamin K
supplement is when you are ill with some type of digestive disturbance
such as colitis, diarrhea, jaundice or a disease which necessitates the
taking of antibiotic drugs which destroy the intestinal flora.
members of the B family of vitamins are grouped together because they
have several qualities in common. First, they are water soluble and have
the problem of being washed away in both normal cooking and especially
in the preparation of convenience foods. Another problem with the B
vitamins is the relatively poor storage of water soluble vitamins in the
A third problem leading to B deficiencies is the
tissue depletion such as arises out of special situations such as
strain, stress, trauma and fast growing periods. The B's are also very
heat liable, that is, they are destroyed not only by the obvious heat
involved in cooking, but processing, refining and storage also take
Many men suffer from B deficiencies even
though they are ingesting more than the ordinary recommended daily
dietary allowance. This is due to the individual's metabolic make-up and
inability to absorb B vitamins adequately from the digestive tract. The
National Research Council states in one of their footnotes that RDA are
for "healthy people in a temperate climate with a medium work load and
food of substantially average quality." This sort of limitation just
about rules out everyone who lifts weights or doesn't live a few miles
north or south of the tropic of cancer or the tropic of capricorn!
the main reason that most people suffer from B complex deficiencies is
not that 'somebody out there is devitalizing my food' (they are of
course), but because they are not taking the responsibility to eat
well-planned meals and supplement their diets when appropriate.
other words, diets are poor due to the fault of the person eating.
Dietary deficiencies are basically the result of irresponsibility,
carelessness and laziness.
The B vitamins are quite
plentiful in nature but you must avail yourself of the foods that
contain them and use them daily. Let's have a look at the best
understood B vitamins.
Thiamine (B-1) protects the
heart and is indispensable for the health of the nervous system.
Thiamine is needed for effective digestion of carbohydrates, natural
carbohydrate foods are always accompanied by thiamine, but when you eat
refined carbohydrates, such as white sugar and white bread, your body
must use its own storage supplies of thiamine to digest the
carbohydrates properly. This may eventually lead to a thiamine
deficiency. Lack of thiamine leads to insomnia, digestive disorders,
lack of appetite, loss of weight and muscle weakness.
(B-2) protects the health of your skin, nails, hair and eyes. Some of
the most common symptoms of a B-2 deficiency include cracks on the lips,
premature wrinkles and split fingernails.
Niacinamide or Nicotinic Acid (B-3). Best known as the anti-pellagra
vitamin. Niacin, though not the other two forms of B-3, dilates small
capillaries. Many weight men take up to 100 mg. before a workout because
they say that they get a better muscle stimulation. The face and neck,
and sometimes other bodyparts turn beet-red with the niacin flush which
is sometimes accompanied by itching and tingling of the skin. It s a
very uncomfortable feeling and it is not recommended as a regular part
of your training since such high doses may be difficult, for people with
certain abnormalities, to handle.
Pyridoxine (B-6) is
involved in protein metabolism and in the production of antibodies. It
helps to maintain tissue integrity and lecithin cannot be synthesized
when B-6 is deficient. A doctor who was treating patients with B-6 for
various conditions found to his amazement that many of the patients
reported losing weight and inches without cutting calories. While taking
50 mg. of B-6 daily, it was found that this vitamin sets up some type
of body balance between the minerals potassium and sodium which regulate
the body's use of fluids. When the mineral potassium was added to the
B-6, the combination helped reverse bursitis. Since B-6 is required for
the utilization of protein foods and most weight trainers are eating
high protein diets, it would be expedient to supplement your diet with
at least 100 mg. of B-6 daily. When using separate or isolated B
vitamins, remember also to use the entire B complex so that you maintain
some sort of balance; he entire B spectrum is required for strength and
health, the fractions are only for special purposes.
Biotin (Vitamin H) is also involved in the metabolism of protein and fat. A shortage of biotin causes fatigue and hair loss. Biotin is another one of those vitamis that is synthesized by bacteria in the digestive tract. The daily requirement is as high as 300 mg. though there is no ways of knowing how much is produced in a person's intestines.
Pantothenic acid is one of the most versatile B vitamins and is involved in almost all vital body processes. It increases cortisone production, protects against stress, and speeds recovery from fatigue. In animal tests with pantothenic acid, raw egg white, as an allergen, was injected into animals that were made deficient in pantothenic acid - the animal died of shock. Litter mates that were plentifully supplied with pantothenic acid suffered no adverse effects from the raw egg whites. The daily requirement is approximately 10 mg. but healthy male volunteers were were given 500 times this amount daily for six weeks prior to stress tests. They were then immersed in very cold water for eight minutes. Their stress lasted only eight minutes. but those who were given pantothenic poor diets suffered destruction of protein, loss of salt, loss of blood sugar, and a rise in cholesterol while the group on the pantothenic rich diet suffered none of these problems and there were no toxic effects from taking such large dosages of this vitamin. It looks like the sky is the limit with pantothenic acid and all weight men should take special care to get a sufficient quantity since they work under stressful conditions.
Choline and Inositol must be included in the diet. They, along with the amino acid methionine, are sometimes knows as lipotropics because they are necessary for the formation of body fats known as phospholipids, the most popular of which is lecithin. They are involved in fat metabolism and promote normal distribution of fat throughout the body. Many bodybuilders, in preparation for physique contests take anywhere from 1000 to 5000 mg. of each of these two vitamins daily in the belief that it eliminates unwanted fat and brings out definition It is doubtful if this is effective unless a strict diet is adhered to, which most of the top men follow anyway. There is no toxic level for these vitamins.
Vitamin B-12, like many other members of the B complex, is not a single substance, but consists of several related compounds. B-12 is the antipernicous anemia factor which is formed within your intestine as a result of eating animal products. Strict vegetarians are woefully short of this vitamin and should supplement their diets so as to avoid any possibility of a physical breakdown. The best sources are liver and kidney. Though the RDA is only 8 to 15 micrograms daily, it is not at all unusual for weight trainers to get a weekly injection of 100 to 1000 micrograms because B-12 also has a cell building function and many men start gaining again after five or six injections. It may be that the body was not producing enough B-12 or that the diet was short of this growth producing factor. No one seems to have the answer.
Pangamate or Pangamic acid (B-15). There are three groups of biological activities that have been established for this new member of the B family. It stimulates the adrenal gland and the central nervous system and also decreases the blood cholesterol level as it works to prevent fatty degeneration of the liver. It stimulates metabolism by increasing the amount of oxygen made available for the cells. Last, but not least, it detoxifies the system by neutralizing and excreting poisons and helping to repair damage caused by prolonged use of drugs.
Now that you know the importance of the B vitamins, you probably want to begin eating them at every meal. Here is a list of the best sources:
All whole grain products
Seeds, nuts, beans and peas
Beef and liver
Brewers or food yeast
Wheat germ and wheat bran
Vegetables and fruit
How would you like to never be sore again after a hard workout? Even though you have not exercised for months, how would you like to take a good hard workout and not feel the slightest bit sore or tender the next day? "Not possible," you say. No one really knows what causes muscle soreness, but all the researchers seem to agree that it has something to do with either a buildup of toxins in the muscle after unaccustomed exercise or a slight tearing or breaking of tissue under stress.
Vitamin C helps in both of these areas. Try taking 1000 mg of Vitamin C immediately before and another 1000 mg of Vitamin C right after your next rough training session, and look for the results the next day. No soreness, no painful muscles, no grunt and groan with every movement, all accomplished merely by popping a couple of little capsules in your mouth. The most important function of Vitamin C is keeping the collagen -- the intercellular cement -- in a healthy condition. Collagen is the substance which keeps all of your tissues together. A deficiency of Vitamin C causes the deterioration of the collagen and consequently the breakdown of tensile strength of all connective tissues, including the muscles.
Vitamin C helps to build and maintain bones and blood and is essential for the proper functioning of the adrenal glands and assists in the oxygenation of the cells. It is known as an anti-stress vitamin because it helps you to snap back after fatiguing activities. The cholesterol level of the blood is also affected by adequate intake of Vitamin C. In conjunction with the bioflavonoids, Vitamin C corrects capillary fragility and permeability.
Smoking destroys Vitamin C at such an alarming rate that some scientists speak of smokers living in an eternal state of subclinical scurvy. Exposure to cold weather also increases your need for Vitamin C.
There are a number of ways of determining if you are not getting sufficient Vitamin C. Bleeding gums during brushing of the teeth indicates that you may be short of Vitamin C. Weakness, irritability, unaccounted-for weight loss and vague aches and pains accompanied by easy bruising of tissues or black and blue marks are sure signs that you are deficient in this super vitamin.
The best natural sources of Vitamin C are fresh, raw fruits and vegetables, such as citrus fruit and their white inner pulp, apples, green peppers, broccoli and turnip greens. The best source of all is rose hips, which are the fruit of the rose,and acerola berries, which are 20 to 40 times as rich in Vitamin C as oranges.
Natural Vitamin C has greater biological value than ascorbic acid, which is the drug store variety of Vitamin C, because it is made from natural sources, which contain other C complex factors such as the bioflavonoids. 5000 mg per day is not unusual for a hard training athlete; this is due to the fact that it cannot be stored and is excreted shortly after taken, so it must be replaced daily.
How did we get to be so dependent upon Vitamin C? Blame mother nature. About 60 million years ago, a mutation occurred in the human gene which made it impossible for man, like lower primates, to synthesize vitamin C in his own body, like we some of the B vitamins. This means that unless sufficient vitamin C is eaten every day, preferably several times a day, a degenerative disease called scurvy develops. One researcher believes that scurvy has killed more people since the beginning of time than all other causes combined including wars and bubonic plague!
Speaking philosophically, the science of good nutrition has fallen prey to the same communications gap as have so many of life's other areas. By labeling things, we actually restrict our understanding or at least limit it. I'm not against labels or names. They aid us in identifying things, but they also confine truth to the limits of the label. For instance, vitamin P, by any other name, will still do its terrific job, but how will we know it by any other name? It has several: vitamin U, rutin, hesperin, citrin, flavonoids, and the bioflavonoids. Trying to find out who called it what first is like trying to find out who did the first 500-lb bench press. For most common reference, the bioflavonoids have been used to supplant the other labels.
The bioflavonoids are substances that appear in many fresh foods along with vitamin C. They could be called the sentinels of our capillaries. The capillary is the smallest blood vessel in the body and can be seen only by a microscope. Most are so small that only one blood corpuscle can pass through them at a time. These capillaries connect the smallest arteries with the smallest vein. This is what comprises the entire network of blood vessels throughout your body. Food which is carried in the blood stream passes through their walls by a process known as osmosis. The nutrients are then received by the tissues and waste materials from the tissues passes through the capillary into the blood stream. The bioflavonoids, more than vitamin C, have been found to maintain the integrity of capillaries through which nutrients and waste products pass. The bioflavonoids are, therefore, responsible for maintaining the strength of the capillaries.
Like vitamin C, bioflavonoids are not stored in the body. They are excreted in the urine if an excess amount is taken. During times of stress, like when exercising hard and regularly, your body needs many more times the amount of these substances than it normally gets from the average diet. Though there is no recommended daily amount for bioflavonoids, many men supplement their diets with 1000 mg a day in addition to the amount they get from their diets.
Vitamin B-15 is a vitamin that you have probably never heard of, yet it possesses curative and protective functions similar to vitamin E. The most important functions of vitamin B-15 are to increase the supply of available oxygen in the blood, to detoxify poisons and to make lecithin. It may also be involved in slowing the aging process. The capability of vitamin B-15 to cure or help many forms of heart disease and senility, and to reduce the aging rate, prompted a famous Russian researcher, Dr. Ya Yu Shpirt to remark, "I believe the time will come when there will be calcium pangamate (vitamin B-15) on the table of every family."
Athletes, especially athletes once thought to be past their prime, have benefited greatly from pangamate. It is obvious that since pangamate increases the supply of available oxygen, athletes will have greater 'wind' and more reserve. Other advantages of pangamate to the person engaged in athletic activities include "improved energy, less fatigue, increased muscle size and faster healing of injuries," says the Russian.
In 1957, Dr. N. N. Yakovlev of Leningrad showed that pangamate had a positive effect of metabolism during extensive physical exercise accompanied by a decrease in oxygen saturation and oxygen debt. In 1962, Dr. Leshkevich demonstrated that pangamate had additional positive effects during less strenuous, but prolonged physical exercise, in that utilization of fats as an energy source markedly increased.
Dr. Yakovlev and Dr. Leshkevich reported in 1964 that the earliest manifestation of the effect of pangamate was a decrease in the formation of lactic acid in the muscles and an increase in fat metabolism, which was even noted after a single administration of 5 mg of the vitamin. Less expenditure of muscle glycogen was also noted.
It was noted that pangamate has a greater effect in exercises of short manifestation when a considerable oxygen deficiency and disturbances in the energy balance occurs. The positive effect of pangamate was more strongly pronounced when given daily for at least three days, and the positive effect was preserved for four days after the last dose.
Dr. Yu L. Karpuchina, also of Leningrad, worked with 67 highly training championship athletes. His results also showed that pangamate had a beneficial effect during muscular activity. This effect maintains normal blood sugar levels and increases the intensity of the process of aerobic oxidation (supplies oxygen better). The beneficial effect becomes progressively more significant as the work performed becomes more, and the less the oxygen demand is satisfied.
Dr. Karpuchina concluded, "Objective data of biochemical examinations have shown that the administration of pangamate creates more favorable conditions in athletes for performance of hard exercises and enhances the biochemical restitution during rest periods. The effect observed was the result of the action of pangamate; it could not be interpreted as a conviction of the athletes that they had been given a substance facilitating performance. When the equivalent amount of glucose was substituted for pangamate, no effect on the biochemical changes in the blood during muscular activity was observed, although the athletes assumed that they had been given the pangamate."
V. A. Alckseev demonstrated that pangamate improved protein utilization. Russian trainers now recommend pangamate with protein to speed muscle development and healing.
Each athlete must be evaluated as a unique individual, but most of the weight trainees that I have worked with are unaware of the existence of pangamate and have little in their diets, and so respond to vitamin B-15 supplements. The best natural food source of pangamate are sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, yeast, liver, rice bran and polish, whole grain cereals and apricot kernels. Pangamate, also known as pangamic acid, calcium pangamate or vitamin B-15, is available as a dietary food supplement. The Pharmacological Committee of the Ministry of Health of the U.S.S.R. suggests the use of 100 to 300 milligrams of pangamate daily.
Next: Chapter 12 - Minerals