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By Julene Tripp Weaver
Vitamins through the Digestive System
A view from Susun Weed
This is a continuation of my report on Susun Weed's Immune Health talk.
Susun Weed says that people with HIV should not take vitamins; this is a
controversial statement since most alternative therapies and the current
literature on immune health and HIV recommends supplements.
If you remember last month's article, within the Wise Woman Tradition Step
5a is the use of supplements. The caution at this step according to Susun
is, "There's always the risk with synthesized/concentrated substances
that they'll do more harm than good, e.g., the men who took fish liver oil
in capsules and had a greater mortality from heart disease (the oil was
rancid)." (1) This statement brings up the issue of synthesized vitamins.
Large pharmaceutical companies invest heavily to promote vitamins because
they make them. Karl John Mincin, Consulting Nutritionist at Central Co-Op
says, "Nearly all vitamin supplements on the shelf are synthetically
manufactured. Raw materials for the hundreds of different brands are supplied
by five large chemical manufacturers, including Kodak, S. Denko, and others.
Even many so-called "food base" and "natural source"
vitamins are largely chemical concoctions, perhaps with a token amount of
actual food." (2) So when we take vitamins we are actually taking pharmaceuticals
and supporting these large companies.
Susun makes the claim that only well people can take vitamins. This rings
true for me; over and over as I work with people living with AIDS I notice
as they get sick they have trouble keeping vitamins down. The digestive
system begins to rebel and they cannot tolerate the supplements, often throwing
them up. Vitamins do not harm healthy people whose systems are working well,
but in anyone who is immune suppressed factors such as malabsorption or
decreased hydrochloric acid (HCL) production can cause supplements to become
a burden on the system. (3)
Why would they be a burden? Vitamins and mineral supplements are not in
a form our body can use; our body uses mineral salts not these synthetic
organic minerals. Have you noticed when you take vitamins your urine is
a bright fluorescent yellow? This is because your body spits back out what
you put in. Why? Because the majority of vitamins and minerals in pill form
are not absorbable. In some cases whole undigested pills will pass out of
your body intact. Stress occurs in the body because the kidneys are working
harder to process the indigestible compounds from the supplements. In addition,
these compounds can be disruptive to the intestinal flora. This can mean
an imbalance which can throw your system into a yeast infection, where candida,
the fastest growing of the yeasts, can take over.
The mechanism of absorption, or how the vitamins and minerals get into our
system from food, is the complete process starting where the cell walls
of the plants are broken down by chewing and peristalsis, and by the HCL
and enzymes in the stomach and small intestine. The enzymes are produced
primarily by the liver. The mash of this broken down mix is pressed against
the wall of the small intestinal where microorganisms transfer nutrients
into the blood. Once food passes into your large intestine it is in the
final stage of its journey, here it is liquid bulk that the large intestine
dehydrates and passes out of the body.
I've created a simplified chart of how our digestive system works, laying
out the differences between how food versus a pill goes through our system:
So before you spend precious dollars on a bottle of vitamins, minerals,
enzymes or any supplements think twice. What is it you want out of that
pill and are you likely to get it? There are other ways to introduce the
nutrition you are seeking; our bodies are made to digest minerals and vitamins
from the food we eat.
(1) Susun Weed, Menopausal Years The Wise Woman Way Alternative Approaches
for Women 30 - 90, Woodstock, NY: Ashtree Publishing, 1992, p. xiv.
(2) Karl John Mincin, "The Whole Truth About Vitamin Supplements,"
Central Co-Op News, Jan. - Feb. 1993, p. 10-11.
(3) Decreased HCL production is common in people who's T cell count has
dropped below 200.
Disclaimer: Please be advised this is a sharing of information that is not
meant to be used to replace medical treatment and your own intuitive sense
of your body and what it needs. Please see your medical provider (Dr., Naturopath,
Acupuncturist, etc.) to follow up on suggestions.