This website is now published on my mobileme account. Any opinions expressed, however, are totally my responsibility.
The original website was published through the courtesy of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
Jim Andris, Sept. 17, 2003.
Neutriceutcals: The Need
According to a course offered at the University of Minnesota, Nutriceuticals are common food products that have been modified (potentially by genetic engineering) to have enhanced nutritional characteristics. Another common term is "food supplements." The story of how food and drink can be enhanced by the addition of supplements to the diet is a fascinating one, and a complex and revolutionary science-based technology for preserving and enhancing human life is rapidly growing.
Vitamin Deficiencies to Antioxidants
Vitamins were discovered in the early years of the Twentieth Century. English biochemist Hopkins and Polish scientist Cashmir Funk formulated the vitamin hypothesis of deficiency disease—that a lack of vitamins could make you sick. By 1922, vitamins A, B, B1, B2, niacin, folic acid, B6, C, D, and E had all been discovered, and in 1934 vitamin C was the first artificially synthesized by the Swiss Dr. Tadeusz Reichstein. Today we seldom see diseases such as pellegra, beri beri, or rickets, but in 1918, there were an estimated 10,000 deaths in the South due to pellegra, a niacin deficiency disease.
According to an article by Jack Challen, The Past, Present and Future of Vitamins, it took two more developments around the middle of the Twentieth Century before a quantum leap in the way vitamins were viewed could occur. The first was the discovery of Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) by Dr. Linus Pauling in 1944. This discovery laid the basis for modern molecular biology and the development of the concept of molecular disease. The second was the development of the free radical theory of aging by Denham Harman in 1954. According to this theory, free radicals—molecules with an unbalanced pair of elections—react with and damage DNA and other cell components. It is the oxidizing destruction at the molecular level of the cell that leads to aging and ultimately to death. Harman also realized then that antioxidant nutrients, such as vitamins C and E, could neutralize free radicals.
In the next twenty years, much research was done on the effects of vitamins C and E on reducing or reversing disease processes. In 1968, Dr. Linus Pauling described the theoretical foundation for nutritional medicine in the prestigious journal Science. Pauling's article became the subject of heated dispute from sectors of the medical profession, and this dispute remains to this day.
My own awareness of this next level of nutritional therapy began in 1975 when I sought to treat a number of ailments, notably gout and hepatitis B, through alternative medicine. I worked with chiropractor Bill Clay and later with Harvey Walker, M. D. in St. Louis. The work that I read at the time was recommending at least one gram of vitamin C and 400-800 I.U. units of vitamin E per day. These amounts were far in excess of the federal government's recommended daily allowances at the time. Of course, these allowances were recommended to prevent the known vitamin deficiency diseases, and did not acknowledge this "aging by oxidation" theory. Always the one to take the middle way, I have steadfastly taken 1 gram of vitamin C and 400 I.U. units of vitamin E for the last twenty five years. In addition, I took a daily multiple vitamin and mineral supplement. I have had doctor after doctor tell me that this regimen "won't hurt me," but I also have had friend after friend say to me, how do you stay so young-looking?
The Modern Perspective
Vitamins and Minerals