Bio-Chemical Individuality: towards an understanding of which nutritional supplements should be taken and, how many and for how long. Part One
To begin, we should put to rest a myth that is still very prevalent in out society. That is the myth that dietary supplements are not necessary. Why? First off, can you get all the nutrients you need simply by eating a healthy diet? How many people can really eat the five servings of fruits and vegetables per day that are recommended? It is a fact that most people fail to eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables daily. In reality, doing this is an almost impossible time consuming task. It is therefore this writer’s opinion that supplementation with top quality dietary supplements is beyond dispute.
Additionally, the conventional wisdom from so-called health experts is suspect and is seen to be nothing more than quackery under the veneer of respectability. In fact, the June 19th, 2002 volume of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) contains the “Clinician’s Corner” section that features the Scientific Review and the Clinical Applications, “Vitamins for Chronic Disease Prevention in Adults.”
They said: “Most people do not consume an optimal amount of all vitamins by diet alone…It appears prudent for all adults to take vitamin supplements.” 1
This is a good first step on the part of JAMA. Maybe in the future they will see the need to recommend the use of other vital supplements. When common sense begins to take over and someone is certain that nutritional supplementation is necessary for them, questions arise like which supplements, how many and for how long before having desired results. These questions may involve a lot of research on the inquirer’s part before finding satisfactory answers. It is hoped that the following article will supply the reader with a strategy for an ongoing program of nutritional supplementation.
To begin with, the most important nutrient for anyone is the one you are deficient in. As a practical starting point to answer this question in a general way, everyone should be concerned to know if they are getting the required nutrients in each class of the essential nutrients categories listed below. The first goal should be to obtain essential nutrients in our diets. If this is not feasible, then the question of which supplements, how many and how long to take a particular supplement is usually asked by those seeking to remedy a health issue and is more difficult to answer. Why is this? Those involved in the nutrition industry are well aware of the phenomena of varying results among the users of nutritional supplements. Some people have seemingly miraculous results, while others have no noticeable changes. Why is this so? It is easy to share the excitement with those who have the immediate results, but what can we say to those who see no change after using the same regiment of nutrients?
Before we can even attempt to answer this question of varying results, there is a concept called “Biochemical Individuality” that will help us understand why different individuals utilize nutrition more efficiently, leading to dissimilar results from nutritional consumption. If the reader gains anything from this article, I hope to at least shed some light on this phenomenon of differing results among individuals who are using the same supplements and to provide a rational basis for a continuing a program of nutritional supplementation.
As previously mentioned, some people seem to have immediate results while others do not notice anything. It is important to note that “noticing or feeling” is not necessarily indicative of the effectiveness of nutrition. How many people feel or notice a change when vitamin D is absorbed into the blood stream and feeds the cells in various places in the body? If you are getting vitamin D through your diet or supplementation and your body is utilizing it efficiently, how can you question the fact that a metabolic process is happening in your body and you are most certainly benefiting whether you notice it outwardly or not? Having said this, we all want to feel better. I don’t want to disparage those who do not feel well. Having a sense of wellbeing is very important to health.
Gaining an understanding the concept of biochemical individuality will also give us direction when trying to determine what amount of supplements is right for an individual. At least, it will provide the basis for experimenting with differing amounts of nutrients and not being discouraged.
The term “Biochemical Individuality” is the name of a book written by the brilliant biochemist, Roger J. Williams in 1956 and republished in 1998. Dr. Williams discovered the vitamins, Pantothenic acid in 1933 and Folic acid in 1941 Dr. Williams explains the “Genetotrophic Concept” a term which he coined and which is essential to understanding the concept of biochemical individuality as follows in the next three quotes:
“While the same physical mechanisms and the same metabolic processes are operating in all human bodies, the structures are sufficiently diverse and the genetically determined enzyme efficiencies vary sufficiently from individual to individual so that the sum total of all the reactions taking place in one individual’s body may be very different from those taking place in the body of another individual of the same age, sex, and body size.” 2
“Although every nutritionally important mineral, amino acid, and vitamin is needed by every individual, it follows – if biochemical individuality exists – that the needs are quantitatively distinctive for each individual.” 3
“It may be stated as follows: Every individual organism that has a distinctive genetic background has distinctive nutritional needs which must be met for optimal wellbeing.” (Emphasis mine) 4
In other words, each individual also has unique and distinctive nutritional needs. This means some individuals may need higher levels of nutrients than others. Determining and meeting those needs will give the body a fighting chance to combat health issues naturally.
This concept of biochemical nutritional individuality can also be explained by showing how human physiological differences are known to be both outward and internal.
We are individuals who are unique and different from everyone else. Your body’s appearance, though in many ways the same, is also quite different from your neighbors. We do not all look the same. We have both outward and inward differences. The inward differences are just as striking as our outward differences. Everyone has the same vital body organs. However, all stomachs are not the same size nor are hearts and other internal organs. They come in all shapes and sizes.
For example, what if someone’s intestinal lining is different or even malformed, thus hindering the absorption of critical nutrients into the blood stream? If this is the case, the individual may need more of certain nutrients just to get the necessary levels for cellular support. In addition, as Dr. Williams has shown in his above mentioned book, an individual’s internal composition and comprised of the different organ shapes and sizes are factors, plus an individual’s enzymic functions, excretion patterns and endocrine activities are involved and can have substantial impact on individual nutritional needs.
Biochemically speaking, you are an individual with differing nutritional needs. As a side note; when the government puts out the recommended daily nutritional allowances (RDAs), these figures for some people may have no relationship to reality. Unfortunately, as Dr. Williams has argued there may not be such a thing as normal or average nutritional requirements. Summarizing his laboratory experiments he says:
“It is worthy of note, however, that these experiments give strong corroboration of the central idea of this chapter, namely, (1) each human individual has quantitatively a distinctive pattern of nutritional needs, (2) from individual to individual, specific needs may vary several fold, and (3) important deficiencies may exist which have not been discoverable clinically by observing acute outward symptoms.” 5(emphasis mine)
Therefore, to summarize Dr. William’s research, each person has unique or distinctive nutritional needs. Furthermore, every person does not start at the same place when considering cellular health. Unfortunately for some individuals, many processes leading to bad health has begun to take a toll and they need to nourish the body in such a way as to provide the nutrients needed for the body’s immune system repair functions. The endocrine, digestive, and elimination systems of our bodies also need to be cared for.
In other words, we may need more than a daily maintenance amount of nutrients. Also, it should be noted that the government’s RDAs should not be confused with nutritional requirements. They are helpful and a good starting place when looking into where to start when analyzing your own nutritional picture. The RDAs criteria were developed for healthy people with no known illness or deficiency problems.
The challenge of nutritional science is to find ways to identify an individual’s unique needs. What we do know is that there are four main classes of essential nutrients. Listed below are the four main groups of nutrients with brief descriptions of their role in the body. Some common food sources are also listed. In addition, there are other important nutrients such as phytohormones or plant sterols, a unique group of antioxidants and other immune system support nutrients. These additional nutrients will be mentioned along with dietary enzymes which in effect make every work.
An individual will have to determine if he or she is deficient in any of these nutrients and then take steps to correct the problem. This is not an easy task. This task does not have to be seen as daunting. Using the title of one of Dr. William’s books when you start on this discovery process to determine your unique individual nutritional needs you will discover “The Wonderful World Within You.” And this will be wonderful indeed!
To Your Health,
Certified Wellness Consultant (DSHEA Certified) (Diplomat in Nutritional Education and Health)
Mr. Kettler is an ordained Presbyterian Elder and the owner of http://www.Undergroundnotes.com where his theological, philosophical and political articles can be read. He has worked in corporate America for over 30 years and is now realizing his dreams as a successful home business entrepreneur. Permission is hereby granted to reprint this article as long as my web site is retained in the biographical information. Mr. Kettler can be contacted by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org