All natural foods contain the micronutrients necessary for their metabolism but seldom have their original spectrum of vitamins when they reach the table. While caloric values and the quantity and quality of protein, carbohydrate, and fat are relatively unchanged, at least six vitamins can be lost or partly destroyed by steaming, frying, boiling, roasting, processing, freezing, drying, storage, and/or irradiation. Essential elements are usually lost only through boiling. Industrialized food processing often results in deficiency in vitamins and elements necessary for metabolism. Thus, dietary supplementation is the price we must pay for wide distribution of purified, stored, and processed foods. Without supplementation, we run the risk of unbalancing the diet in micronutrients.
Nourishment of the various cells of the body presents a formidable problem in logistics. The right food has to be consumed, it has to be absorbed, and it has to be distributed equitably. Since circulation patterns are vastly different in individuals, there is no assurance that every cell and tissue always gets exactly what it needs.
The problem is further complicated by different cells of the body not having the same nutritional requirements. For example, glutamine is not an essential amino acid because the body can get along without an exterior supply. While it is an absolute necessity for several types of human cells, other cells provide glutamine in excess by intercellular symbiosis. However, should anything be wrong with the glutaminic-producing apparatus, an unessential amino acid suddenly becomes essential. Several other cellular nutrients such as inositol, asparagine, and lipoic acid are probably involved in the same type of symbiosis.
If this were not problem enough in attempting to determine adequate nutritional levels for patients, there is also the question of adequacy for humans. Animal requirements, on which most experiments are based, are not necessarily human requirements. Individual variations in requirements can be exasperatingly large -- even without any distinguishable pathology. Needs are quite different from one person to another, and they are so for the elderly and the young. Although certain nutrients occur widely in foods, this does not mean that deficiencies will not occur. That depends on storage, processing, vagaries of diet, absorption rates, distribution rates, metabolism, clinical, and subclinical disease processes, and all the other peculiarities of individuals and their requirements. Then add the effect of emotional and physical stress.
At least seven vitamins are removed in typical processing from wheat to the extent of 50-86 percent of that of whole grain, and six essential trace elements are diminished to 40-88 percent. Four are added to "enrich" flour. Only traces of essential elements and no vitamins remain in refined sugar. It is likely that many people have marginal intake of those vitamins and minerals not replaced when they depend on refined carbohydrates for calories. Furthermore, the processing, canning, partitioning, storage, and cooking foods necessary for widespread distribution in our society remove some trace elements and partly destroy some vitamins necessary for proper metabolism. Most of these trace elements are not replaced except for supplementation.
Raw unprocessed foods naturally contain the necessary micronutrients and trace elements necessary for their metabolism. It is unfortunate from a nutritional standpoint that almost all foods are cooked or superheated, refined, processed in many ways, preserved with additives or irradiated, which have little effect on protein, carbohydrate or fat content, but adversely affect certain micronutrients and trace elements necessary for their proper metabolism.
Those vitamins and minerals that are heat labile can be partly destroyed or volatilized. Particularly sensitive are thiamine, pyridoxol, pyridoxamine, ascorbic acid, pantothenic acid, folacin, and selenium.
The separation of food into its components can separate micronutrients necessary for metabolism. For example, when whole milk is separated into butter and skim milk, the butter contains substantial quantities of calcium and phosphorus, but much of the vitamin D necessary for its absorption remains in the skim milk.
Water soluble micronutrients can be partly removed from the food during boiling; thus, they remain in the water that is normally discarded. This loss is neither a small amount nor only a few nutrients. Note the many water-soluble micronutrients:
Studies on the amounts of vitamin C, thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin in vegetables show that there are large losses after freezing or canning. As much as 62 percent of vitamin C can be lost by cooking or freezing. Storage for a year results in about 85 percent loss; canning produces about 90 percent loss. Half the B vitamins are lost in cooking frozen vegetables; up to 84 percent is lost in canning. Hurrah, carotene is generally stable.
R. C. Schafer, D.C., F.I.C.C.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Dr. Schafer's book on Clinical Chiropractic: The Management of Pain and Disability -- Upper Body Complaints is now available. Please see the Preferred Reading and Viewing list on Page xx, Part #T125 to order your copy.