Bio-Chemical Individuality: towards an understanding of
nutritional supplements. by Jack Kettler
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 nutrient 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!
Let’s survey different categories of essential nutrition:
What are they? Monosaccharides are natural plant sugars. Eight have been identified as essential to optimal cellular needs and are utilized by the body in the battle against health issues. Monosaccharides are the newest class of recognized essential nutrients.
Glycosylation can be described as the course of action which involves the essential monosaccharides and is the beginning and end of cellular health without exception! In fact, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Review, February 2003, “If you don't have glycosylation, you don't have life.” Glycosylation is the adding of a polysaccharide (chain of sugars) to a polypeptide (chain of amino acids) in order to make a glycoprotein. Each of the essential biologically active sugars are needed by the body to make specific glycoproteins which coat every cell surface in our body, enabling the immune system to function by creating the cellular antenna on each cell surface. These cell surface antennas allow the cells to communicate with each other using a unique cellular alphabet.
Because of the importance of the glycosylation process and the role monosaccharides play in this process, many doctors, health practitioners and nutritionists are now calling monosaccharide technology the “operating system” of the human body. This is why I have this category listed first.
The Eight Monosaccharides:
These eight monosaccharides have been identified in Harper’s Biochemistry, chapter 56, of the 1996 and following editions. Only two, glucose and galactose are common in the modern diet.
A combination of green harvesting, processing, over cooking of foods and different eating habits account for the loss of these vital nutrients from the modern diet. If lacking any of these necessary sugars, it is prudent to supplement the missing ones. There is an ongoing scholarly debate regarding a healthy individual’s body and its ability to manufacture the missing ones from the two still common in our diets.
In regards to glycosylation, it should be noted that some cells are replaced in the body on a daily basis. Others cells are replaced weekly, monthly and, in the case of bone cells, may take a year or more to be replaced with new ones. The glycosylation process is ongoing and does not happen overnight and has the utmost bearing on the question of how long someone should supplement.
It should be noted that it is impossible to know which cells will receive the necessary requirement of monosaccharides, or how many cells will get the monosaccharides they need. The cells that die are being replaced by cells, which also need to be glycosylated and you may or may not have sufficient monosaccharides available at that moment to get that job done.
Many glycoproteins have a short life of 10 days or less. Keeping your body supplied with an adequate amount of monosaccharides seems prudent to be used for new glycoprotein synthesis process. It is also important to note that monosaccharide absorption, which is the beginning of the glycosylation process, depends upon the necessary enzyme, vitamin and mineral co-factors being present. Having the necessary co-factors is of huge importance. In fact, if you do not have the necessary co-factors, the vital nutrients will simply pass through your body and be eliminated in the waste.
2. Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs):
In biochemistry a fatty acid is a carboxylic acid or organic acid with a long aliphatic tail, either saturated or unsaturated. Most of the natural fatty acids have an even number of carbon atoms, because they are made up of acetate which has two carbon atoms.
It is important to maintain a balance of Omega 3 and Omega 6 in the diet as these two fatty acids work together to promote health. It should be noted that we get far more Omega 6 in our diets.
3. Amino Acids:
There are 22 known amino acids of which eight are essential. Amino acids have been called the "building blocks" of the body. They help in building cells and repairing tissue. In addition, they form antibodies to combat invading bacteria and viruses. They carry oxygen throughout the body and participate in muscle activity.
The eight essential are:
· Isoleucine provides elements required for the manufacturing of essential biochemical components in the body, which are utilized for the production of energy and stimulants to the upper brain and helps one to be mentally more alert. They can be found in eggs, fish, lentils, poultry, beef, seeds, soy, wheat, almonds and dairy
· Leucine also provide ingredients for the manufacturing of essential biochemical components in the body, which are utilized for the production of energy, stimulants to the upper brain and also helps one to be mentally alert. They can be found in cottage cheese, sesame seeds, peanuts, dry lentils, chicken, and fish
· Lysine insures the adequate absorption of calcium and helps form collagen which makes up bone cartilage and connective tissues and aids in the production of antibodies, hormones and enzymes. They can be found in food sources such as green beans, lentils, soybean, spinach and amaranth
· Methionine is a principle supplier of sulfur which prevents disorders of the hair, skin and nails. It helps lower cholesterol levels by increasing the liver's production of lecithin, reduces liver fat and protects the kidneys. They are found in fish, whole grains, and dairy
· Phenylalanine is used by the brain to produce Norepinephrine, a chemical that transmits signals between nerve cells and the brain; keeps you awake and alert. It reduces hunger pains, functions as an antidepressant and improves the memory. This is found in dairy products, almonds, avocados, lima beans, peanuts, and seeds
· Threonine is an important component of collagen and of enamel protein. It helps prevents fat build-up in the liver. It also helps the digestive intestinal tracts function more smoothly, assists metabolism assimilation. This is found in dairy products, beef, poultry, eggs, beans, nuts, and seeds
· Tryptophan is a natural relaxant and helps ease insomnia by inducing normal sleep. It reduces anxiety and depression; helps in the treatment of migraine headaches. It is known to help reduce the risk of artery and heart spasms and works with Lysine in reducing cholesterol levels and is plentiful in chocolate, oats, bananas, dried dates, milk, cottage cheese, meat, fish, turkey and peanuts
· Valine promotes mental vigor, muscle coordination and calms emotions and is found in dairy products, grain, meat, mushrooms, peanuts, and soy proteins
We get most of the amino acids from food. If we are lacking any of the essential ones, they must be supplied through supplementation. The others are non-essential, which means they can be manufactured by the body with proper nutritional intake. Remember that the adding of a polysaccharide (chain of sugars) to a polypeptide (chain of amino acids) is essential to make a glycoprotein. Monosaccharides and amino acids are without question vital for optimal health.
Amino Acid deficiency can be manifested as a weak immune system, fatigue, stomach acid or alkaline imbalance, dizziness and nausea, water retention, and infertility.
4. Vitamins and Minerals:
A vitamin is any group of organic substances which are essential for metabolism and for physiological growth and development. Vitamins also function as co-enzymes and are necessary for the proper functioning of an enzyme.
Vitamins and minerals are needed in the body for several important processes including:
Minerals are inorganic and are essential, acting as the necessary co-factors for many enzymes. Enzymes would not function without minerals. Minerals help the body organize the molecular construction of the cells and membrane. The fourteen minerals necessary for life are:
Phytoestrogens, the most important Phytohormones:
Phytoestrogens are compounds that occur naturally in plants and, under certain circumstances, can have actions like human estrogen. Phytoestrogens are commonly found in foods such as beans, cabbage, soybeans and grain. These nutrients help support communication among the body’s organs. They have been shown to support the body’s wellbeing against heart problems and weak immune systems.
· Saponins; the most important being diosgenin which comes from the wild yam root of the Dioscrea plant.
· Isoflavones are found abundantly in legumes or beans
· Lignins are found in seeds, particularly in flax seed
The Best Known Antioxidants:
Antioxidants are involved in the prevention of cellular damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are atoms with an abnormal number of electrons and can be formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules. They can do immense damage when they react with important cellular machinery such as DNA, or the cell coverings. The body’s defense system utilizes antioxidants. The best currently known antioxidants are:
Colostrum and Lactoferrin:
Colostrum or the mother’s first milk and is an important immune system builder. Consider how important lack of colostrum can be:
“If a calf, foal, puppy, etc. experiences difficulties at birth and is unable to nurse for 12 to 18 it will probably die. This is due to the re-absorption of immuno-factors by the mother.” 6
Lactoferrin is known to be a biologically active glycoprotein and helps activate the immune system and benefits intestinal cell health.
Essential Enzymes and human needs:
First, an enzyme is a protein that catalyzes or speeds up, a chemical reaction in the body. Enzymes are digestive agents that break down food particles into molecules that can then be absorbed through the intestinal walls and into the blood stream.
Secondly, enzymes require companions or helper molecules in order to operate. They are called co-factors. A co-factor is a substance that needs to be present with the enzyme for a certain reaction to take place. The term co-factor can refer to either an inorganic molecule that works with enzymes or organic molecules. It should be noted that some enzymes specifically require organic molecules (vitamins) to function correctly and others require inorganic molecules (minerals) to function properly. They are both called co-factors because they help carry pieces of molecules to different places in the body via the blood stream.
If the companion molecule is an organic vitamin then the companion is called a co-enzyme. The word co-enzyme refers to an organic molecule or a vitamin. A co-enzyme is a functional and necessary part of an enzyme.
Digestive enzymes come from food sources such as sprouts, papaya, pineapples, avocados, bananas and mangos. Enzymes are manufactured internally in our bodies by the digestive system which secretes them into the saliva, stomach, pancreas and intestines.
There are six main divisions or groups of enzymes. Within each class of enzymes there are many more.
The Six Groups:
· Hydrolases is needed to break down proteins, carbohydrates, and fat molecules into their simplest forms
· Isomerase breaks down chemical groups within molecules. Note: this enzyme is needed to help attach galactose (a monosaccharide) to the bodily cells
· Ligases brings about the unification of two different molecules
· Lyases splits the double bonds between atoms within certain chemical groups
· Oxidoreductases facilitates oxidation and reduction within a wide range of biological processes
· Trasnserases as the name implies, transfers chemical groups from one molecule to another
What happens if you are deficient in one or more critical enzymes? What if the necessary co-factors are not present? Or, what if the enzyme is missing the needed co-enzyme? Enzyme deficiency is known to cause heart problems, joint pain, obesity, and many other health problems because of the nutritional loss due to this deficiency. The importance of essential enzymes activity has been seriously overlooked in the field of nutritional science. There are a number of good enzymes supplements available in the marketplace.
In conclusion, hopefully, the information supplied above will help the reader with some directions when trying to answer the question regarding the right supplements and food sources along with how much of each particular supplement is needed by the body to feed or supply its necessary nutritional needs.
Unfortunately, there are no easy answers to each individual’s unique requirements. It would be wonderful if there was a nutritional body scanner that could answer this question. The doctor could then tell you if you needed extra vitamin B or more amino acids. Short of waiting for this machine to be invented, it seems prudent to adhere to a well balanced diet consisting of foods as close to their raw state as possible. In addition, maintaining a regime of essential nutrients and a proper exercise program, coupled with plenty of rest, drinking good clean water and breathing in clean air will help in developing a healthy active lifestyle.
Again, it needs to be asked, what happens if you are deficient in one or more of the essential monosaccharides, amino acids, vital dietary enzymes or vitamins and minerals? Will the glycosylation or other metabolic processes break down if an individual is lacking in their unique required nutritional needs?
Unless there are special factors that require a doctor’s analysis and recommendation, it is important to take enough of a supplement and take them long enough. Just like the glycosylation process which is ongoing, all cells need vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids and enzymes supplied in the diet or by supplementation to live. This is an ongoing, life long sustaining process. In other words, you need to nourish or feed your body.
Nutritional supplements are not drugs. We have to think of them differently. If we approach nutrition like drugs we will be looking for an overnight quick fix. Nourishing our bodies through proper diet and nutritional supplementation is completely different. It is a life style or way of life. Eating is necessary to live. It has been said “we are what we eat.” We need to evaluate if what we are eating is truly nourishment and not simply empty calories devoid of nutritional content.
And finally, some people ask when they would be able to stop taking a supplement. This question is a tip off that the individual is approaching a nutritional supplement like a drug. To make a point; what happens if you are deficient in one or more of the essential vitamins and minerals? Beriberi, pellagra, rickets and scurvy are well know nutritional deficiencies. If you had the symptoms of scurvy (a vitamin C deficiency) would you take a vitamin C supplement until the symptoms disappeared and then stop or make sure you are continuing to get enough vitamin C through your diet or a supplement for the rest of your life? The answer should be obvious.
In review, one of the ways the structure and function of cells are determined is by the nature of nutrition supplied into the body. Nutrition is the raw material that goes into the ongoing creation of new cellular structures. For this process to happen correctly you need to have vital nutrition in your body. Nutrition when ingested in the body is broken down into micronutrients which become the building blocks or parts used in the making of the cells in your body.
All of the recognized groups of nutrition are vital for improving cellular structure and function by supporting the physiological functions of repair, regeneration, and other immune defense mechanisms of the body. What I am saying is that the body repairs itself and nutrition provides the molecules necessary to accomplish this. When this happens, these are not a drug effects, it is normal physiology, in other words the biochemistry of the body is being changed nutritionally and because of this I am not claiming that nutritional products treat cure, or mitigate disease. In short, when the body has the correct nutrition supplied the structure of the new cells will normal and they will function correctly.
Nutrition is essential! You will not always feel (drug paradigm thinking) something from the supplementation of a nutrient for it to be supplying critically needed raw material for your body’s metabolism processes. Don’t short change yourself! Take charge of your health, live a healthy life style, nourish yourself with the best foods and find the best supplements on God’s green earth to support your body by giving it the tools needed to repair and correct it-self! In other words, give your body a fighting chance! Start discovering the wonderful world within you today. Support the immune, endocrine, digestive, and elimination systems of your body and don’t let health issues get the upper hand. Be proactive when it comes to your health!
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 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: email@example.com
Disclaimer: The information in this article should not be considered a substitute for a doctor’s care or advice.
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Roger J. Williams, Nutrition Against Disease, (New York, Pitman Publishing Corporation, 1971).
Roger J. Williams, Physicians Handbook Of nutritional Science, (Springfield, Illinois, Thomas Books 1975).
Anthony J. Cichoke, The Complete Book Of Enzyme Therapy, (New York, Avery, 1999).
Robert Ronzio, The Encyclopedia of nutrition and Good Health, (New York. Facts On File Inc., 2003).
Beth M. Ley, Colostrum & Lactoferrin, (Detroit Lakes, MN, BL Publications, 2000).
Lester Packer and Carol Colman, The Antioxidant Miracle, (New York, John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 1999).