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Orthomolecular nutrition and medicine

CHAPTER I        

Orthomolecular nutrition and medicine – introduction and basics

Our food is the most important basis for our physical, mental and spiritual health. It should be. How bad our food is can be seen from the fact that today far more than half of all illnesses have nutritional causes. Wrong eating habits, unbalanced nutrition and poor-quality food together make up this alarming balance.

What exactly is it that holds our body and soul together in „eating and drinking“? The science that researches everything has a sober answer to this question: It is the nutrients as the components of our food that give us energy and vitality. „Nutrients are a part of us,“ the well-known nutritional researcher Dr. Carl C. Pfeiffer once wrote, „Vitamins, amino acids and trace elements have been around since the time when cells began to join together to form tissues, and skin, glands, muscles, bones and nerves were formed.

These nutrients were already exerting their beneficial biochemical effects before the mind began to formulate thoughts. Even before scientists discovered their effects, the trace elements had taken over the role of intelligent ions for ages. They and other nutrients know exactly where in the organism they migrate to and what they have to do.

So without the right nutrients in the right quantities (and in the right places in the organism), life is not possible. Micronutrients, such as vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids, are components of enzymes without which life would die, because all life processes are enzymatically controlled.

Nutrients therefore ensure the correct functioning of cells, blood vessels, tissues and organs. Therefore it is not possible to say that some of the vital substances (essential micro-nutrients) are more important than others. Every single one is vital. Therefore, it is quite pointless to swallow vitamin preparations if the supply of minerals is neglected at the same time, because all nutrients work together.

It is true that our body has the amazing ability to maintain at least its basic functions even when there are bottlenecks and deficiencies in the supply of nutrients.
for a certain period of time. But at the end of the malnutrition, which often lasts for years, there are inevitably disorders, diseases and, in the worst case, chronic diseases.

So if you want to take the responsibility for your own health seriously, you would do well to study the basics of orthomolecular nutrition (O.M.E.). This sounds much more complicated than it actually is.
Orthomolecular nutrition is about the few, namely only about 50 essential nutrients that keep us full of energy, young, fresh and vital.
What is the knowledge of 50 or 80 nutrients that keep us healthy compared to the knowledge of 50,000 different drugs on the German market, most of which we do not need if we eat the right food?
What is the simple certainty of giving our body the nutrients it needs, against the complicated nutritional regulations, calorie counting and all the commercial rituals that are used today to advertise all kinds of diets against all kinds of ailments (obesity, rheumatism, heart and circulation problems, skin diseases)?

Orthomolecular nutrition gives you the security to do the right thing. It is based on a principle that is as simple as it is obvious:
We are healthy when our cells are healthy. Our cells are healthy when they have all the natural substances at their disposal that they need to perform their functions properly.
Many vital nutrients are no longer supplied to the body in sufficient quantities by the usual diet. This is especially true in the case of calorie-reduced diets, because a food quantity that does not exceed 800 or 1,000 kcal. will never reach the required nutrient density. But also with increasing age, due to poorer food utilization, harmful environmental influences, unhealthy lifestyle, little exercise, diseases, drug consumption and other factors, the daily nutrient requirement can increase, sometimes considerably.

Added to this is the increasingly important personal health care against civilisation diseases, cancer, heart and circulatory diseases, rheumatic complaints, diseases or weakness of the immune system, diabetes, overweight and premature signs of old age. Orthomolecular nutrition is the best precaution against these diseases, because it ensures the health and performance of our cells.

Basics of the
orthomolecular nutrition and medicine

Before the practical application of nutrients and vital substances, some facts have to be clarified in order to understand why vital substances are important for health and how they work. You have to understand the connection between the maintenance or restoration of health and the role of vital substances in this process.
When are we healthy? Basically, the answer to this question is quite simple. We are healthy when our body cells have permanent and sufficient access to all the substances that are necessary for their full function. Man is healthy when his cells are healthy.

Which substances are necessary for this?
What are nutrients? Nutrients are necessary for the health of the cells. They are called that because we usually take them in with our food. Nutrients such as carbohydrates or fat provide the body mainly with energy (calories). We usually have too much of these nutrients – which occasionally causes us grief and overweight.

Apart from energy, nutrients also provide structural building blocks for the body, such as protein for building muscle mass.
What are vital substances? There are also nutrients that provide little or no energy, but which are nevertheless absolutely vital for the metabolism or as building blocks for the cell structure. These are vitamins, minerals and trace elements as well as essential fatty and amino acids. We usually have too few of these, although they are only needed in small quantities. Because these (micro-) nutrients keep us healthy and our lives going, they are also called vital substances. Vital substances are wonderful natural substances. They regulate all processes in the body themselves (e.g. as catalysts) or as part of complex endogenous systems (e.g. enzymes). A lack of vital substances leads to functional disorders and finally to illness of the organism.

This can take years, because the body has emergency programs and helps itself for a long time. If, for example, the mineral calcium is missing, the body takes it from the bones or teeth. The dreaded osteoporosis can, many years later, be a consequence of this undersupply.

Vital substances in medicine

Today, vital substances are used specifically against a variety of diseases. A separate discipline, orthomolecular medicine, is researching the therapeutic effects of nutrients in ever greater detail. In some cases very high doses (so-called mega-doses) of individual nutrients are used, for example 15-200 g of vitamin C (by infusion) within 24 hours in the case of Candida infections.

The content of active substances in most vital substance preparations is not in the medical but in the nutritional-physiological range. This allows a targeted and effective use of the preparations in order to avoid or eliminate deficiency symptoms. Damage that has already occurred due to insufficient nutrient supply, the symptoms of which can be seen in the following individual descriptions of the preparations, is carefully balanced out without side effects. And what is perhaps most important: the preparations stimulate the body’s self-healing powers and keep it resistant and resilient.

Four problem areas deserve special attention in promoting optimal health:
1. the cells must be adequately supplied with the vital nutrients in order to maintain their structure and functioning optimally.

2. the heart and blood vessels must be strong and free in order to transport the required nutrients into the cells and remove the breakdown products.

3. the metabolism, especially the fat metabolism, must
be activated in order to prevent the general condition from being impaired
to avoid disorders such as obesity or high blood lipid levels

4. the immune system, our body’s own defences, must remain powerful in order to cope with the attacks of foreign, toxic substances at any time before such pollutants can lead to serious disorders.

Vital substances have a regulating effect on the four problem areas mentioned. They contain the active substances that stimulate our vitality in a completely natural way. By the way, a special emphasis is placed on the effect of the preparations to the body areas that are essential from a cosmetic point of view, especially the skin, but also hair, nails, teeth and bones.

However, the effects of the preparations are much more comprehensive, as health is not divisible. You will be amazed at what vital substances can do for optimal general well-being and radiant vitality!

How many nutrients do we need?

As mentioned above, we absorb micro-nutrients through our daily bread. But is that enough? In general, not enough. Our diet is generally low in vital substances. This is due to the often nutrient-poor soils, the agricultural production methods and the processing that destroys vital substances.

The basic conditions for getting enough micro-nutrients from the daily food are therefore poor, even if one tries to achieve a balanced mixed diet and careful preparation. Those who live a calorie-reduced life have even worse cards, because with 1,000 or 1,500 calories of daily energy intake it is impossible that the food contains the approx. 50-80 vital substances that the body needs daily. We then have to supply the body with the missing substances through additional vital substance preparations in order to maintain our health.

The second is the increased need for vital substances. Young people who are still growing and seniors who absorb the absorbed nutrients more poorly have an increased need. Pregnant women or people who are active in sports, smokers and people who drink alcohol have an increased need. Some people also have an increased need without any apparent cause, because the need for vital substances differs fundamentally from person to person (nutrient scientists therefore speak of „biochemical individuality“).

In general, the increased need can no longer be covered by the usual food, but only by additional doses of vital substance preparations.

Thirdly, the civilisational living conditions considerably increase our need for vital substances. Stress, everyday hectic, pressure to perform, unhealthy lifestyle and/or lack of relaxation put a strain on our body. In addition to this, there is the poisoned environment: pollutants from industry and exhaust fumes in the air, nitrate in water, artificial additives with questionable effects in many foods, radiation contamination, all this is a permanent attack on our health.

The body has to constantly detoxify itself – much more than before – and protect itself against an environment that is hostile to life. Vital substances play a decisive role in this. The additional demand that cannot be sufficiently covered by food must be supplemented (supplemented) in the form of vital substance preparations.

There are tables (e.g. from the German Society for Nutrition D.G.E.) with figures for the daily nutrient requirements. There are also lists of how many nutrients individual foods contain. You can then use a calculator or computer to put together your weekly meal plan in a somewhat complicated and balanced way.

To be honest, I do not think too much of such lists and will justify this with a simple example:
The vitamin C content of – let us say – apples can vary in a ratio     of 1 : 10, depending on the variety, location, exposure to sunlight, state of ripeness at harvest, storage and processing. This shows that nutrient tables can at best serve as a guide. In practice, it is likely that the information in the tables corresponds little or not at all to reality.

What do the nutrient requirement specifications mean of the German Society for Nutrition (D.G.E.)?

As far as the daily requirement of vitamins etc. according to D.G.E. is concerned, minimum quantities are sometimes assumed, i.e. quantities that can prevent typical deficiency diseases – such as scurvy as a result of vitamin C deficiency.

Today, however, it is no longer a question of scurvy, but rather of adapting the nutrient supply to strongly changed living conditions.
Let us stick to vitamin C. The D.G.E. recommends 75 mg daily for young people and adults. In orthomolecular nutritional science, at least 1000 mg daily is recommended throughout.

Linus Pauling, the founder of orthomolecular medicine, recommended 10-18 g of vitamin C daily, i.e. 130-240 times the amount recommended by the D.G.E. He himself took no less than 18 g of vitamin C every day for the last 30 years of his life – among other micronutrients – and, as he said, „has never been sick since then“. The two-time Nobel Prize winner, an impressive personality, actively engaged in science until his death, died in 1994 at the age of 93.

How should the preparations be dosed?

The examples show how broad the dosage spectrum is. Therefore, when dosing the vital substances, one should learn to trust in one’s own intuition much more than just calculating a – hypothetical – daily requirement. The recommendations for use given on the labels are an orientation which roughly covers the average daily requirement of the vital substances mentioned in the list of ingredients (it should be taken into account that we do not live exclusively on these preparations). The user should consider this dosage as a starting point. When using the preparations, he will learn to perceive better and better whether the dosage should be increased or decreased – depending on his „biochemical individuality“ or on the disorders to be remedied. The body provides the answers.

Are the preparations safe?

Even if the dosage is doubled, the use of nutrient preparations is safe. Remember, these are orthomolecular (the body’s own) natural substances. Anxiety is therefore inappropriate here.

Encourage yourself to learn to listen to the needs of your body again and to take responsibility for your health. Dealing with vital substances offers a truly fascinating training ground for active health care.

Therapeutic mega-doses (from about 10 times the amount mentioned in the recommendation for use over a longer period of time) for the treatment of specific complaints should, as already mentioned, of course only be given in consultation with the therapist. The same applies if medication has to be taken, e.g. for heart disease or diabetes. Often the dosage of medication can be reduced by the targeted use of nutrients.

Vitamins are – although the mere suspicion of a harmful effect leads to a tremendous media thunder – extremely safe substances. Side effects are rare and consistently easy to correct. On the other hand, avoidable medical malpractice and properly prescribed drugs taken according to instructions kill between 90,000 and 160,000 people in the USA alone every year. According to the „Journal of the American Association JAMA“, this is now the fourth most frequent cause of death there.

You can confidently use vitamins and other micronutrients to maintain or improve your health. Do not be confused by the DGE recommendations regarding dosage. The DGE values do not include increased requirements or preventive aspects. At best they represent a minimum, which should not be undercut under any circumstances.

Most nutrient scientists give 5-8 times the DGE values as optimal intake recommendations for healthy people, and that in the long run. In the short term, these values can be exceeded many times over – on doctor’s instructions.

If you have been prescribed medication, for example, blood sugar regulating agents or cholesterol-lowering drugs, the additional use of micronutrients can have the effect that the dosage of these drugs can be reduced (in many cases the use will even become unnecessary).

So follow the development of your blood values and other parameters in cooperation with your therapist.

Vital substance preparations
Production, processing and application

Vital substances as food supplements can be taken in various forms. The needs of people are manifold. This is taken into account with the different preparations.

The form of administration of a vital substance preparation is also an important factor for its bioavailability. The degree of bioavailability of vital substances can be determined by the degree of their absorption within the gastrointestinal tract, by the distribution of the micronutrients within the entire organism and finally by their excretion from the body.

Finally, the sensitivity of the vital substances used in the preparations places special demands on the form in which they are produced, stored and ingested, since it must be ensured that their biological activity is fully maintained until their final consumption.


In tablet form, the nutrients are well protected against harmful external influences such as moisture, oxygen and micro-organisms. Additional protection is provided by the glaze (coating), which also prevents the tablets from falling apart during transport. Incidentally, the coating also facilitates the transport of nutrients within the body itself. Of course, smooth, coated tablets are also easier to take.

The quality – and thus also the price of the tablets – depends on the high quality, type and quantity of the ingredients used. Ingredients are both the active ingredients used and the so-called auxiliary substances (fillers, binders and lubricants). Special requirements are placed on the properties of tablets for children, e.g. taste and lubricity.

Tablets with delayed release (long-term effect)

These tablets release their active ingredients to the organism evenly distributed over a longer period of time. This achieves a long-term effect over approx. 4-8 hours. This is important, for example, with water-soluble vitamins and higher dosages, because these vitamins cannot be stored in the body.


A distinction is made between capsules made of hard gelatine or cellulose (2 capsule parts are inserted into each other and seal the capsule contents) and soft capsules.

Soft capsules usually contain active substance emulsions and loose auxiliary and Binders, often oils, which are well protected in the soft capsule.


Nutrients are natural substances. Therefore, the ingredients for nutrient preparations come from natural sources. Today a number of vital substances, especially vitamins, can also be produced synthetically. Their chemical structural formula is then the same as for natural vitamins. Since experience shows that natural vitamins are better utilized by the organism, preference is given to vital substances from natural sources for use in high-quality preparations wherever possible.

The minerals contained in such preparations are almost without exception coupled to organic molecules, e.g. orotic acid, which increases their biological utilization. Minerals are offered as so-called chelates. Chelates are ring-shaped chemical compounds which can be absorbed particularly easily and completely. Thereby, the minerals are chemically bound to amino acids, whereby they 3-10 times better absorbed by the body. Chelate compounds are also known as „amino acid bound“.

Units of measurement

The amount of nutrients used is usually given in micrograms or milligrams. A milligram is the thousandth part of a gram, a microgram is the thousandth part of a milligram. So we are talking about unimaginably small quantities. The fat-soluble vitamins, i.e. A, D, E and K are given in international units (I.E.). This is how the biological vitamin activity is measured and described. The other vitamins are measured in micrograms (mcg) and milligrams (mg).

Auxiliary materials

In the case of food supplements, the use of additives is sometimes unavoidable. However, these must not cause any changes in the active ingredients and must be harmless to the organism. Excipients with different functions are required, e.g. fillers, binding agents and lubricants. Extreme care is taken in the selection of such additives to keep the product as pure and hypoallergenic as possible.


Vital substance preparations should be kept cool (but not in the refrigerator), dry, protected from light and out of reach of children. Unopened in this way, the biological effectiveness is fully preserved for 2 to 3 years. Some products contain a moisture barrier (a small paper bag with special salts; although non-toxic, these are not intended for consumption). The preparations are packed in light-protected bottles and sealed inside so that the consumer can be sure to have a perfect, fresh product in his hands.

Recommendations for use

The human organism works – in different intensity – in a cycle of 24 hours.
To achieve the best results, the vital substances should be taken evenly distributed throughout the day. In general, the best way to take vital substances is with meals.

Vitamins are organic substances that should be supplied to the body together with other food components, including minerals, to ensure the best absorption. Water-soluble vitamins, if not needed by the body, are excreted fairly quickly in the urine. They are better utilized by the body when taken with meals. The exceptions to this rule, which do occur, are clearly stated on the respective labels or product descriptions.

Purity Guarantee

branded preparations such as KAL, Solaray, VegLife etc., which are suitable for are produced in high volumes for worldwide use are assembled with the utmost care and according to the strict rules of GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice). The quality of all products is regularly checked twice: by the manufacturer’s own quality control and by independent laboratories. Doctors and therapists all over the world appreciate high-quality raw materials.


More and more people are suffering from allergies that can be caused by components of processed foods, some of which are unnecessary additives such as flavorings, colorants and flavorings, and fining agents.

In the products of the above mentioned manufacturers the use of such substances is consistently avoided. Due to the high demands made on the selection, composition, naturalness and purity of all ingredients, most preparations are hypoallergenic, i.e. they do not contain any substances known to cause allergies.

Recognized excipients in nutrient preparations

Necessary auxiliary substances in nutrient preparations are fillers, binding agents and lubricants. These substances all come from natural sources and are used to give tablets or capsules their consistency and cohesion.
Natural coating substances (glazes) make swallowing easier.
The natural substances that are used are described below:

Natural binding agents
(help hold the tablet together):

(a) Gum arabic: Gum arabic, extracted from acacia trees, is the most widely used binder
(b) cellulose: Crystalline polysaccharides from various plant fibres

Natural fillers
(combine the active ingredients in a stable form):

a) dicalcium phosphate; calcium in the chemical form of phosphate salt obtained from natural dolomite
(b) Silica; natural form of the trace element silicon, used to facilitate the manufacture of tablets or capsules
(c) Vegetable oils are needed for the production of active substances in soft capsules to bind, soya, thistle, canola and olive oil are used

Natural lubricants
(provide the tablet press with a surface that is
sticking of the tablets is prevented):

a) calcium stearate; compound of 94% vegetable stearin
and 5 % elemental calcium
(b) magnesium stearate; a compound of 95 % vegetable stearate
acid and palmitic acid with 4 % elemental magnesium
(c) palmitic acid; glyceride esters of vegetable oils
is gained
(d) stearic acid; glyceride which is present in both animal fats and
vegetable oils are also present
(e) Vegetable stearin; stearic acid derived from vegetable oils
is gained

Natural glaze materials
(give the tablet a smooth surface):

(a) Food glaze; made from natural vegetable extracts
won and fully digestible
(b) Plant protein; one or more plant proteins,
not derived from corn
(c) gelatine; gelatine produced from bovine and porcine animals is used to manufacture
of insert capsules (hard capsules) or soft capsules;
gelatine, which is obtained from vegetable sources (rice starch), is also increasingly being used

Natural sweeteners
(are used to improve the taste):

(a) fructose; enzymatically extracted from sugar beet
(b) sucrose; extract from Turbinado sugar cane

Innovative vital substance preparations

Vital substance – preparations that combine different micronutrients need special care in the composition of their formula. These preparations should have the best possible bio-availability, i.e. they should guarantee an easy and complete absorption and utilization of their active substances by the organism. At the same time, antagonistic components (which impair each other in their effectiveness) must be avoided, and finally, the preparation as a whole should develop the greatest possible degree of biological activity in the body. As a consumer, one has no idea how much effort of scientific research, time and care must be invested in each product before it finally reaches the consumer’s table.

The most innovative and high-quality vital substances come from the U.S.A. This is mainly due to the fact that the U.S.A. is considered the leader in this field. This leading role is favoured by progressive, sensible and realistic legislation. Nutrient preparations are legally classified as what they are, namely as food, and are therefore freely available everywhere. You can buy them in supermarkets, drugstores, health food stores or health shops.

This situation has not only led to a knowledgeable use of these substances by consumers; the existing – and ever-increasing demand for food supplements also allows for ever-intensified research in the field of food substances (which in turn favours the development of ever better products). It can be said that there is hardly an area that has been more thoroughly researched and scientifically documented.

The knowledge about vitamins and other biologically active ingredients of our food is still comparatively young. It is therefore not surprising that most of the precise knowledge has only been gained in the last 20 years. 90 % of the research into the role of micronutrients in the organism has been carried out in the last 2 decades, most of it not older than 5 years.
A number of efficient manufacturers are converting the most promising of these scientific research results into preparations that guarantee an ever better supply of vital substances. This will undoubtedly increase the importance of nutrients in health care and in the treatment of the so-called diseases of civilization in the coming years.

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Dieses Buch berichtet davon, wie wir Entscheidungen in einer ungewissen Welt treffen. Es wurde absichtlich nicht als akademisches Lehrbuch verfasst. Ich bin in der ausserordentlich glücklichen Lage, für meine Forschung über Ressourcen der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft zu verfügen. Mit diesem Buch möchte ich den Steuerzahlen, die unsere Gesellschaft finanzieren, etwas zurückgeben und meine Dankbarkeit ausdrücken.