A patient came to see me a few weeks back with lab test results that showed an elevated liver enzyme that implied he might have a drinking and/or a drug problem, but that was not part of his history. Rather than seeing his regular medical doctor he tried to treat the problem himself by supplementing his diet with a whole food vitamin for his liver, but his blood test numbers just would not budge. He knew of my nutrition background so he asked me what I thought he could do differently.
After studying his test results closely I described that there are many different liver enzymes but my experience has taught me that this particular enzyme responds well to a co-enzyme of vitamin B12; a whole food vitamin would not work in this case because a balanced nutrient would only maintain the imbalance. Budging this specific enzyme required an “imbalanced” nutrient — a very specific aspect of a very specific vitamin.
Now, you might ask: “What in the world is an ‘imbalanced’ nutrient”?
Most of the time imbalanced nutrition means a diet that is less than adequate. That is not what I am talking about. I mean to meet the patient’s nutritional needs, but in a very specific manner.
A whole food nutrient contains a complete complex of the essential components of a vitamin as it is found in nature. Ascorbic acid, for example, is not vitamin C any more than retinoids are vitamin A. We call these parts “distilled” or “fractionated” vitamins because they are broken apart from their natural source.
Although ascorbic acid and the retinols are commonly considered to be vitamins, they are simply the active ingredients of the vitamins, not the vitamins themselves. However, while ascorbic acid and retinoids are parts of vitamins C and A respectively, consuming these imbalanced substances over a long period can eventually produce the symptoms of the disease that you take the vitamin to counteract. Imbalanced vitamins are much like any other drug that is stripped of its essential components.
I have seen many patients that bruise easily while they are taking their vitamin C tablets. When I change their supplements and include all the essential components of the vitamin C complex, their bruising often goes away. In the same manner, night blindness can be helped by taking the whole vitamin A complex rather than just the retinols.
There are side effects to all imbalanced substances. But in this patient’s case we needed to supplement the imbalanced aspect of the specific nutrient until the imbalance was resolved, and then we switched back to the whole food nutrient to maintain the newly reestablished balance.
The patient’s liver enzyme issue resolved fairly quickly and he felt much better.