By Kevin Lamberg
As a company that uses fruits, vegetables and Saccharomyces cerevisiae to deliver our foundational nutrients, we are intimately acquainted with the ongoing debate between megavitamin therapy, food concentrates, and whole-food diets. When it comes to maintaining health, is one way better than all the others, or do they all have a place in nutrition?
In an editorial written by Joseph Pizzorno, a naturopathic physician and authority on science-based natural medicine, he acknowledged that he treats his patients with modest to high doses of primarily synthetic vitamins and achieves “good” results. He also reported that some of his teachers in naturopathic medical school, and several well-respected industry gurus that he studied under, consistently report favorable results using synthetic supplements. However, a few sentences later he acknowledged that unless his patients were eating whole food diets or supplementing with food concentrates, his supplement plan was coming up short. “Patients could be taking all the supplements in the world, but if they were missing those nutrients available only in foods that had yet to be turned into supplements, of what true benefit was it?” Dr. Pizzorno, like many other practitioners today, found himself divided over the issue of low-dose complex food nutrients and high-dose isolates.
I recall beginning my career in the vitamin supplement industry in the late 90’s and quickly learning that high dietary intakes of fruits and vegetables consistently lower health risks in man. Initially, researchers were quick to try to identify individual nutrients and propose an explanation after several studies were published in the early 90’s to account for the epidemiological evidence.    Could it be as simple as proclaiming two potent antioxidants, beta carotene and vitamin E, as the dynamic duo?
When the controversial results of the Alpha-tocopherol, Beta-Carotene (ATBC) Lung Cancer Prevention Study were released, they unexpectedly revealed that among the 876 new cases of lung cancer diagnosed during the trial, no reduction in incidence was observed among the men who received alpha-tocopherol. Moreover, there was a higher incidence of lung cancer among the men who received beta carotene than among those who did not.  Granted, the subjects in this study continued to smoke five or more cigarettes per day during the trial.
“More than 30 case-control and cohort studies were conducted over many years in various populations and indicated that people who eat more vegetables and fruit, foods rich in carotenoids, and carotenoids (beta-carotene in particular), as well as those with higher blood beta-carotene concentrations, have a lower risk of lung cancer than those who eat fewer such foods or have lower beta-carotene concentrations. In contrast, the intervention results from large, controlled trials of beta-carotene supplementation do not support the observed beneficial associations or a role for supplemental beta-carotene in lung cancer prevention; instead, they provide striking evidence for adverse effects (i.e. excess lung cancer incidence and overall mortality) in smokers.”
When I first reviewed this study, it was hard not to wonder if relying on high-dose isolated nutrients without changing deleterious behaviors ignores the overwhelming influence that lifestyle habits contribute to health. I also found it interesting that the carotenoids in food seemed to behave differently than isolated beta-carotene when examined in this context. The fact remained, those participants who consumed high-dose beta carotene supplements for a long period (5-8 years) elevated their risk of lung cancer. As for the health benefits of food nutrients, the process of recording and researching them often looks to identify one isolated compound, which completely ignores synergy. We know for example that an Orange (Citrus sinensis) contains more than 800 different actives according to Dr. James Duke’s Ethnobotanical database. So how is it possible to expect clear and accurate findings by only selecting a few, leaving the rest behind, concentrating the dose and administering it for long periods of time? It may be that myopic approach that stimulates our deep curiosity and provides the motivation that causes us to ask “what if there’s something we are missing?”
On November 11, 2004, BBC News captured their audience with the headline “High-dose vitamin E death warning”. The bold proclamation resulted from the analysis of 19 studies conducted between 1993 and 2004 that followed 136,000 people who consumed half of the recommended daily dose of the vitamin. Johns Hopkins University published the summary of the findings after other warnings on high-dose vitamin use were publicized earlier that same year.
The results revealed that those who took “high-dose” vitamin E for an extended period had a 10% increased risk of death compared to those who did not. Many doctors were quick to declare that healthy eating remained the best way to get vital nutrients. Interestingly, there was no increase in mortality with doses of 200 IU or less, and upper limit daily intake warnings were issued. Critics of the study became convinced that the design was biased because the analysis focused on synthetic rather than natural vitamin E, and the participants in the trial were mostly 60 years old or older. However, the fact remains that regardless of the form of Vitamin E, and irrespective of the age of the participants, low-dose synthetic Vitamin E did not carry the same concern as high-dose. “If people are taking a multivitamin, they should make sure it contains no more than a low dose of vitamin E,” said Dr. Edgar Miller.
What is becoming evident is that vitamin treatment largely depends on the duration of use and the intended application. The INNATE Response™ foundation products were created based on the considerations mentioned earlier. Vitamin E delivered with brown rice contains a broad range of tocopherols and tocotrienols that fall below the levels of concern for long-term use. Vitamin C provided with the synergistic compound actives of oranges carry all of those unknown factors unique to the fruit. Folate delivered with Broccoli and Vitamin A provided with carrots offer meaningful doses that contain the natural sources of the vitamins. Additionally, the natural mix of carotenoids found in carrots adds a unique depth to the Vitamin A blend. Also, many of the foundation formulations offer a tonic blend of fruits, vegetables or herbs, which gently support overall wellness. Lastly, bioactive peptides and enzymes are a unique added benefit resulting from the proprietary FoodState® process. These low-dose formulations are designed to be taken long term for foundational support. Click here to view our process LIVE
First and foremost, all of us at INNATE Response™ advocate healthy eating that includes a minimum of seven to nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day. The foundational products we offer are intended to fill phytonutrient gaps in the diet caused by not meeting this recommendation. And as Dr. Pizzorno pointed out in his editorial, there is no high-dose supplement replacement for obtaining complex nutrients from food, or from concentrates, if the diet is neglected. However, the reality we face is most individuals only consume two and a half servings of fruits and vegetables per day and are in need of a solution that bridges that gap every day.
So when addressing foundation health, the use of lower-dose vitamins delivered with food in conjunction with optimized dietary habits, which includes a variety of foods and food concentrates may be the best advice. Supplements that are crafted to include fruits and vegetables may be of particular benefit because they contain the widest range of nutrients possible that fill gaps in the modern diet. We are learning more every day about these “missing nutrients”; about what they do and how they work in the human body. And unfortunately, the answer will likely not be as simple as identifying an individual isolate and declaring it suitable for long-term use at a high dose. In many circumstances, the solution that achieves the best clinical outcome will likely first consider the intent and duration of the therapy and lastly seek low-dose alternatives for long-term foundation nutrition applications.Click to View INNATE’s Foundation supplement catalog
 Pizzorno, J. ND, Synthetic or Natural-Which Supplements Are Best? Integrative Medicine, Vol.4, No.6, December 2005/January 2006.
2] Steinmetz KA, Potter JD. Vegetables, fruit and cancer prevention: a review, J Am Diet Assoc. Oct. 1996.
 Steinmetz KA, Potter JD. Vegetables, fruit, and cancer. II. Mechanisms. Cancer Causes Control. 1991 Nov;2(6):427-42.
 Block G, Patterson B, Subar A. Fruit, vegetables, and cancer prevention: a review of the epidemiological evidence. Nutr Cancer. 1992;18(1):1-29.
 The Alpha-Tocopherol Beta Carotene Cancer Prevention Study Group N Engl J Med 1994; 330:1029-1035April 14, 1994
 Am J Clin Nutr. 1999 Jun;69(6):1345S-1350S. Beta-carotene and lung cancer: a case study.